How to Tell the Difference between Stress and Anxiety

How to Tell the Difference between Stress and Anxiety

You deal with stress and anxiety at some point in your life. However, if stress and anxiety are not addressed or managed properly, they can be major contributing factors to your physical and mental health problems. They may share the same physical symptoms, but it is important to know the basic differences between the two.

Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably. Many people consider both words synonymous. Both stress and anxiety are your body’s natural reactions to fear, danger, or discomfort. They can be overwhelming and sometimes cause disruptions to your daily activities. They should never be taken lightly, and knowing specifically what you are experiencing will help you find the appropriate treatment.

What is stress?

According to the American Psychological Association, “stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, but can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning. Stress involves changes affecting nearly every system of the body, influencing how people feel and behave.” It is caused by external factors that lead to physical, emotional, and psychological strain. It demands immediate attention or action.

When you are stressed, you immediately know the source of your distress. It could be that you are struggling with money, working hard to get a high score in the final exam, or you are going through a breakup. The physical symptoms of stress usually disappear when you are able to overcome or resolve that stressful situation.

Stress can be good or bad for you. Good stress pushes you to work harder, to always do your best in accomplishing your goal. It trains you not to give up because you know that this will be over soon. Bad or chronic stress is detrimental to your physical and mental health. If it continues for weeks, it may lead to depression, isolation, sleepless nights and digestive problems.

The most common signs and symptoms of stress are:

difficulty relaxing

difficulty breathing

irritable or easily angered

low energy



digestive problems

difficulty sleeping

panic attacks

worried or tense




excessive use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes

nail biting or fidgeting

Stress is not a lifetime threat to your health. It can be managed easily, and counselors and therapists near me would say that learning how to manage and cope with stress will make you a stronger and more resilient person. Stress can happen anytime, and though it is inevitable, there are effective ways to treat and manage it.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety, on the other hand, is “emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” It is a person’s reaction to stress and it is typically triggered by internal factors like excessive thoughts. Sadly, it can escalate to generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Anxiety can linger for a long time. Unlike stress, anxiety does not go away once the problem is solved. People with anxiety have “recurring intrusive thoughts” and “a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread.” Counselors or therapists near me recommend that it is better to consider seeking help from them to effectively manage anxiety.

The most common signs and symptoms of anxiety are:

difficulty concentrating

rapid breathing

feeling restless, tense

excessive fear or worry



unexplained body pains

sleeping problems


withdrawal from people or situation

Anxiety is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with right away. With anxiety, you are unable to do anything. You refuse to perform your daily tasks because you are worried or scared about something. Stressful situations are not easy to endure, but ultimately, you get to manage them. But when you are anxious, you feel hopeless and constantly think that more bad things are going to happen.

When to ask for help?

Most times, it is hard to tell if you are feeling stressed or anxious, especially when they manifest physically. It is always a good idea to consult medical professionals to get the right diagnosis and treatment. It is extremely beneficial if you are aware of whether you are experiencing stress or anxiety so that you can tell your therapists near me what is causing it.  

Stress and anxiety disrupt your life and can lead to serious mental health issues. It is important that you seek medical intervention right away before your symptoms get worse. Most people these days have to constantly face situations that can cause stress or anxiety. This issue may be widespread, but not everyone knows how to deal with it. Others may overcome it without sweat, but many are suffering from it in silence.

Dealing with stress or anxiety can be confusing and exhausting, and this is the main reason why you need to take charge of looking after your mental health. Mindshift Psychological Services offers comprehensive treatments for those who are suffering from stress or anxiety. We provide the best counseling and therapy sessions to manage them. Visit us and learn more about us on our website. You may also contact us at (714) 584-9700.