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Anxiety and Stress

Anxieties and stress is an age old phenomenon prevalent since ancient times of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire and even before that. However, it is needless too mention that it too is increasing and even threatens to shoot up in society. Furthermore what’s worse it has become all pervading in nearly all strata and classes of society in the modern world and its societies, whereas in ancient and medieval history it was usually restricted to the nobles and the ruling classes.

The main causes of this general increase in anxiety and stress in modern living is due to several factors. A lot of research is being undertaken to pinpoint those. However, urbanisation, the stress of studies, earning a living and finding a vocation is taking a toll on our minds like never before. Other than these adjusting to your boss, co-workers, spouse, neighbours, the coming of children in your lives adds more to our anxiety and stress than it ever did before. This may be because we live in nuclear families or perhaps we don’t have the support of friends and particularly relatives like we did before.

Needless to mention an increase in anxiety and stress in our lives and that of our family threatens to disrupt our peace and well being. It also threatens to damage not only our psychological and mental health but also our physical health. It is pertinent to point out at this juncture that there are some basic differences between anxiety and stress though people generally tend to use these two terms simultaneously.

Looking from the outside it can be difficult to spot the differences between stress and anxiety. Both can lead to sleepless nights, exhaustion, excessive worry, lack of focus, and irritability. Even physical symptoms – like rapid heart rate, muscle tension, and headaches – can impact both people experiencing stress and those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. With symptoms that can appear interchangeable, it can be difficult to know when to work on deep breathing and when to seek professional help.

A detailed study and analysis of these differences is worth a research paper. In a nutshell however, stress is your body’s reaction to a trigger and is generally a short-term experience. Therefore stress is a response to a threat in any given situation.

Kindly note that stress can be both positive and negative. Modern research suggests that some stress during adolescent and teenage years helps to develops one’s faculties and prepares a person for life. When stress kicks in and helps you pull off that deadline you thought was a lost cause, it’s positive. Stress often brings out the best in some persons – a classic case is sprinter Jesse Owens. When stress results in insomnia, poor concentration, and impaired ability to do the things you normally do, it’s negative.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a sustained mental health disorder that can be triggered by stress. Anxiety doesn’t fade into the distance once the threat is mediated. Anxiety hangs around for the long haul, and can cause significant impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning. It also generally causes long term damage to mental and physical health if professional help is not sought. This is where we come in.