Stress vs Anxiety (7 points)

During their lifetime, people experience stress and anxiety in some situations or as a result of some circumstances.

Even though they have many symptoms in common, they are not the same, like many people think.

In this article, called “Stress vs. anxiety,” we will present what stress is, what is anxiety, symptoms, causes, as well as treatment.

Stress vs Anxiety

Stress and anxiety may be caused by similar situations and may feel the same.

However, they are different.

The difference between stress and anxiety is that stress is a response to any demands, while anxiety is a reaction to the stress, and can be caused by it. 

What is Stress?

Stress is a combination of non-specific adaptive reactions of the body to the influences of various adverse stress factors (physical or psychological) that disrupt its homeostasis, as well as the corresponding state of the nervous system of the organism (or the body as a whole).

In medicine, physiology, psychology, positive (eustress from other Greek. Εὖ- “good”) and negative (distress from other Greek. Δυσ “loss”) forms of stress are distinguished.

For the first time, the term “stress” was introduced into physiology and psychology by Walter Cannon in his classic works on the universal “fight or flight” reaction.

The famous stress researcher Canadian physiologist Hans Selye published his first work about the general adaptation syndrome in 1936, but for a long time, he avoided the use of the term “stress,” since it was used for the designation of “neuropsychic” stress (“fight or flight” syndrome).

Only in 1946, Selye started systematically using the term “stress” for general adaptation syndrome. 

General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)

For the first time, physiological stress was described by Hans Selye as a general adaptation syndrome.

The term “stress” he began to use later.

Hans Selye said, “Stress is the non-specific response of the organism to any demand.”

Selye identified three stages of the general adaptation syndrome:

Alarm stage

This stage has two phases: shock phase and antishock phase.

In the shock phase, the organism’s resistance to the stressor temporarily drops below the normal range and maybe experienced some level of shock.

In the antishock phase, the body starts to respond and is in a state of alarm.

Stage of resistance

In the stage of the resistance, the body responds to stressful stimuli; however, if it is activated for long, the body’s resources get depleted.

Stage of recovery or exhaustion

The third stage can be recovery or exhaustion.

The recovery stage follows when the has successfully overcome the stressor effect.

Exhaustion stage assumes that all the resources of the body are depleted, and the body is unable to maintain normal function.

Symptoms of Stress

Below you can see some of the main symptoms of stress:

Physical symptoms:

  • Headaches,
  • Dizziness,
  • Heart racing,
  • Troubles sleeping,
  • Decrease or increase of appetite,
  • Weight loss or weight gain,
  • Muscle tension,
  • Exhaustion,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Trembling,
  • Sexual problems.

Psychological symptoms:

  • Irritability,
  • Isolation,
  • Moodiness,
  • Feeling of worthlessness,
  • Low self-esteem,
  • Sadness,
  • Panic attack,
  • Lack of motivation,
  • Concentration difficulties,
  • Negativity,
  • Constant worrying,
  • Restlessness,
  • Low sex drive.

Stress Treatment

We present you some tips that may be helpful for you to treat stress:

  • Try to be positive,
  • Trey to realize and accept that you cannot control everything,
  • Assert your ideas and emotions instead of becoming angry or passive,
  • Practice relaxation techniques for stress management, for example, yoga or meditation,
  • Learn to manage your time effectively,
  • Make time for relaxation,
  • Get enough sleep,
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs as a means to treat stress,
  • Interact with friends and relatives (people whose company you enjoy) more,
  • Meet a professional psychologist or another mental health professional that can help you deal with depression using some techniques and skills.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress, a feeling of unease, such as worry and fear of what is ahead.

If your anxiety lasts more than six months, it can mean that you have an anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition characterized by excessive worry about daily events. 

Symptoms of Anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety vary connected to the person that experiences it. Below are some symptoms of general anxiety:

Physiological symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate,
  • Rapid breathing,
  • Trouble sleeping,
  • Headache,
  • Nausea,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Fatigue,
  • Sweating,
  • Muscle tension.

Psychological symptoms:

  • Concentration problems, 
  • Restlessness,
  • Irritability,
  • Worry,
  • Panic attacks,
  • Edginess,
  • Fear,
  • Uneasiness,
  • Nervousness,
  • Apprehension.

Anxiety Treatment

There are some ways to treat anxiety: psychotherapy, medications, and some ways to cope with anxiety:


Psychotherapy can include counseling and therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or art therapy.

The professional specialists can help you to recognize negative and distorted thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.


Some medications are used to treat anxiety, reducing their symptoms. They include tricyclics, benzodiazepines, or antidepressants.

Exercises and techniques to cope with anxiety

You can also learn some exercises and techniques that may help you to cope with anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, physical exercises, exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and others.

You should also avoid using caffeine and alcohol, as well as quit cigarettes.

Can Stress Cause Anxiety?

Chronic stress can cause anxiety. In external factors causing anxiety are:

  • Stress from work,
  • Stress at school,
  • Stress in relationships (especially personal),
  • Financial stress,
  • Stress from mental illnesses,
  • Stress from emotional trauma.

Can alcohol cause anxiety?

Alcohol can cause anxiety. There are many cases when a person has both disorders: alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder.

Abusing alcohol for long can develop an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can also increase if you had been abusing alcohol for a long time, but you stop using it at all suddenly.

There was a review in 2017, which showed that reducing the use of alcohol, effects on anxiety positively, improving its symptoms, as well as the life quality.

People with alcohol use disorder have higher levels of anxiety than the ones who do not have it.

It can seem funny that people use alcohol to reduce anxiety, but if they abuse alcohol or become addicted, then instead of reducing anxiety, alcohol increases its symptoms.

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FAQs about the topic “Stress vs. Anxiety.”

Is stress the same thing as anxiety?

Stress is not the same thing as anxiety. Stress is a combination of non-specific adaptive reactions of the body to the influences of various adverse stress factors that disrupt its homeostasis, as well as the corresponding state of the nervous system of the organism, or the body as a whole. What about anxiety, it is the body’s natural response to stress, a feeling of unease, such as worry and fear of what is ahead. However, stress can cause anxiety.

What are the symptoms of anxiety and stress?

The common symptoms of anxiety and stress are physical and emotional.

Physical symptoms:

Rapid breathing
Rapid heartbeat
Trouble sleeping
Muscle tension,
Decrease or increase of appetite.

Emotional symptoms:

Concentration difficulties,
Feelings of impending doom.

Does worry cause anxiety?

Excessive worry can cause anxiety. When you excessively worry, you focus on the thoughts “what might happen.” Chronic worriers have feelings of impending doom or irrational fears, that increase the worry.

What is the difference between stress and tension?

Psychological tension is similar to a state of stress; however, contrary to stress, people experiencing tension, experience feelings of congestion, uncertainty, and overwhelming anxiety.

What are the five emotional signs of stress?

Stress has many symptoms. However, five emotional signs of stress are:

Lack of motivation,
Concentration difficulties,
Mood swings,

What triggers anxiety?

There are different anxiety triggers, such as stress, negativity, medications, caffeine, financial difficulties, social events, conflicts, personal triggers, and others.


Concluding this article “Stress vs. anxiety,” we can say that although stress and anxiety may feel similar and may be caused by the same triggers, they are not the same; the main difference between stress and anxiety is that stress is a response to any demands, while anxiety is a reaction to the stress, and can be caused by it. However, each of them has its specific symptoms and treatments.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.


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