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How does anxiety relate to fear?

Stephanie Adams
Social Work
Anxiety and fear can be understood in contrast to one another. The physical and emotional experience of anxiety and fear can be very similar, so the main way to tell the difference between them is in origin. Fear is based on a realistic source of stress or danger, like an intruder in the house or a major round of layoffs at work. It can vary in intensity, just like anxiety. But anxiety is based on an unrealistic stressor. To be clear: anxiety feels very real and the sufferer is NOT making up how awful the experience is. But it is anxiety, not fear, if the thing that is feared is either very unlikely to occur or blown way out of proportion to any actual threat.
Deepak Chopra
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Chronic fear, the kind that wakes you up in the night and strikes without warning in everyday life, is termed anxiety. It is one ofthe most prevalent forms of suffering in our society, magnified after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, yet present long before. Anxiety feels like unnamed dread. It can be managed medically, though tranquilizers are not the same as a cure. It can be felt in milder degrees, making the person constantly nervous and on edge, or it can be felt acutely, when a person is flooded with terror for no apparent reason.

Fear becomes anxiety when a threat loses its immediate edge but cannot be forgotten. Anxiety is based on memory. It comes not from outside but from our inner world. Because it grows out of primitive responses to physical danger, anxiety remains linked to outer events. A woman who is told that the lump in her breast is malignant will plunge into anxiety, and until she becomes healthy again, her anxiety may continue.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.