What Is The Difference Between Fear And Anxiety?

Do you think you suffer from too much fear? Do you think your fears may be related to anxiety? Discover how to identify fear and anxiety.

The differences between fear and anxiety

We can define anxiety as a state of agitation, restlessness or anxiety of mood. The anguish that usually accompanies many illnesses, particularly certain neuroses, and that does not allow the sick to rest. I mean, thinking about it, anxiety and fear (or at least all its broad emotional “tonality”) are words that say the same thing. An anxious human being is the same as a human being with apprehension, fear and/or anguish. Of course, if we use the word fear it seems that we end up saying nothing, although it is evident that in this way, a supposed pathology of the agent would become a particular situation, with peculiar characteristics, that interacts with the characteristics of the agent.

How to differentiate fear and anxiety?

One of the keys to combat anxiety It is knowing where the fear that produces it comes from. In this way, in therapy, psychologists help their patients find the reasons for this. It is for this reason that fear and anxiety always go hand in hand, even though they are two very different feelings. Although they can be harmful in excess, fear and anxiety are an integral part of life and are often a very useful part.

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On the one hand, the fear It warns us of imminent danger, just as anxiety can make us better prepared and take extra precautions. So we need certain doses of fear and anxiety in our lives.

The problem is when anxiety is excessive or has no relation to reality and can interfere powerfully in the life of the affected person. Fear is a basic emotion that plays a very important role in anxiety pictures. When we are anxious, fear is the underlying psychological state that drives anxiety.

In this way, in order to identify anxiety It can be very useful to know the changes that fear produces in our body and mind when it is very present. In this way, when the emotion of fear and anxiety are very present, the so-called anxiety attack or crisis can occur. When this is a persistent condition, it is necessary to consult with a psychologist.

Physiological changes of fear

The main difference between the fear and anxiety It is the frequency with which these two states occur in our body. For this reason, it may be important to identify some states that fear produces in our body.

1. Dizziness

Its real cause is due to cervical tension that reduces blood supply to the head.

2. Tachycardia

When we are in danger, real or imagined, the heart works harder and faster. Thus, it sends more blood to the areas involved in the alarm reaction, so that they can function more effectively.

3. Tingling in the extremities or loss of sensation

The influx of blood is greater in places where it may be most needed, leaving the rest of the body with less irrigation.

4. Heat, sweat or chills

There is an increase in temperature in the most vital areas of the body, and in return, our main cooling system, sweat, is activated.

5. Tightness or pain in the chest or left arm

It is due to tension in the intercostal muscles that occurs when hyperventilating or keeping the lungs too full of air. It can also be due to body postures that we habitually use incorrectly.

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6. Shortness of breath

This symptom is very surprising, since it is actually due to increased oxygen retention in the blood due to hyperventilation, which is the opposite of asphyxiation. This, together with the decrease in carbon dioxide in the blood, leads to the narrowing of certain blood vessels, and all of this can produce internal sensations such as dizziness, a feeling of suffocation, blurred vision or suffocation, among others.

7. Tremor, pricks or paresthesias (Numbness)

These changes are due to excessive muscle tension.

8. Difficulty thinking habitually

When we feel a very intense emotion such as fear or anger, for example, what is called emotional hijacking occurs, which causes us temporary difficulty in thinking and acting in the way we normally would.

9. Nausea or abdominal discomfort

They are normal effects on the digestive system due to anxiety, they do not pose any danger. That is, it is a somatization that some people manifest, in such a way that when anxiety is reduced, these changes will disappear.

10. Tightness or strange sensations in the head

The reason is the decrease in oxygen in certain areas of the brain, mainly due to cervical contractures that make blood flow to the head difficult.

11. Tiredness or exhaustion

It is due to keeping the muscles stretched and tense for a long time, including during sleep, when we are not aware but we are tense and lack deep sleep.

12. Any feared internal sensation

When we are focusing our attention on capturing these changes and sensations, the perception of any sensation increases. You can try it, for example, with tingling in a leg. We must also keep in mind that when we are starting or maintaining an anxiety crisis, any thought that it poses a risk or danger, or that it is not normal or rational, produces feedback that feeds back and increases.

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How to identify fear?

Why is it important to identify fear and anxiety?

The anxiety It is a symptom that occurs in an exacerbated, primitive and irrational way of an emotion that we have all felt at some point: fear. But not everything stops at that, but it is the beginning of a series of feelings that make you even more uncomfortable: confusion, worry, insecurity, a feeling of uncertainty, hypervigilance, and a long etcetera that always leads us to the same thing. Fear.

But if we focus on the physiological, motor and behavioral components (tachycardia, hyperventilation, defensive behavior, search for security, submission, avoidance, aggressiveness, etc.), you can see that all of them would also occur in a life-threatening situation. In short, an adaptive mechanism that allows us to be alert in situations of uncertainty, thus helping us to face the challenges before us. Otherwise, if you do not tolerate said anxiety, will easily overtake you. Paralyzing you. With the probability of generating an anxiety crisis.

The anxiety crisis It usually occurs when you let your guard down, your defenses are at their lowest, and it is at that moment that anxiety appears most strongly, like a gale that leaves you on the ground. This warning, clear and forceful, is your body making a call for help, taking its own voice and taking over the helm of your life.

Understanding the anxiety and fear As our body’s expression in the face of a vital threat, you can assume that you feel that something threatens your life, your survival. Obviously this changes depending on the particularities of each person. Some people feel anxiety due to excessive family or work responsibilities. Others feel their lives are threatened in a less direct, but equally painful, way.

Perhaps we should rethink the way we live, our priorities, the sometimes too frenetic pace with which we conduct ourselves… As obvious as it may seem, what scares us is what we must try to solve. Identify it and analyze it, accept it and have enough courage to change it. And not only that, we must learn to manage anxiety And to do this, we must first know what it is and what it means to us.