We all experience anxiety or stress because they are normal emotional responses to traumatic or unexpected events and circumstances. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety can reach levels beyond our capacity to manage them and sometimes require professional help and guidance.

While anxiety and stress are normal reactions, you may not be clear about the differences between these emotional responses. This article will clear up any confusion about the differences between anxiety and stress and when to consult a therapist for help.

What is Anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree, a feeling that is often described as worry, fear, or nervousness. An interview for a new job, asking for a pay rise, or worrying about how you will do in a big test are all good examples of anxiety-inducing events.

Stress and anxiety often work in tandem, as stressful events are usually the cause of feelings of anxiety. Anxiety becomes an issue when it starts to impact your life negatively. Overwhelming, prolonged anxiety can develop into chronic stress, creating physical symptoms and emotional distress.

A high level of anxiety can disrupt your life, like an emotional ball and chain that keeps you from friends, exploring new experiences, or preventing you from going to work, putting your job at risk.

What is Stress?

Stress is an emotional response to a threat, demand, or change. A stress response can be purely mental or emotional, but it can also create physiological changes in the body.

Everyone experiences stress at some point, but some people may be more prone to developing an acute, more intense reaction than others.

There are good and bad types of stress. For instance, stress that motivates you to meet work deadlines or do tasks well, like a school assignment, are a good kind of stress. However, prolonged and overwhelming or chronic stress can lead to physical and mental health problems if allowed to continue.

How to Know if You Are Experiencing Stress of Anxiety

Whenever you feel stress or anxiety, some of the other is mixed in, but one will be most dominant. Here’s how to know the difference between stress and anxiety.

While stress is primarily an external influence, such as too many demands on your time or a mission-critical work project, some of us can create stress through a pessimistic outlook, negative internal dialogue, or settling for nothing less than perfection.

In contrast, anxiety is internal, as it stems from how you react to stressors. When you eliminate the stressors but still feel distressed or overwhelmed, these are signs you are experiencing anxiety.

An anxious person will have an amplified reaction to a situation. When the unease and anguish you feel in these situations exceeds normal levels, it indicates that you are experiencing anxiety rather than stress.

Most stressful situations, although difficult, can be managed. However, an anxiety disorder can develop into a loss of function as you learn to avoid the everyday tasks that trigger the anxiety. If your anguish has reached a level that makes it difficult for you to work or leads to a panic attack, it’s a sign you may have an underlying anxiety issue.

When to Seek Help?

Stress and anxiety are not uncommon. However, it’s wise to acknowledge that they can reach levels that become a detriment to everyday life and hinder your ability to function. If stress and anxiety are sucking the joy out of your life, it’s time to consider getting help from a mental health professional.

An exploratory, no-obligation counseling session will help you find the best treatment type for you. Get in touch and start your journey towards a healthier, happier life today. To learn more, visit this page: Anxiety Treatment