Differences between stress and anxiety

diferencia entre estres y ansiedad

Knowing the difference between stress and anxiety is important, starting from the fact that they have similar symptoms. However, it is important to highlight that its causes and effects are diverse, so it is ideal to be clear about what we are experiencing, in order to seek the necessary help according to our particular needs.

Anxiety and stress affect our autonomic nervous system, and with it our emotional state, our physical health and our thoughts.

Taking into account that stress and anxiety are problems that affect millions of people in the world, today we want to explore the difference between stress and anxiety, so that you can differentiate between their symptoms.


What is stress?

Stress is a physiological response to situations that generate discomfort, discomfort or frustration. This manifests as a feeling of physical, mental or emotional tension that ends up affecting different areas of a human being’s life, such as mood, their ability to socialize and even their productivity levels.

Although we could say that stress is a natural emotional response of the human being, when faced with situations that are not to his liking or that exceed him, when the state of stress exceeds the moments in which there are specific stimuli, and extends over time, we are talking about chronic stress , a pathology that must be treated with professional help.

Symptoms of stress

The symptoms of stress vary depending on whether we are talking about acute stress or chronic stress, however the most general signs are:

  • irritable behavior
  • Disorders in sleep patterns
  • Headaches
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lack of energy
  • Neck or jaw tension
  • Constant feeling of fatigue or tiredness
  • Loss of desire or sexual problems

Generally speaking, these are the most common stress symptoms. If you detect them in you, it is necessary to look for the necessary tools to work on this condition.

sintoma estres

What is anxiety?

Anxiety can be considered as a normal emotional response, when the person feels threatened by internal or external situations that represent a danger to their integrity , and even when faced with experiences that make them feel insecure, such as speaking in public, attending a job interview. or take an important test or assessment.

Anxiety manifests as a feeling of fear, restlessness and intense nervousness, and although it is a natural response to certain stimuli, when we are talking about cases in which it is a recurring state or becomes so intense that it affects a person’s daily life , we are facing an anxiety disorder that must be intervened so that it does not affect the integral health of a person.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can have different levels, starting with feelings of insecurity and going up to panic attacks . However, regardless of the case, the most common anxiety symptoms are:

  • Fast heart rate or tachycardia
  • labored or labored breathing
  • feeling of fear
  • feeling of anguish
  • Feeling of imminent danger or that something catastrophic is about to happen
  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • sweating
  • excessive worry
  • distressing thoughts

Broadly speaking, these are the most common anxiety symptoms. If you detect some of them, it is best to look for tools to control your anxiety and if it is a chronic case, seek professional help from a psychologist.

What to keep in mind to differentiate stress from anxiety?

It is likely that with what you have read so far, you already have an idea of ​​the difference between stress and anxiety. However, we want to further explore its effects so that you can fully understand the differences.


Stress is caused by thoughts or situations that generate frustration or discomfort in the person . It can also be the product of an overload of activities that the person cannot fully cope with, such as excessive work or dysfunctional dynamics at home.

Anxiety, for its part, is triggered by external stimuli, situations that generate nervousness in the person , such as an experience that implies danger or facing experiences for which they do not feel prepared. Likewise, anxiety can originate from internal causes, such as emotions, thoughts or sensations that generate fear in the person , either because he is afraid of facing them or as a consequence of past traumatic situations that have not been dealt with effectively.


Taking into account the previous section, it could be said that the stress triggers are situations or stimuli that are faced and that generate discomfort or frustration . While anxiety is a response of fear or panic that depends more on the perception that the subject has about what he is experiencing or the level of management he has of his thoughts and emotions.


Although in some cases the symptoms of stress and anxiety are similar, when a person is stressed they usually feel physically and emotionally stressed , in addition to having irritable behavior and reactive attitudes to the slightest stimulus.

On the other hand, when someone has anxiety, the person not only experiences tension, but also feels a high degree of anguish, worry, nervousness, and the feeling of not being able to control what is coming or what they are experiencing.

Symptom Duration

The duration of the stress can vary according to the type of stress the person is experiencing. In other words, if you are preparing a work delivery, the stress may last until you deliver it and everything returns to normal. In the case of chronic stress, the person can feel stressed for weeks and even months.

As for anxiety symptoms, these can occur for weeks, after experiencing a traumatic experience or stressful event. The symptoms will occur temporarily. However, if we are talking about an anxiety disorder, it can last more than six months and will tend to worsen if its symptoms are not treated.

In the case of anxiety crises, these are episodes in which anxiety symptoms are felt with such superlative intensity that the person may even believe that they are going to die, and they can occur for periods of up to an hour.

Symptom intensity

The intensity of the symptoms, both stress and anxiety, will depend on their degree. In this way, adaptive stress can generate discomfort but it is somewhat transitory, and in the case of chronic stress, although the symptoms are intense, the person can be in control of himself. 

With regard to anxiety, the symptoms can range from catastrophic thoughts or feelings of moderate fear, to true panic attacks in which the person feels that they cannot defend themselves and may even lose control of themselves.


The severity of stress and anxiety will depend on the level to which you let the symptoms escalate. It should be noted that any symptom is an indication that you should pay attention to your mental health and look for tools that help you manage your condition, remembering that the faster the symptoms are treated, the easier it will be to alleviate them. 

So how are anxiety and stress different?

Taking all of the above into account, the difference between stress and anxiety is that stress is the natural reaction to certain stimuli that cause discomfort, while anxiety could be seen as the body’s response to stress.

In simple words, stress would speak to us of situations that trigger frustration and discomfort, capable of being handled by the subject, while anxiety could derive from excessive stress that alters the subject’s perception of internal external stimuli, generating states of anguish.

How do I know if I need to see a specialist?

The indicator that you need specialized help is the recognition that you have various symptoms of anxiety or depression.  This should be the sure sign that you need to do something about your mental health. 

Currently, in addition to professional diagnoses, there are tools such as Psiconnea, a platform specialized in mental health care, where people can evaluate their mental and emotional situation, in addition to receiving support to improve mood and treat symptoms. like anxiety and stress. 

This platform integrates Artificial Intelligence and Big Data technology, with advanced psychological knowledge,  in order to be able to assess the specific needs of each user, and provide the necessary alternatives to alleviate symptoms according to the particular case of each person. 

When users enter  our application , they can specify their current conditions that will be evaluated in order to identify the necessary tools for the person to recover their mental health, carry out personalized follow-up and develop strategies that allow them to improve their quality of life. 

In this way, if you have any doubts as to whether you need to visit a specialist, enter Psiconnea, start working for your mental health, and in case you need to see a psychologist or psychoanalyst, the same platform will make the recommendation.