I feel that a lot of people get anxiety and stress confused. Sure, they both sound like similar afflictions, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Stress is something that we all feel, usually in response to something that makes us uncomfortable. Anxiety, however, is very much a different thing, and I would go so far as to say that it is more of a medical condition.
When you can neither fight something nor run away from it, anxiety takes over and begins to consume you
Of course, is very difficult for people who do not suffer from anxiety to understand what exactly it feels like. There are so many possible symptoms of anxiety that one cannot simply sumple, it is a common misconception that a panic attack is when somebody begins to hyperventilate and lose control of themselves. While that is one type of panic attack, and it is true that many people do react that way in response to their anxiety disorder, there are many different other kinds of panic attacks. Someone suddenly overheating terribly and feeling as if they need to throw all of their clothes off, even when it is not warm in the room, can be a panic response. A panic attack is just a very extreme reaction to anxiety, and that is really all that can be said about that matter in particular without over generalizing.
In order for one to actually understand what anxiety is compared to stress, we must keep in mind that all humans have a flight or fight response. Is something that is ingrained in us and passed down through Evolution. It is what has helped us survive and evolve all this time, and it helps us in our daily lives to this day. When we are faced with stress, like that exam for instance, we know we must either study for it, or just give up completely. It is very simple to do either one, and therefore we are only stressed out. We can fight the exam through studying, or we can just simply concede defeat and not study at all. We could even drop the class if we so choose. We are uncomfortable, but we do not have anxiety. We have a solution to our problem that we can act upon, and that is solvable by our own means.
For example, an upcoming exam could be stressful because we do not know for sure what is on that exam, or if we have studied all the material that is necessary to pass it
Now, here is the main difference between Stress and Anxiety. Anxiety is the response that we have when a fight-or-flight response is triggered, but we can do neither. Whether or not we are missing the means to fight it or it is all in our own mind does not matter. Mental illness doesn’t have to be rational, so perhaps one could fight it yet their own afflictions are keeping them back from doing so. We could also just not have the means, because fighting back in every situation is not possible. The same goes for flight. We cannot run away from every problem, and there are some things that we simply cannot give up on or avoid in life. You panic , and it hurts whomever it affects tremendously.
In order to explain a little more accurately, I will begin to get into my own personal case. I have been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist with what is known as situational anxiety. It is different than generalized anxiety disorder because it is caused by a certain environment or life situation. Once I am away from that environment or that situation ends, the anxiety will be alleviated and no longer be a problem for me. For me that environment happens to be my own home, and the situation is that I am 27 years old, currently disabled, unable to work, and have no income. That is probably over simplifying things; what is needed to have some background into my source of anxiety. One of the most prominent sources of my anxiety is specifically the topic of income.