The difference between anxiety and stress is one of the most repeated questions today. We will try to explain what each thing is and how they differ. It should be noted that anxiety and stress tend to get confused because they have typical symptoms of activation that occur during the process.
First, anxiety is a physiological response to the alarm that prepares us to ‘flee,’ ‘escape’ or ‘fight’ in the face of an internal or external threat. Within anxiety, it is convenient to differentiate two types; one that is called reasonable anxiety and one that involves the so-called anxiety styles also called pathological anxiety.
But what are the real differences between anxiety and stress? It seems a matter of intensity. While anxiety is reasonable, the intensity is a moment or situation in which one lives, that is, a measure of protection in an objectively dangerous moment. On the other hand, in pathological anxiety, the situations are not taken into account as dangerous, but the symptoms and thoughts that intensify it in several points of lasting form offer a continuous response.
Normally, stress ends when the external situation of danger ends up reducing the physiological activation.
Anxiety is a symptom of stress.
Much of the confusion that exists between both conditions 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 also produce others, for example, depression or headaches. Prolonged stress, in addition, can cause the appearance of other consequences such as demotivation or depersonalization. Prolonged stress burns the person and causes emotional fatigue.
Regarding the objective intensity
Although stress can cause many problems for the person who is in a stressful situation, it is possible to reduce stress by eliminating the stimulus that causes this situation. For example, when someone feels stressed because they have not managed their time well and their work is accumulated before an exam, once the test passes, the person can return to normal. Although an individual with an anxiety disorder may feel a great deal of anxiety before a stimulus, for example, in the case of a phobia, although the stimulus disappears, the person will continue to suffer from the phobia merely by imagining the presence of the stimulus. It could be said that stress is, at least in most cases, a real cause (although the expectations of a person mediate it). However, pathological anxiety is an irrational interpretation of a danger or an exaggerated concern. The intensity of the anxiety is not in agreement with the objective situation.
The temporary moment
By associating stress with a triggering stimulus, it usually manifests in the present moment. For example, when a person has to turn in a task at the university and does not have time to do it. However, stress can be prolonged, for example, when someone does not make ends meet and has to pay the mortgage on their house. If the person is lucky enough to pay the mortgage, they will stop feeling stressed and feel relieved.
Stress and anxiety go hand in hand. A stressful person is bound to suffer from anxiety when he/she is not sure about what to expect from the future. Unpredictability is usually beingthe thing that triggers anxiety. However, if you cure one, you are already halfway there with the other!