The terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably to describe the experience of something that encompasses your focus. This is because the two share similarities in their symptoms. Both have an activation of the fight or flight response, causing several different physical sensations.
But the cause of the symptoms and the most effective treatment when either stress or anxiety becomes a more lasting challenge mental health challenge will differ.
Causes of Stress versus Anxiety
When you are feeling stressed or anxious, your body will activate its fight or flight response. This releases different neurotransmitters in the brain, like adrenaline and cortisol, that will help you respond to the challenges that your brain perceives you are up against.
You may feel physical responses like increased heart rate, sweating, higher blood pressure, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, and nausea and dizziness. These different symptoms are designed to improve your performance as you respond to whatever threat you face, and they are the reason why stress can sometimes be a good thing. After the threat has passed, your stress level should diminish and your body will return to normal.
Stress is purely the fight or flight response and it can happen as a result of many different triggers such as:
- Frightening Event
Anxiety also has the fight or flight response of stress, but it is generally accompanied by thoughts and emotions as well such as fear and worry.
These issues will occur from time to time for everyone, but it is when they become chronic that they can become a problem. Chronic stress occurs when you are frequently experiencing a stress reaction. This can occur when you are in a high stress situation like a challenging job or a traumatic environment or if you are undergoing a significant amount of transitions in your life. If you struggle to manage time and work, this can also frequently lead to stress.
Long term stress is equated with several different health conditions. Not only do you experience the physical fight or flight symptoms, but you will also be at greater risk for:
- Substance Abuse
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
An anxiety disorder can come in many forms, such as generalized anxiety, OCD, or PTSD. This will cause both physical symptoms and you may also have obtrusive thoughts of fear or nervousness. Anxiety can be highly disruptive to daily routines and also leads to a greater risk of substance abuse, depression, and other issues.
Due to their challenging effects, patients need a solution for both long term stress and anxiety disorders, but it is not always possible to tell which one you are dealing with. Therapy for anxiety and stress in Dallas from Aware Behavioral Health can provide an effective combination of medication and psychotherapy to help me reduce stress and both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Contact Aware Behavioral Health to find out more about our treatment options for anxiety and stress.