Fear & Anxiety: Differences

Most researchers in the field agree that there are differences between fear and anxiety. Here are some of the key ones.

Fear:

  • Generally seen as a response to danger here and now.
  • E.g. the dog is right in front of me, I’m scared.
  • Orientation: Here and now
  • Higher sympathetic arousal, higher level of fight or flight.

Anxiety:

  • Generally seen as a response to a predicted/anticipated threat.
  • E.g. no actual dog here, but at the corner there might be a dog.
  • Future-focused
  • The degree of sympathetic arousal is lower

Of course nobody likes feeling fear or anxiety, we all don’t want to have them. However, both fear and anxiety are not dangerous. They are completely normal and everyone experiences them.

Think about this: Are there times in your life where fear and/or anxiety have been useful/helpful in some ways? Where fear and/or anxiety saved you? Protected you? Motivated you?

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