Imagine this: It’s been a long day at work, and you come home feeling exhausted. You feel tension in your neck and your lower back – it’s been causing you distress all day long. Whenever you think about a project that you’re working on at work, it’s causing your heart to race; worrying thoughts about how you’re going to get it done, what your boss is going to say to you about it, and whether or not your coworkers are going to like it plague your mind most of the day.
With this particular situation, you would be experiencing both stress and anxiety – but can you tell which one is which? Understanding the difference can help you determine exactly what you need to help you relieve the symptoms you’re experiencing. However, both stress and anxiety often go hand in hand.
Stress is defined as, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances”. As stated by The American Institute of Stress, stress can affect many parts of your body:
- Nervous system – your body goes into “fight” mode to fight off the perceived threat; adrenal glands being released can cause your heart to race, your blood pressure to rise, glucose levels to change, and more.
- Musculoskeletal system – contraction of muscles due to stress can cause headaches, migraines, and other conditions.
Respiratory system – hyperventilation and panic attacks are common for people under stress as breathing is directly affected.
Cardiovascular system – increases in heart rate and contractions to the heart muscle increase the amount of blood pumped throughout the body, which can lead to inflammation of coronary arteries.
Endocrine system – when cortisol is produced, “stress hormones” are released; cortisol and epinephrine both become released, which can raise glucose levels.
Gastrointestinal system – eating more or less, feelings of “butterflies” or nausea, and diarrhea/constipation may occur when major stress is involved.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined as, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome”. Anxiety may stem from stress, which can really double up on the distress that you feel. The symptoms are very similar, but the main difference is that anxiety is typically more future-focused in terms of worry. Anxiety can cause similar effects on the body as listed above – making it very important that you seek help from a reputable treatment center if your anxiety is making it difficult for you to function in daily life.
Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.