The Difference Between Anxiety and Worry

Have you ever wondered what is causing that pounding heart and racing mind? It could be a very normal amount of the jitters. Or, it could be something a little more serious that might demand some attention and support.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to a perceived threat. When the brain believes the body is in danger, it will send out signals which kick on the fight-or-flight response. Even though the word ‘anxiety’ may sound negative, in itself, it is not bad. Normal levels of anxiety may show up as low levels of fear, apprehension, mild muscle tension, or a small increase in sweating. These symptoms do not negatively interfere with daily functioning and may actually help with problem solving, motivation, and work ethic!

The 3 Components of Anxiety

Anxiety has three main parts:

  • Emotional (feelings)
  • Physiological (bodily responses)
  • Cognitive (thoughts)
What Is Worry?

Worry is an important player in anxiety but since it only occurs in the mind, it is only one of the three building blocks. It involves the thoughts and images that occur as we proactively try to avoid or solve anticipated potential threats.

The Difference

In general, anxiety shows up more in the body and worry shows up more in the mind. In other words, “worrying is thinking about a potential problem, and anxiety is feeling it in your body.” It is very normal to experience these two responses from time to time, as long as it does not interfere with daily functioning.

When It’s Time To Act

If anxiety levels rise high enough and begin to impair daily function, it may be time to seek help. Anxiety disorders are characterized by the following:

  • severe and excessive worry
  • constant avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations
  • high levels of distress
  • an inability to function normally and complete daily tasks
  • regular panic attacks

If you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, do not hesitate in contacting your doctor today to schedule a visit. Be open and honest about everything you are experiencing so that your doctor can best support you and help get you back to optimal health and wellbeing.