Key Difference – Anxiety vs Fear
Anxiety and fear are two words commonly talked about in daily life, but few understand the real difference between the two. In life, we encounter many events and circumstances that evoke varied responses in us. Some events produce good feelings inside us as when we are happy, excited and cheerful. On the other hand, there are circumstances when we exhibit responses that are not pleasant and normally unwelcome. Fear and anxiety are two such responses. Often people make use of these words interchangeably which is wrong. Through this article let us examine the difference between the two words.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness that engulfs a person for no apparent reason. A kid feels anxiety before his examination and also in days before his exam result is not declared. This is a fear of the unknown as the kid does not know what is going to happen. If a person is walking out on the street in the dark, he gets a feeling of anxiety as he is worried of something untoward happening to him that he does not know about. All the phobias are a result of this fear of the unknown. For example, some people are afraid of the dark, others have a fear of heights, and some become anxious only by the sight of scorpions and so on. Now let us move on to the word fear.
What is Fear?
If a child commits a mistake, he is fearful as he may get a scolding from his mother when she knows of his deed. Similarly, the child may have feelings of fear when he has not done his homework and is worried about the beating he may get at the hands of his teacher in school. Some people do not attempt to fix minor problems in their electricity line as they are fearful of getting a shock. These are examples from daily life to describe what fear is. It is clear that fear is a feeling that makes a person tense and worried and is aroused because of a known cause.
The symptoms aroused in our bodies because of fear and anxiety are almost similar such as twitching of muscles, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath. These are defense mechanisms of our bodies as it prepares itself for a fight or flight response. We either become prepared to fight or ready to flee in the event of a mishap, which is often imaginary.
Though the words fear and anxiety mean the same to most of us, they are completely different concepts for a psychologist as he devises his method of treatment based upon whether his patient is suffering from anxiety or fear.
What is the Difference Between Anxiety and Fear?
Definitions of Anxiety and Fear:
Anxiety: Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness that engulfs a person for no apparent reason.
Fear: Fear is a feeling that makes a person tense and worried and is aroused because of a known cause.
Characteristics of Anxiety and Fear:
Anxiety: In anxiety the reason is unknown.
Fear: In fear the reason is known.
Anxiety: Anxiety is a defense mechanism.
Fear: Fear is also a defense mechanism.
2. “Scared Child at Nighttime” by D Sharon Pruitt [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons