Stress vs. anxiety: How to tell the difference – National

While the terms stress and worry are often used interchangeably, and although there is some overlap in symptoms, they do not really mean the same thing, Canadian Mental Health Association.

Anxiety disorders affect nearly 5% of the household population, while stress is much more common, according to one Ipsos Probe Search. And the difference doesn’t stop there. Here’s how to distinguish one from the other.

DISCLOSURE: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a qualified health care practitioner. Always seek medical advice specific to you and your condition.

Same coin, different sides

Understand that stress and anxiety (and to a lesser extent anxiety) are different sides of the same coin. While they are interconnected and both affect your nervous system, they are also separate conditions with different treatment approaches.

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The The Canadian Mental Health Association describes stress as a natural (and often useful) physiological response to an external threat. Stress is what signals our bodies to focus and go into fight, flight, or freeze mode to help us stay away from the threat and get to safety.

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On the other hand, anxiety is what happens when our body responds to stress and it includes a strong cognitive element (our mind). Like stress, anxiety is a response to a threat, just that threat is not easy to identify; nothing specific or easy to blame.

It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between feeling anxious and clinical anxiety. Feelings of anxiety can be a daily occurrence for many of us (such as when we know we have a public talk), while clinical anxiety is much more severe, debilitating and requires clinical treatment.

Symptoms of stress

Follow Mayo Clinic Including:

  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Irritability
  • Fast heart beat
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Poor concentration and forgetfulness
  • Low energy

In the long run, stress can be harmful to the body and has been linked to depression, heart attack, stroke, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure and obesity.

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Symptoms of Anxiety

Many symptoms of anxiety mimic the symptoms of stress, which is what makes the two so easy to confuse. Outside symptom such as difficulty concentrating, irritability, poor sleep, and muscle tension, in addition to:

  • Difficulty calming your thoughts
  • Jitter
  • Tired easily
  • Easily startled
  • Sweating too much
  • Chest

In the long run, anxiety can cause impairment in other areas of your life, such as socializing or going out, working, or moving in your daily routine.

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The root cause

Although the symptoms of stress and anxiety can be similar, their root causes are different. Stress is mainly motivated by a external trigger or situation (such as losing your job, arguing with your significant other, or an upcoming exam).

Stress is not always temporary. Short-term stress is called acute stress, and some can be long-lasting; poverty, ongoing health condition, or systematic discrimination are examples of chronic stress.

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Anxiety has a physiological component, but is often triggered in our minds by excessive and persistent anxiety that does not go away and can occur even in the absence of an external stimulus, Mayo Clinic.

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It may be the result of a previous traumatic event, and some of these thoughts may focus on repeatedly reliving the traumatic event in our minds, despite our best efforts. our strength. It can also focus on events that haven’t happened yet, but that we feel are certain to happen (even if there’s no objective indication of it).

The treatments

For acute stress, you can try exercise, which helps the body recover from the surge of cortisol, the stress hormone, and adrenaline, which put our bodies into fight, flight, or freeze mode.

Prioritize sleep and try to redirect your thoughts to the aspects of your life that you can control instead of ruminating on what you can’t control. For more ideas, try these 10 techniques for dealing with stress.

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Treating anxiety is a bit more complicated because people can experience it differently.

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Based on CAMHThere is a wide range of anxiety disorders, including different types of phobias and generalized anxiety disorders.

A mental health professional can help you determine what is going on in your individual case and help you figure out the best way to treat it, perhaps with cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and other approaches.

In terms of actions you can take to help put yourself on a better path, limiting coffee, alcohol, sugar, and other stimulants has been shown to have a negative effect on anxiety.

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Stress has an external trigger or situation that is much easier to identify, often a temporary condition and easier to treat. Anxiety also has physiological symptoms, but also has a strong mental element, with no obvious external triggers. It is much more complicated to treat and can be debilitating.

Both stress and anxiety are extremely common in Canada, but while most people experience stress, fewer people experience clinical anxiety.

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