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3 Difference Between Fear and Anxiety

Updated: May 23


The two words which are often used interchangeably are Anxiety and Fear, which can feel the same but are not.


According to research from the University of California, an individual experiences 27 different emotions in their lives. Many of these emotions are similar that it becomes really hard to identify when one experiences them. Anxiety and Fear are examples of those emotions that can become easily confusing sometimes as both of them produce a similar response to real or perceived stress.




Anxiety can manifest in people differently, as for many people it surfaces through the anticipation of an unknown future event, or sometimes levels of anxiety increase when it is prompted by an overreaction to a threat that you perceive as more series than it actually is.

However, Fear is typically an immediate response to a threat, whereas one experiences Anxiety while anticipating an expected or unknown threat. Fear is a biological response and Anxiety is an emotion regarding things we think might happen. But many experts have stated that there are more important differences between the two, and examining them can help you determine which one you are really experiencing.


What Is Fear?


Fear is an emotion, that has evolved to keep us safe and is the most crucial reason for the survival of our species. A million years ago, if a human was living in the depths of a jungle where he saw a flash of black and orange, their heart would start pounding, the body would secrete huge amounts of sweat, and he might even struggle to breathe. Fear would automatically kick in as a response and alert him about getting ready to fight with the approaching tiger or run away from him.

An emotional response to a known or definite threat is called Fear. If you’re walking down a dark street and someone is following you with a knife, whatever you’re going to experience is fear. When the danger is in the front, real, definite, and immediate, your body will go through a series of biochemical responses where your sympathetic nervous system will get activated. Your body will release some amounts of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) which will result in either staying or escaping the danger, which is called the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.

As a survival mechanism, Fear plays a vital role in managing stress and detecting hazards in our environment. It functions as an alerting system which in return helps us shield ourselves from danger and gives us some freedom to make the necessary decision to stay or leave.

Many of us blame ourselves for having emotions so it is worth restating that the core emotions, one of which is fear are an automatic reaction that one cannot prevent. The universe has designed humans in this way so that we can protect ourselves, as, without fear, we’d be easier to prey.


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety comes from a thought which has evolved in a way to protect us from future danger. In anxiety one focuses on a possibility, such as being ravaged by a tiger or attacked by a criminal at night, instead of the reality. Moreover, if an individual has encountered a criminal the sense of anxiety is going to increase when returned to the same spot.

Anxiety is a natural response to a stressful or a perceived threatening situation, and it alerts an individual to a foreseen threat. The sense of anxiety acts as a cue that allows us to make necessary adjustments and appropriate measures to cope with the stressors.

Anxiety is a crucial emotion as without it one could probably get into trouble, make poor life decisions, or neglect responsibilities and obligations. Anxiety feels unpleasant, however, a reasonable amount can be helpful. And note that anxiety can manifest in people differently, as for many people it surfaces through the anticipation of an unknown future event, or sometimes levels of anxiety increase when it is prompted by an overreaction to a threat that you perceive as more series than it actually is.

The kinds of uneven reactions produce unwanted intense feelings of anxiety, and consequently, the reactions are displayed through self-destructive behaviors like overthinking, avoiding anxiety-provoking situations, obsessive worrying, etc. Intense feelings of anxiety can also lead to dependent behaviors like substance abuse or overeating.

Difference Between Effects of Fear & Anxiety

Anxiety and Fear produce similar effects on an individual which become really difficult to distinguish one from the other. Fear is an automatic response that is rooted since the very beginning of human beings. Whereas, Anxiety is linked to fear, is basically an apprehension of perceived and anticipated future threats. Anxiety differs from fear on the basis of the severity of the effects it has on an individual.



Fear

Physiological Symptoms


· Sweating

· Increased Heartbeat

· Quick Breathing

· Shortness of Breath

· Trembling

· Nausea

· Hot Flushes or Chills

· Dry Mouth



Anxiety

Physiological Symptoms

· Sweating

· Increased Heartbeat

· Shortness of Breath

· Nausea

· Numbness or Tingling

· Hot Flushes or Chills

· Dizziness

· Headaches

· Muscle Pain

· Fatigue


Fear

Cognitive Symptoms

· Feeling Overwhelmed

· Feeling Out of Control

· Unable to Think Clearly


Anxiety

Cognitive Symptoms

· Feeling Overwhelmed

· Unable to Think Clearly

· Excessive Worry

· Catastrophizing

· Racing Thoughts

· Irritability


Fear

Behavioral Symptoms

· Fight-or-Flight Response

· Freezing

· Clenched Fists

· Violent Behavior


Anxiety

Behavioral Symptoms

· Inability to sit still or remain calm

· Social Withdrawal

· Difficulty performing everyday tasks

· Restlessness and Agitation


How can BluetoYellow help in your journey to overcoming your Anxiety?


BluetoYellow is working towards providing quality online counseling sessions to the young population at affordable prices. Our dynamic therapists follow a client-centric approach that creates a safe and confidential space for you to express your emotions and thoughts without any judgment.

If you or you know someone who can be benefited from the blog, forward the page to bring awareness to them.

You can start your mental health journey with the small step of booking an appointment with BluetoYellow today.


Plan your Journey to Happiness with BluetoYellow!

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