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Is Stress Linked to Anxiety?

Chronic stress is known to be bad for health, and is inextricably linked with busy, modern lives. Many people who suffer from stress also report symptoms of anxiety, a distressing psychological condition, and wonder if the two are connected. Read on to learn more about stress and anxiety and whether there is a link between them.

Stress and anxiety are troubling conditions and can affect everyday life

Stress

Without stress, there would be little motivation, and nothing would get done. However, it's important to keep stress levels within a healthy level. When stress becomes chronic or unreasonable, stress response can lead to various physical and physiological conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or a weakened immune system. Many factors can contribute to stress, such as bereavement, work or family problems, or even genetics. Stress that takes a toll on your health or life must be dealt with as soon as possible.

Anxiety

Anxiety is completely normal when under threat. The feeling keeps the mind focused on finding a solution to the perceived danger. The anxiety response consists of a rush of adrenaline, contracted muscles, and inability to think of anything besides the problem, so it's very natural in the short term. Once anxiety becomes chronic, the prolonged physiological and psychological responses can lead to muscle tension, inability to concentrate, and rapid heartbeat.

The Link

Stress and anxiety are similar in many ways, and sufferers of one condition often find they eventually suffer from the other one, too. They produce similar physiological responses and are caused by many of the same factors. They are a cause and effect of each other; one symptom of anxiety is chronic stress, and developing chronic stress can lead to thought patterns and lifestyle habits that cause anxiety.

A few reasons that anxiety and stress seem to contribute to each other include:

Poor coping response

Having poor coping strategies in dealing with either stress or anxiety can damage further coping ability. This way, the sufferer becomes far more susceptible to developing the other condition, as self-esteem and confidence is low.

Hormone and neurotransmitter misfiring

Dealing with stress or anxiety can change the brain chemistry, which can then affect proper regulation of bodily functions. As a result, having one of the conditions for a long period of time can begin to produce the wrong amounts of neurotransmitters, adrenaline, and cortisol. Improper balance of these compounds is known to contribute to both stress and anxiety.

Negative thinking

Negative thinking patterns are created and contribute to both stress and anxiety, so both conditions can occur at any time. For example, stress can lead the person to feel certain that she will experience more trouble in the future,which result in anxiety.

Stress and anxiety are troubling conditions and can affect everyday life. The link between them is strong, making it highly likely a sufferer of one will develop the other. However, the good news is that because they are so similar, they can be dealt with using the same methods, so dealing with one automatically helps relieve the other.

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Sources:
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2014). Tips to Manage Stress and Anxiety. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Stress and anxiety: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003211.htm