To many people anxiety and stress appear one and the same; yet this is not true, although they do have a range of commonalities.
The Young Minds website describes anxiety as “the feeling of fear or panic”. They also identify that, like stress, feeling some short-term anxiety is normal and can be useful; it becomes damaging when it starts to affect everyday life.
Anxiety can be worsened by persistent negative thoughts, feeling threatened and long-term stress. Like stress, our environment can contribute to levels of anxiety; however, unlike stress genetics can also be a contributory factor.
Linking to the physical fight or flight systems, anxiety can therefore manifest very similar symptoms to stress such as:
Physical health and emotions as well as behaviour can be affected by anxiety. For example, someone who is typically laid back may appear irritable and snappy when feeling anxious.
Anxiety can also distort the internal belief system which may lead to a conflict of interest between the conscious (thinking mind) and subconscious (running things automatically mind), potentially causing a phobic response. For example, we consciously want to stroke a dog, but our subconscious tells us we were previously bitten, therefore we should feel frightened and avoid the situation.