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The terms "stress" and "anxiety" are used interchangeably in everyday conversation. This makes me want to rip my hair out.

STRESS is a response to daily pressures. It's normal--even good, at times. 

ANXIETY has no identifiable root cause. This is because it is a LEGITIMATE mental disorder. If you say you're "so anxious because of ____" you are using the word anxiety incorrectly. You're stressed. Worried, maybe. Nervous. Overwhelmed. NOT having anxiety. If it were anxiety, you wouldn't know why you're feeling what you're feeling.

STRESS typically goes away when the stressor is taken out of the picture. If it does not completely go away, it is still drastically reduced and that reduction can be attributed to the stressor no longer being an issue.

ANXIETY usually does not go away when things change. Things can be perfectly fine and anxiety can strike-- leaving one paralyzed.

STRESS causes your blood pressure to rise due to the release of adrenaline. It can cause your heart to race and pupils to dilate, preparing to take action.

ANXIETY can be debilitating. Heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, anger, depersonalization, extreme panic, clenched jaws, muscle spasms, lack of oxygen, and the strongest feeling of impending doom imaginable. Obligations because impossible. Simple tasks become increasingly difficult. Talking takes all of one's energy.

STRESS is normal, and everyone experiences it regularly.

ANXIETY is not, and only 1.5% of the US population is believed to have diagnosable anxiety.

So PLEASE. Next time you or someone else uses the word "anxiety" in place of "stress", think about what that is doing. That is belittling a serious mental illness that is not even in the same zipcode as just 'being stressed.'

I'm not saying you have to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to experience it, because so many go undiagnosed. If you experience symptoms of anxiety for at least 6 months then you should absolutely TALK to someone and consider your options. Anxiety is an awful monster, but you're stronger than it. So am I. 


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