Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, and there is overlap between stress and anxiety. Stress is related to the same ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response as anxiety, and the physical sensations of anxiety and stress may be very similar.
The cause of stress and anxiety are usually different, however. Stress focuses on mainly external pressures on us that we’re finding hard to cope with. When we are stressed, we usually know what we’re stressed about, and the symptoms of stress typically disappear after the stressful situation is over.
Anxiety, on the other hand, isn’t always as easy to figure out. Anxiety focuses on worries or fears about things that could threaten us, as well as anxiety about the anxiety itself. Stress and anxiety are both part of being human, but both can be problems if they last for a long time or have an impact on our well-being or daily life.
Where can I learn more?
- Q&A: What is the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders?
- Stress info sheet
- Wellness Module Two: Stress and Well-Being
About the author
The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit www.cmha.bc.ca.
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