Pauliann Long, LCSW-C

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Surprising Ways Stress and Anxiety Are Not the Same

It’s often easy to pair stress and anxiety together.

With several similar symptoms and potential causes, they seem to be interchangeable. But, that’s not always the case.

Understanding how stress and anxiety are different is vital to safeguarding our mental health.

Anxiety is actually one of the negative effects caused by stress. The two don’t manifest in the same way. Of course, this makes it easy to get them confused.

Once we can identify the symptoms of both stress and anxiety separately, it becomes easier to understand our experiences.

What Are the Common Signs of Stress?

In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible not to feel stressed sometimes. Even those of us who feel we have a well-balanced, calm life get stressed out!

Furthermore, both mental and physical conditions can lead to levels of high stress. This includes everything from depression to obesity.

It’s how our bodies and minds respond to these stressors that can make a big difference. Keep in mind, each person reacts differently and symptoms can show up in many ways.

Some frequent symptoms associated with extreme stress include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tension (muscles and head)
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Nausea

Many additional symptoms exist. Again, symptoms manifest differently for different people.

Symptoms can also change over time. So, it’s important to understand our own stress triggers. That way, we can be more aware of how our body responds.

What is Anxiety?

If stress and anxiety aren’t the same, what’s the difference?

Remember, anxiety is often a result of the stress you’re under. It has many of the same symptoms, including things like muscle tension and a rapid heart rate. But the symptoms of stress are usually short-lived.

Stress itself is a response to a particular situation. Sometimes, stress can even be a positive thing, helping to guide us in a situation or even support better performance.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a more long-term, sustained mental health condition. Frequently, exacerbated by stress.

While stress can come and go based on the situation, anxiety doesn’t “leave” so easily. It is a lingering condition that can become extremely debilitating.

Some of the most serious symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Inability to stop worrying
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Anxiety can even start to cause physical symptoms like excessive sweating and chest pain. These symptoms (and many more) can become extremely severe.

In fact, they can impair friendships, romantic relationships, careers, and much more.

How to Cope with Anxiety and Stress

The first step in dealing with either anxiety or stress is to get a proper diagnosis.

Dealing with stress means dealing with some of the most common occurrences of everyday life. Coping with anxiety, however, can be much different.

That’s why we integrate traditional forms of psychotherapy with mindful and spiritual treatment solutions. Anxiety can often be treated with different forms of therapy and several lifestyle changes. These practices are also a great way to alleviate stress and learn how to better manage it.

No two people are the same when it comes to how they respond to stress. But, when those negative symptoms linger and begin to take over our lives, it’s time to seek out treatment. No one deserves to live in a cage of their own anxiety.

The good news? No one is an island.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders and is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

The better news? Help is available. We’ll work with you, not only to identify what might be triggering your stress and anxiety but to develop a treatment plan specific to you and your needs.

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