Difference between Worry and Anxiety

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Feeling worried or anxious? Differentiating the two may seem to be of unimportance, but simply knowing can actually help you deal with emotional experiences better.


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Worry vs Anxiety
A girl expressing worry through lip-biting

Generally, it refers to a person’s thoughts and emotions when they are of a negative nature and one mentally attempts to avoid anticipated threats. It can also mean concern about a real or imagined issue like health, finances, or even a broader, technological change. Worrying is often short-lived and sometimes can even provide positive effects. It arises from various decisions that a person has to make in life, and also choices that come with them. Because choices and decisions may result in failure, it then causes a person to worry.


A nervous habit caused by anxiety. (Nail-biting)

Anxiety is an emotion in which a person experiences an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, usually accompanied by nervous behavior. In some cases, it is considered a mental disorder. It is an unpleasant feeling of dread about anticipated events. It is a combination of fear, worry and uneasiness. Anxiety often is accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and even problems with concentration. Anxiety doesn’t necessarily signify a mental disorder; it could simply mean that you’re anxious for a short period of time. Take note however, when experienced regularly, the person might be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Comparison Chart

Worry Anxiety
Does not interfere with your job or social life May interfere with your job or social life
Controllable Can sometimes be out of control
Mild distress Distressing
Caused by a specific reason May be caused for no apparent reason
Causes minimal physical symptoms (lip biting) May cause a handful of physical symptoms (trembling, sweating, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, headaches, muscle tension)

Worry vs Anxiety

So what’s the real difference between worry and anxiety? While both worry and anxiety can somewhat be associated with each other, they do differ in many ways. Anxiety, aside from being a potential mental disorder, also serves as your internal alarm. It influences your system to be on guard wherein it gives you a sudden boost of adrenaline to help you face your problems. It can also be regarded as a necessity for survival, just because it motivates an individual to take necessary measures to prevent anxiety from intensifying. Worry, on the other hand, is simply a negative mental imagination of what may come or happen, that usually results with nothing to worry about. Another notable difference between the two is how a person reacts to them. While worry has some positive motivating effect towards solving the problem, anxiety is rather unproductive condition.

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In a way, we can say that worry is a cause of anxiety, and at the same time an experience of anxiety. Depending on how frequently you are experiencing both emotional experiences, it also may not be your average worry or anxiety. An excessive worry or anxiety could potentially be a generalized anxiety disorder (GAP), a mental disorder that’s characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and irrational worry. In this case, one may have the need to seek treatment.


Here, you can watch a video on overcoming worry and anxiety:

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