Is Anxiety Related to Stress?

People often wonder what the difference between stress and anxiety are and whether the two are related. The truth is, anxiety and stress often manifest in similar ways. In fact you may be stressed because of your anxiety and vice versa. If you’re suffering from irritability, exhaustion, rapid heart rate, sleepless nights, an inability to focus or concentrate, even things like head aches and muscle tension, it could be from stress or anxiety – or both.

Even though it seems like the symptoms are interchangeable, there’s certainly a difference. Stress is more of a short-term reaction to a trigger in your body. Sometimes being stressed kicks you into overdrive and you’re able to accomplish things you thought were impossible, like writing a last minute term paper. On the other hand, stress can have negative effects too, like those mentioned earlier.

Anxiety is actually a mental health disorder, it typically lasts for a sustained amount of time and is often triggered by stress – from very young childhood all the way through adulthood, any prolonged or high amount of stress can lead to anxiety.

With stress, you can sometimes see how once the problem is solved, the stress melts away or is alleviated. With anxiety, you’re typically not so lucky. Anxiety can hang around for long periods of time, be regular or irregular, and tends to have negative effects on a person’s well-being from their physical health to their social and emotional health, anxiety can be alarmingly detrimental to your health.

If you’re not sure whether you’re just going through a bout of stress or you’re experiencing real anxiety, try keeping track of your signs and symptoms for a week or two before getting some advice or help with a medical professional who’s qualified to help you understand the differences and find out what’s going on. Both stress and anxiety are treatable, and you don’t want to be left dealing with either for the long haul.

Hurley, K. “Stress vs Anxiety: How to Tell the Difference”. Psycom. (website). 2018
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