Stress vs Anxiety

A student stressing over their homework. Photo taken by Nya Perry.

A student stressing over their homework. Photo taken by Nya Perry.

Nya Perry, Contributing Writer

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Anxiety and stress are two things that come up abundantly in the life of a highschooler. They are both very similar to each other that sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference and how to get help.

Stress is a feeling and experience that everyone, all over the world, goes through and deals with in their day to day lives.

“Stress could happen at a lot of different levels.” said Solon High School (SHS) Guidance Counselor, Ann Trocchio, ”Stress is based on things that happen in your life that put pressure on your beliefs or your values or things that happened to you that aren’t favorable.”

Even if stress seems like it only has negative effects, stress can even act as a stimulus in life.

“Stressing over something else can really help someone get things done, and it could actually be beneficial to someone and move them in the direction of motivating them,”  Valerie Smith, one of two SHS psychologists said.

Unlike stress, anxiety is an ongoing mental disorder that can over take a person’s entire life and requires professional medical help.

“Anxiety is persistent and ongoing and is something that is so intense that it is impairing someone’s life at some capacity,” said Smith.

The similarities between stress and anxiety vary between symptoms, causes and treatments.

There are many different stressors in high school which can affect a student with an anxiety disorder as well as a student with stress going on in their life.

“I think that [high schoolers] compare each other,” said Trocchio. “I think you compare each other economically, I think you compare each other academically and I think that comparison creates stress and competition, and I think some competition is healthy but excessive amounts of competition is not. All of you have very high aspirations which [are] positive but on the other hand it’s so negative. When you take rigorous courses and join too many clubs, you have high expectations that you’re going to be perfect in every area and when that doesn’t happen you have a difficult time dealing with that.”

Melissa Lim, SHS senior, thinks that students in high school especially, even herself, tend to blur the line between stress and anxiety.

“I think that people do conjoin stress and anxiety because stress and anxiety are similar in a lot of ways,” said Lim. Having a lot of stress in life can also make someone anxiety even worse and [increase] your amount of anxiety. I tend to mix them together because their symptoms are so close in similarity.”

The one big difference in having an anxiety disorder versus being stressed is time.

“Duration is important when you look at an anxiety disorder,” said Smith. “It has to be present for a certain amount of time or over a certain period of time, it can’t be something that comes just because a test is coming up.”

Though time is the biggest sign of an anxiety disorder there are many other symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, irritability, sleeping problems, headaches and frequent panic attacks.

Anxiety can also be linked to other mental instability which can help you understand if what you are experiencing is in fact an anxiety disorder.

“Sometimes [anxiety] can [increase within a person because of] depression or more chemical imbalances within someone,” said Trocchio.

Stress also has different symptoms to it. The symptoms can range from low energy and bad self-esteem to rapid heartbeat or insomnia.

Because the symptoms for both anxiety and stress are so similar it can be hard to know when you should get professional help or when you should just instill more coping methods in your daily life.

There are various coping methods that can be used for a person who experiences strenuous amounts of stress, like breathing techniques,seeing a therapist, music, journaling or even just telling someone you trust about your stress. Like stress, people with an anxiety disorder also implement those same coping methods but also the addition of medications to lower and control the risk one’s anxiety.

Even though stress and anxiety are different, they can both be very dangerous to someone’s life so if you or anyone else struggle with high levels of stress or anxiety then talking to someone about how you feel could make a huge difference in you or someone else’s life.

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