What’s the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety?
Stress and anxiety – two words we hear a lot these days. With everything that’s going on in the world, it’s understandable why more people are experiencing stress and anxiety. But even without coronavirus in the picture, stress and anxiety are a common feature of everyday life.
Most of us will experience either or both at some point our lives. In a 2018 survey, 74% of people recalled feeling so stressed that they were overwhelmed or unable to cope. Of course, different experiences vary, but we’ve definitely all experienced stress at some point.
To ensure we look after our mental health, it’s important to determine what exactly it is we’re experiencing. Is it anxiety, or is it stress? What level of severity are you experiencing? When we understand these personal questions, we have a far better chance of selecting effective stress and anxiety treatment plans.
So, what’s the difference between stress and anxiety?
Both are very similar in terms of what you feel emotionally and the symptoms you experience. But there are a few things that distinguish the two.
What is stress?
Although a complex topic, the most basic definition of stress is this: the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable.
Stress is typically caused by an extensive range of external triggers. You’ve likely experienced plenty of these during your life. They include, deadlines, work pressures, relationship worries or even high pressure situations during sport or other activities. There are many stressful situations, which cause you to feel varied degrees of stress. Stress is, however, defined by three subcategories:
- Acute Stress
This is the most common type of stress. Sometimes this low-level is in fact beneficial and assists our bodies in responding to unexpected challenges. Most cases of acute stress can be dealt with by the individual. Acute stress can, however, develop and become more severe.
- Episodic Acute Stress
This is where someone experiences acute stress on a regular basis. People can expect to feel prolonged feelings of pressure, or as if things are always going wrong. Because of its constant nature, this type of stress can be incredibly draining both mentally and physically.
- Chronic Stress
This is ongoing stress from long-term emotional pressures. Chronic stress is normally associated with unpleasant or uncomfortable situations, like unhappy family situations or money problems. Because these levels of pressure are so severe, your body experiences fight or flight circumstances far too often. This means your nervous system is always on high alert, which isn’t good for your overall health.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is defined by a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread. Unlike stress, its origin is internal. But it’s worth noting that anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress. Anxiety is typically more complex than stress because it has a number of variables that can cause it. Subsequently, there are more types of anxiety.
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is when you have regular or uncontrollable worries in everyday life. Because there are so many things that trigger this type of anxiety, it’s often hard to diagnose; the problems you experience may be completely different from someone else’s issues.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
People with this diagnosis experience extreme fear or anxiety in social situations. These include parties, workplaces – essentially any situation where you’re required to interact with another person.
- Panic Disorder
These are regular panic attacks that cannot be easily attributed to one particular or obvious trigger. This type of disorder can also trigger other anxiety disorders, like social anxiety.
Phobias are extreme fears or feelings of anxiety triggered by certain situations. These can be related to social situations or other triggers. Many phobias are caused by fears of physical things, like spiders.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is when someone has experienced a traumatic event at some point in their lives, perhaps a car accident or natural disaster. With PTSD you’re constantly living in fear of this event happening again, or reminded by flashbacks and nightmares.
These are the most common examples of anxiety. There are, of course, others which can be triggered by slightly more obscure circumstances.
Stress and Anxiety Symptoms
So, now you know the difference between stress and anxiety and all the different types, it’s time to look at the symptoms. Most stress and anxiety symptoms can be categorised under both physical and mental effects. Apart from symptoms varying in severity for different types, they do tend to be similar for both stress and anxiety.
- Dry mouth
- Hair loss
- Hot flushes
- Dizziness & fainting
- Stomach aches and cramps
- Feelings of impending doom
- Panic or nervousness, especially in social settings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irrational anger
Can prolonged stress cause anxiety?
The simple answer, yes. Remember, stress is mental pressure caused by certain situations; anxiety is mental pressure caused by stressful circumstances. It’s likely that when someone experiences prolonged and recurring stress, they will develop feelings of anxiousness and fear when they think about that particular instance.
Stress and Anxiety Treatment
There are many types of ways to treat both stress and anxiety. Normally proactive changes to your lifestyle are a great way to combat the mental pressure you’re experiencing. These include changes to your diet, improving sleep hygiene and making sure you get enough physical activity. There are also various types of medication available.
But it’s easier than done. These changes to your lifestyle can be hard to implement or sustain. Work and family commitments mean it’s difficult to make lasting changes. Medication can also pose a number of nasty side effects.
But there is another option – a quick and simple fix to help with stress and anxiety. Our method, Elektromeridian Kobra, combines principles of electrotherapy, auriculotherapy and reflexology. Treatment is non-invasive, confidential and scientifically proven to reduce levels of stress and anxiety.
If this sounds like the help you need, then do not hesitate to get in touch. We are innovative and new anxiety treatment London residents have been looking for. Take control of your stress and anxiety – set yourself free.