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Anxiety and Fear- The difference between the two sides of a coin

11 September, 2021 Anuja Sahi

Fear and anxiety are often taken together, but they are not the same thing. Despite the fact that symptoms often overlap, a person’s experience with these symptoms varies depending on their circumstances. Anxiety is triggered by an unknown, predicted, or poorly defined threat, whereas fear is triggered by a recognized or understood threat. Generally, fear is seen to be a reaction to a specific, observable threat, whereas anxiety is thought to be a diffuse, objectless, future-oriented fear.

Let us discuss in detail the difference between anxiety and fear- The Two sides of a coin.

What is Fear?

Fear is an emotional reaction to a real threat. If you were walking down a dark street and someone pointed a gun at you and said, “This is a robbery,” you would certainly be terrified. The threat is real, present, and imminent. Terror has a distinct and present object. What are the traits of fear’s acts and thoughts? People flee for their lives when they are afraid. We become self-aware and hyper-vigilant. When a human or animals feel threatened, fear increases metabolism in preparation for an impending need to defend or run, dilates pupils, and increases hearing so that the terrified person or animal may better assess the situation. A terrified individual appears pale because blood is draining away from the skin. Someone who is terrified may become paralyzed.

Fear is a survival mechanism that helps us manage stress and recognize dangers in our environment. Fear serves as an early warning system that can protect us from harm and give us enough time to make proper decisions, such as whether to stay or go.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human reaction to a stressful or potentially dangerous scenario. Anxiety is supposed to have evolved to protect us from future danger by warning us when a threat is imminent. This cue allows us to make the necessary modifications and take the necessary precautions to deal with the stressors or threats in our surroundings. Anxiety is not unwanted and unpleasant, without anxiety we would not be able to make good decisions, will tend to deny life responsibilities, be surrounded by poor decisions, and would fall into trouble.

Difference between Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety and fear both cause the body to behave in the same way. The distinction is in the activation’s cause. Is it a current threat or a threat that will occur in the future? The body and the brain are both stressed in both cases. It is simpler to relax when a physical threat is no longer present, as opposed to a circumstance where the threat is primarily in our minds. Unfortunately, our bodies and brains can’t tell the difference between a genuine and immediate threat and one that is only in our heads right now. A stress response happens in any circumstances.

The fundamental difference between fear and anxiety is the nature of the threat, as well as the physiological aspects of experiencing the two separate emotions.

Physical and Psychological symptoms of fear and anxiety

Fear and Anxiety includes the following physical symptoms:

Psychological symptoms of fear and anxiety:

  • Out of the crowd feeling
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Feeling out of control

Responses in both the situation

  1. The Fear Response
    • The acute emotional state is triggered in response to a real, imminent, and objective threat to one’s life or survival.
    • The “fight or flight” reaction is triggered, which is a physiological condition that aids survival in life-threatening situations by raising physiological arousal to either stay and battle the threat or depart swiftly.
    • In response to the threat in their immediate environment, the person may feel a sense of gloom, discomfort, and apprehension.
  2.  The Anxiety Response
    • It is a subjective emotional condition that occurs in response to perceived stress in the environment
    • The threat’s origins could be vague or unknown
    • There is no immediate danger to life
    • Is the fear of a future threat, the “what ifs,” and the quest for prospective danger.

Know how to process your fear and anxiety?

When core emotions like fear are fully and safely experienced in the body- when we no longer feel threatened or in danger-they settle down. We can follow the sensations of fear in the body, such as trembling, until they release or vanish, by using deep belly breathing and a thoughtful, inquiring, and loving approach.

Anxiety, on the other hand, must be calmed not only to feel better but also to let us connect with the underlying emotions. Finding a quiet spot to slow down, feel our feet on the ground, and take six or so deep belly breaths might be useful while working through worry. This not only prepares you for processing emotions but also helps to reduce anxiety.