How To Differentiate Between Anxiety and Regular Stress

by James Martin

There are many factors that cause you stress. Most often, the fear of facing a future event or the stress of daily routine can lead to anxiety. There are many people who claim that they have anxiety. It is very important to differentiate between these types of stress because the treatment plan can be completely different.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, dread, and other negative emotions that are generated when the person feels that they are unable to cope with daily stressors. It can also be a response to certain life events like being overwhelmed by your workload, getting into an argument, or simply not being able to meet your personal goals. Regular stress on the other hand is a direct result of a particular situation. It can also be due to your inherent nature. It might not be something that you feel all the time as it occurs in certain situations and during particular circumstances.

Here are 5 key differences between anxiety and regular stress:

1. Duration

Anxiety has a very short duration. In fact, people with anxiety often cannot explain how it began. This means that it does not have a very deep-rooted cause and therefore cannot be treated for long. If you are suffering from regular stress, on the other hand, then you are experiencing chronic stress due to a particular situation. There is no cure for regular stress as long as the situation persists.

2. Frequency

Anxiety usually occurs after completing some important task or event. Many people who have had a bad experience in the past will also suffer from anxiety. For example, if you lost your job 2 years ago, then there is a big chance that you will suffer from anxiety if you are again faced with the same situation. This is called anticipatory anxiety and it happens when there is a negative experience in your past. There is also a biological reason behind it as your body interprets the event as a threat and triggers anxiety. However, regular stress can occur more frequently. For example, most of us feel stressed out after completing a deadline.

3. Physical symptoms

Anxiety is not only focused on the mind and emotions; some people also experience physical symptoms like sweating palms and heart palpitations. Regular stress tends to happen in less dramatic situations such as getting an average grade or failing a test at school. Although your body can still respond to stress in both cases, the physical symptoms are less intense.

4. Causes

People with regular stress have a very clear way of determining why they feel stressed out and cannot find the real reason behind their bad temper. With anxiety, there is no clear cause, which makes it difficult to determine whether you are truly suffering from anxiety or not. The true causes of anxiety might include some past traumatic experiences, certain phobias, or social problems. With regular stress, there are always certain things that trigger bad emotions. These are usually associated with your experiences and skills. For example, you might feel frequent stress if you do not know how to handle certain situations or if you have a long workday.

5. Treatment

Since anxiety is not caused by a particular situation, you can treat it by identifying what triggers the feeling. This can help you re-route your thoughts if you suffer from anticipatory anxiety or if anything, in particular, is making you feel this way, then try to avoid it. With regular stress, it is easier to find out how to deal with the problem and solve it.


Anxiety is a very serious condition that should be dealt with immediately. If you feel like you experience anxiety, then it is very important to seek anxiety treatment. However, it is also important to take care of your mental and physical health in order to avoid chronic stress.

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