Stress vs. anxiety

Alternative names
Anxiety vs. stress

The following are common questions about stress and anxiety.

What is the difference between feeling stressed and having an Anxiety disorder?


stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or even anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another.

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or fear. The source of this uneasiness is not always known or recognized, which can add to the distress you feel.

Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that involve excessive anxiety. They include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobia.

Does anger increase your risk of heart problems?

Adrenaline (sometimes referred to as the “flight or fright” hormone) increases when you are angry or stressed. High levels of adrenaline and similar stress hormones raise your blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. Stress hormones can even damage your heart directly and make you more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like Smoking or overeating. See stress and Heart attack .

What can you do to help relieve stress?

Just like causes of stress differ from person to person, what relieves stress is not the same for everyone. In general, however, making certain lifestyle changes as well as finding healthy, enjoyable ways to cope with stress helps most people. For example:

  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Don’t overeat.  
  • Get adequate amounts of sleep.  
  • Exercise regularly.  
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.  
  • Don’t use nicotine, cocaine, or other recreational drugs.  
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques like guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Try biofeedback with a certified professional to get you started.  
  • Take breaks from work. Make sure to balance fun activities with your responsibilities. Schedule some leisure time every day. Spend time with people you enjoy, including quality time with your family.  
  • Try learning to make things with your hands (like needlepoint, woodwork, or knitting), playing an instrument, or listening to soothing music.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.

Medical Encyclopedia

  A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | 0-9

All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.