I am learning about stress and anxiety recently. I understood what stress is, but I couldn't get exactly what anxiety is. I know there are six types of anxiety disorders, and I understood them. But anxiety is a widely-known term used a lot on the internet, but I don't know what exactly they mean by that.

One difference I came across is that the stress after the stressor is gone is known as anxiety. So if someone can tell me what exactly this anxiety is, I will be glad. Thanks.


2 Answers 2


What is Anxiety? Give this a read. I like this explanation of anxiety best, however:

A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

What is Stress? Give this a read also. For an explanation of stress as it pertains to your question, I like this best:

A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

How do the two differ? One can cause the other. Give this a read. Ultimately, stress can lead to anxiety, meaning that mental or emotional strain can lead to a general sense of fear toward imminent events with uncertain outcomes.

Furthermore, everything we experience in our lives where we feel discomfort can be described as stress or stressful, but it's not until it leads to an immobilizing state where we cannot process the world around us – e.g., inability to move, speak or think because of an onset of fear caused, typically, by an interpretation of a previous event where the outcome was too painful, or in other ways emotionally damaging, that one might then attribute said stress to be anxiety.


Everyone normally experiences anxiety. Worrying is a form of anxiety, as is nervousness. People have normal anxieties about all kinds of things: a coming review or exam, an illness or our health, our weight, our food, social gatherings with persons not well known, public speaking, financial uncertainties, the way we are disciplining our children, whether our children will turn out well, what we should do with our lives, etc., etc.

Anxiety is part of every life. If you have ever worried, fussed, hovered, feared, gotten butterflies in your stomach, or wanted to "run and hide", you have experienced anxiety.

Anxiety occurs on a continuum. It is abnormal to feel no anxiety. On the other end, it is abnormal to feel too much anxiety, or irrational anxiety.

But when you say, "I couldn't get exactly what anxiety is", it's because you're calling it something else. If you've ever been surprised (not in a good way) by a police car behind you turning on it's lights, or have been nervous about an approaching dog, worried you left the stove on, a window opened or the doors unlocked, have feared getting into trouble, worried about meeting your girlfriend's parents or felt uncomfortable walking in a bad neighborhood alone, then you know what anxiety is.

An anxiety disorder occurs when anxiety is so intense that it is interfering in some way with your normal life. But since you did not ask about anxiety disorders, I will leave it at that.


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