Stress and anxiety are two words that are commonly used as synonyms, completely interchangeable with each other. While the symptoms can appear to be the same, there are critical differences between the two that can help to identify the source of the symptoms and seek appropriate help.  


The symptoms of stress are very similar to the symptoms of high anxiety and panic. As such, it’s understandable that the two conditions are often mistaken for one another. Both conditions are marked by racing pulse, tightening of the chest, and difficult, irregular breathing as the body fails to stabilize while believing it is in a precarious state.  Experiencing fragmented thoughts and a racing mind are also symptoms.  These symptoms are indicative of both stress and anxiety. Utilizing grounding techniques such as counting to 10 or rhythmic breathing exercises is priority number 1 – but what happens next? 


People who suffer from these attacks need to not only escape the acute symptoms but also address panic in the long-term. Differentiating between the two treatment goals, short- and long-term, is paramount when seeking appropriate treatment. The first step is asking if the stresses and anxiety are coming from an internal or external source.  


Internal Vs. External Stressors

By identifying the stressors as external or internal, we can begin to treat the root causes of these issues. Identifying tangible causes, such as school, work deadlines, or monetary concerns, can help us overcome these issues. Using moment-to-moment coping techniques is invaluable, as well. Learn to break down the different stressors into manageable pieces and set up a list of priorities to help deal with the stress. 


However, internal stressors are more indicative of an anxiety or panic attack. The afflicted person may not be able to identify one single stressor, but instead, feel like the entire world needs addressing simultaneously.  This is represented in a long list of “what-if’s” and uncertainties that plague the person’s waking moments.  This is the essence of anxiety.


Both high-stress environments and anxiety disorders need to be addressed before they get out of control. Thus, identifying the source of the problem is the first step in seeking professional help.  Alta Loma Transformational Living’s caring staff can personalize a treatment plan based on wherever life’s stressors are coming from.  Contact Alta Loma at (886) 457-3843 to take the first step.