Difference Between Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two things that are connected to our lives at least at some point over the years. There is absolutely no one who cannot relate to these. There has been a consistent argument on their definitions and the distinguishable differences because they tend to look alike in many ways. However, certain differences are detectable which helps us to clear any doubts.


The definition of stress has evolved over the years and still evolving. The first ever definition was stated by Hans Selye, and he stated “The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. In his definition we can see stress is not defined as anything “bad” but for people’s definition stress was predominantly bad situations. Currently we use the revised definition, “Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand”. But the misconception that stress is a bad thing has not faded from our minds yet.

When body identifies any demand, externally or internally, certain chemicals are released in order to provide strength and energy to deal with stress. Some chemicals produce visible effects, and that gives us a sign when a person is ‘stressed’. Stress can be resulted by both good and bad experiences. While the fear of failing an exam is a stress, winning a game is also a cause for stress. The reasons may vary and make stress quite a personal experience. Stress can also be classified as survival stress (fight or flight response), internal stress (emotional stress), environmental stress (due to harsh environmental conditions and environmental fluctuations), and stress due to fatigue and over work. People who are stressed are often sick and tired, weak in concentration. If a person always undergoes stress it may lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and etc.


Anxiety is one way of responding to stress. Anxiety sometimes may have no specific reason. Just worrying about future, work, family may also be parts of anxiety. If the anxiety symptoms such as headaches, chest pains, fatigue, nausea, increased heart rate, short and fast breaths, and mental breakdowns occur steadily for a long duration it is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Panic attacks and Obsessive compulsive disorder are also anxiety related. Although stress was never considered a mental disorder, anxiety (GAD) can be considered as one. For some people, anxiety is triggered through genetic predisposition and early traumatic experiences. Whatever the cause is, both these can be dealt with. Healthy diet, daily exercises, good habits, enough sleep, and relaxation exercises like yoga can help a person to overcome anxiety as well as stress.

What is the difference between Stress and Anxiety?

• Stress generally has an identifiable cause, but for anxiety it is not always necessary.

• Stress is never classified as a mental disorder, but anxiety without a definitive reason is considered as a mental disorder.

• Stress is generally a temporary problem and fades away ones the stressor (the cause) is absent but the anxiety can stay for much longer durations.