Stress and Anxiety
There is a pretty big difference between stress and anxiety. “Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor or stressor. Anxiety is stress that continues after that stressor is gone.”
Stress steps from the pressure that we feel in life. It could be that we are pushed by our work or really any task that puts us under pressure. The human body automatically deals with this pressure by releasing adrenaline, our blood pressure rises, as well as a number of other negative changes and/or effects.
An example of a negative effect from stress is anxiety. It can be combined with physical symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath as well. Not everyone will experience stress in the same way – and not everyone will find the same things as stressful as others. Research indicates that women with children, for example, have higher levels of stress related hormones in their blood than women without children. Although this doesn’t mean that women without children don’t experience stress, it does mean that women without children just may not experience stress as often, or to the same degree as women with children do.
The feeling of anxiety is much different than the feeling of stress. Anxiety is more a feeling of unease. For some people, anxiety interferes with normal life. Excessive anxiety can also be associated with other psychiatric conditions such as depression. Doctor’s usually consider anxiety abnormal when it is prolonged or severe, or if it occurs with the absence of a stressful event, or when it interferes with everyday activities such as going to work or school.
There are physical signs of anxiety as well. You may experience some, all, or none of them.
• Dry Mouth
• Heart palpitations
• Unable to concentrate
Symptoms of anxiety can also be triggered through the use of some drugs – both prescription and recreational. Such drugs consist of caffeine, nicotine, decongestants, some antidepressants, cocaine, amphetamines, some diet pills, and ADHD medications to name a few. Poor diet can also contribute to both stress and anxiety.
Sometimes, when a person suffers from anxiety and stress, their body will react to the situation. Panic attacks can be characterized by the following:
• Heart palpitations
• Pounding heart
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Numbness or tingling sensations
• Chills or hot flashes
Though your body is trying to tell you to relax, it is often very difficult to relax while suffering from any of those symptoms. It’s estimated that approximately 5% of people in the United States suffer from some type of anxiety disorder and it could be anything from an occasional bout from a certain situation – like public speaking – to much more frequent bouts that prevent people from functioning in their lives.
If you experience a panic attack, the first thing you must do is try to recognize that it is only a panic attack and try to relax. Concentrate on your breathing and focus on making every breath even and steady. As your breathing slows down, so will your heart rate, and then the panic will dissipate.
If you’re concerned that your stress or anxiety level is abnormal, speak to your doctor!