The 6 differences between stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety are phenomena sometimes used as synonyms. And no wonder they are so closely related. The two can be adaptive and can even appear together.

But if you stop to think, there are different types of stress (chronic stress, work stress, acute stress, etc.) and different anxiety disorders (OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attack, etc.).

Related Articles:

  • “Types of stress and their triggers”

  • “The 7 types of anxiety (causes and symptoms)”

Differences between stress and anxiety

then What is the difference between stress and anxiety? In this article you can find a list of the differences between stress and anxiety, which although they may seem abstract and their importance is relative, unless you are engaged in the health field, they will help you understand that kind of emotional phenomena.

1. The origin

Stress and anxiety are often linked, and the two can sometimes be adaptive. however, the origin of these phenomena may be different.

Anxiety can appear after an alert reaction and can be associated with fear and worry. For example, when faced with the threat of an animal or the anticipated idea that something bad will happen. In contrast, stress is a phenomenon that arises because the person does not have (or thinks they do not have) the skills, abilities or time to deal with a particular situation. In other words, there is a mismatch between the specific demand and the resources to meet that demand.

Stress can also arise when a person is at work and has to perform certain functions, but does not receive enough information about their role from the company, or the information they receive is ambiguous. Then there is what is called role conflict and role ambiguity, which are psychosocial variables related to stress in the work environment.

2. Anxiety is a symptom of stress

Much of the confusion that exists between the two phenomena and what makes them similar is that they often appear together. In fact, a stressful situation causes anxiety as one of its symptoms, although it can produce others as wellFor example, depression or headaches.

Prolonged stress can also lead to other consequences such as demotivation or depersonalization. Prolonged stress burns the person and causes emotional fatigue.

3. In terms of objective intensity

Although stress can cause many problems for a person in a stressful situation, it is possible to reduce stress by removing the stimulus that causes this situation. For example, when a person feels stressed because they haven’t managed their time well and their work accumulates before an exam. Once the exam is successful, the person can return to normal.

While a person with an anxiety disorder may feel great anxiety about a stimulus, for example, in the case of a phobia, even if the stimulus disappears, the person will continue to suffer from the phobia even in the case of a phobia. imagining. The presence of the stimulus. You could say that stress is, at least in most cases, a real cause (even if it is mediated by the person’s expectations). however, pathological anxiety is an irrational interpretation of danger or exaggerated concern. The intensity of the anxiety does not correspond to the objective situation.

4. The temporal moment

By associating stress with a trigger stimulus, it usually manifests itself in the present moment. For example, when a person has to hand in their homework at university and does not have time to do so. However, the stress can be prolonged, for example, when someone does not arrive at the end of the month and has to pay the mortgage on the home (the stress is still there month by month and the mortgage gets bigger), therefore stress is chronic. If the person is lucky enough to pay the mortgage, they will stop feeling stressed and feel relieved.

But anxiety can arise over and over again, because of worries about other temporary times.. For example, anticipating consequences that may not have happened (as in generalized anxiety disorder). Anxiety is a feeling of dread or fear and the source of this agitation is not always known or recognized, which can increase the anxiety experienced by a person.

5. The relationship between stress and stressors

As you see perhaps what characterizes stress the most is the presence of stressors, And there are many causes of stress. These stressors can be personal (for example, by an individual’s beliefs or by their level of education and training), although they can also be organizational (by the leadership styles of superiors or the communication of managers). company) or social (due to the economic or political crisis). destabilization). Stress has to do with the demands of the environment.

6. Anxiety and emotional impact

Therefore, stressful situations are the result of external factors. But in the case of anxiety, it has more to do with psychological factors and emotions. In other words, it usually has its origin in interpretations which may or may not be real. A person suffers from stress in the most varied life situations, which he perceives as excessive or in which a person does not have the necessary resources to be able to cope effectively.

In the case of anxiety, it is a reaction, emotional, physical and cognitive alert to a real threat or not, but it is also an emotional response to stress that continues after the disappearance of a stressor. and that it reacts and develops by thought.

For example, when approaching an exam in which someone plays a lot. On the one hand, there is the stress of the situation and the overload of work, but on the other hand, there is the worry of playing the whole course in an exam. This anxiety can cause the person to have difficulty sleeping during this time, wondering whether or not they will be able to pass the exam. If you do not pass the exam, the anxiety will surely take over the person, but the workload will have decreased and therefore the person will not be stressed.

What to do when faced with such problems?

Fortunately, the psychological alterations associated with anxiety and stress they can be approached from psychotherapy, through effective forms of intervention. Therefore, if you are suffering from any form of this type of discomfort, contact professionals and seek help from psychologists.

Bibliographical references:

  • Barrett, LF (2016). The theory of constructed emotion: an account of active inference on interoception and categorization. Cognitive and Social Affective Neuroscience, 12 (1): pages 1 to 23.
  • Beidel, DC; Turner, SM (1988). Comorbidity of test anxiety and other anxiety disorders in children. Journal of Anomalous Child Psychology, 16 (3): pp. 275-187.
  • Craske, MG; Stein, MB (2016). Anxiety. Lancet, 388 (10063): pages 3048-3059.
  • Lewis, M .; Haviland-Jones, JM (2000). Handbook of emotions. New York: The Guilford Press.

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