20 Jan 2021

Difference between Fear and Anxiety.

It is normal to get afraid and nervous in our day-to-day life during various situations like appearing for an interview, going for an exam, meeting an important person for the first time, and so on. This fear comes with physiological symptoms like racing heart and sweating etc. Thoughts that might accompany such situations are, wanting to run away or avoid the situation at all. However, if the fear is persistent and has no apparent reason, then it might be a sign of a mental health issue, known as anxiety, which needs immediate medical attention for preventing it from affecting the quality of life.   

Here is how you can distinguish between Anxiety and Fear.

Symptoms of Fear 

When someone is in fear, they show the following symptoms:-

  • The thought that comes to their mind is, "I am afraid". 
  • The physiological symptoms include increased heartbeat, fast and heavy breathing, etc.
  • There is a strong urge to escape from the situation causing fear.


Symptoms of Anxiety

On the other hand, when someone suffers from anxiety, they have the following symptoms:-

  • They have a negative mood, they worry about possible future dangers and threats, they are self pre-occupied(i.e., they are overly concerned about their desires, needs, and interests), and they are unable to predict or control the occurrence of future dangers or threats. 
  • The physiological symptoms include chronic tension and over-arousal. The full fight-or-flight response is not there, but the patient is primed for fight-or-flight for anticipated danger.
  • The person avoids the anticipated danger or threatening situations but there is no immediate urgency to escape as in case of fear.

The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and, are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional with any questions you have regarding a medical health condition.

Reference: American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013).

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