What is the difference between stress and anxiety? According to a recent article by the American Psychological Association (APA), stress and anxiety are similar in many ways. They can both lead to similar outcomes such as insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, and irritability among other things. However, the APA pointed out that stress is usually caused by a short-term external factor, otherwise known as a stressor. Anxiety, however, is an emotional response to a possible future danger. Anxiety often persists without evidence of a reasonable threat and is excessive in intensity in whatever the given situation.
The APA noted that when stress or anxiety are mild, they can both be addressed through similar strategies. Mild stress and mild anxiety can both be greatly reduced through physical exercise, healthy eating, problem solving, and good sleep hygiene. However, if these strategies are ineffective in reducing one’s stress or anxiety, the APA recommends talking to a mental health professional. A mental health professional could help someone to determine if they are suffering from an anxiety disorder, which can persist for months and make it difficult to function in life. Anxiety disorders are very common. The APA noted that about 30% of people will experience one in their lifetime.
What is generalized anxiety disorder?
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a very common anxiety disorder. It involves experiencing very broad anxiety related to a variety of topics. Often times, people with GAD have persistent excessive worries. People with GAD frequently worry that something could go wrong. They ask themselves “What if x happens?” or “What if y happens?”
What is panic disorder?
Another common anxiety disorder is panic disorder. Panic disorder includes frequent panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense anxiety accompanied by intense physical sensations. These panic attacks often feel like dying to the person experiencing them. People with panic disorder often suffer from constant fear of their next panic attack.
How do you treat anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety or panic?
The APA noted that anxiety disorders are often treated by a psychotherapy approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. These approaches are evidence based and highly effective methods of helping people to challenge their unhelpful thoughts and face situations they would normally avoid.
If you are interested in learning more about CBT and exposure therapy schedule a free phone consultation.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and all over California.