Stress vs Anxiety

Stress vs Anxiety

Life can be extremely stressful and can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. But how do I know if I just have stress or an anxiety disorder?

Well, when you are in the moment it can be hard to tell the difference but the main way to tell them apart is the cause and duration. Stress is a process where an external demand in life outweighs the resources you have. For example, the amount of work that you have vs your capability and time to do the job. The amount of stress depends on the level of demand and the capabilities or resources you have available to deal with the stress. You are able to tackle stress head as it is manageable, meaning that it is a short-term issue that goes away once the cause is resolved.

If the stress is not resolved or treated and the feeling of dread continues after the situation has passed, the stress has evolved into an anxiety disorder. The cause is now internal as it is your own genetic make up and hormones that are triggering the fight or flight response. This response continues to happen even when there is no actual threat present. Anxiety has a large toll on the body and mind as it reduces the serotonin stores causing low moods and even depression. There are many different types of disorders that come under the title of anxiety including generalized anxiety, panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.

The symptoms that are shared by both anxiety and stress include irritability, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, and muscle pain and tension.

Whereas anxiety can also affect the body in so many ways including:

Cardiovascular system: increased heart rate, palpitations, and chest pain. Increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease

Central nervous system: increase in hormone and chemicals released into the system causing headaches, dizziness, and depression. With long term increase of hormones can cause weight gain.

Urinary and digestive systems: stomach aches, nausea, diarrhoea, and other digestive issues. Can cause lack of appetite and even can be linked to irritable bowel syndrome.

Immune system: frequent boosts in hormones, gives short increases in immunity, but then drops to low levels. This makes you vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Anxiety also causes difficulty concentrating, difficulty breathing, low libido and social isolation. Anxiety can also lead to panic attaches where you can become dizzy, sweating and gasp for air. These can be very scary as you are not able to gain control of your breath and mind.

This can cause a large toll on your life. There are many ways you can help reduce the effects of anxiety which I will talk about in a post later this week, but if it is affecting you in a serious way, seek help. This can be either your GP or an organisation such as beyond blue.

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