Managing anxiety

What Is The Difference Between Anxiety And Anxiousness?

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: March 5, 2019
What Is The Difference Between Anxiety And Anxiousness?

People frequently use the words anxiety and anxiousness interchangeably. Although both have similar meanings, they have certain differences too. Both terms refer to a general meaning of disquiet and concern, but their common usage has different implications. This difference relates to our mental and emotional state of being and has to do with the difference between having ‘anxiety’ and being ‘anxious’. Read this oneHOWTO article to find out what is the difference between anxiety and anxiousness? In doing so you might be able to tell if you are having a stressful day or if there is a greater underlying concern making you feel the way you feel.

You may also be interested in: Does Anxiety Cause Phantom Smells?
  1. Meaning of the word ‘anxiety’
  2. Difference between having anxiety and being anxious
  3. Why it is important to differentiate between having anxiety and being anxious
  4. Grammatical differences between anxiety and anxiousness

Meaning of the word ‘anxiety’

The word ‘anxiety’ comes from ‘ango’, a Latin word. It literally means ‘torment, distress, vex or trouble’. The word ‘anxiety’ means mental uneasiness or distress caused due to a fear of misfortune or danger. Sometimes, it may also be used to represent eagerness or an intense desire. For instance, anxiety is the feeling you have when you are about to enter an examination hall or while waiting for your turn for a job interview. Synonyms of the word could be nervousness, stress, suspense, concern, worry, fearfulness etc.. It is the opposite of a state of calm, serenity or peacefulness. It is one of the reasons many people try to meditate, to get them into the opposite of a state of anxiety.

While different people may have different feelings while having anxiety, it is often characterized by symptoms of nervousness, tension, restlessness, fear, rapid heart rate, perfuse sweating, heavy breathing, trembling, muscle twitching, etc. Some people with anxiety may also experience difficulty in concentration and focus. They just can’t take their mind off the thing they are worried about. Digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation and gas also commonly occur while a person is having anxiety. In severe cases it can be linked to irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), showing how anxiety can cause physical problems.

Difference between having anxiety and being anxious

The real difference between having anxiety and being anxious is that the latter is something everyone will experience. We become anxious because there is something at stake. If it is a date with someone we really like, our favorite sports team are playing a championship game or we are on an important job interview, then we will understandably feel anxious.

The reason is linked to our ancestors and our fear response. If we are in the woods and a bear comes upon us, we will feel anxious. We want to survive and this response pumps adrenaline through us and puts us in a heightened state of awareness so that we have a better chance of survival. The difference is that today, unless you are a hiker or park ranger, our fears don't lie so much in large predators. Instead we fear losing money, not being able to progress in society or general concerns about the rat race.

It is not incorrect to say you are in a state of anxiety if it is indeed the case. However, if you say in general terms you have anxiety, then you need to be careful. This is because the latter relates to having an anxiety disorder. These are a range of conditions whereby your anxiousness is not a response to immediate stimuli. It is an underlying condition whereby the everyday aspects of your existence are met with an unreasonable level of anxiety. The cause of this anxiety is usually from a combination of the following:

  • Panic disorder whereby someone feels intense fear or a feeling of dread leading to a state of panic. It could manifest itself in panic attacks which can feel like your body is shutting down, but is actually a cognitive issue.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is a feeling of anxiety caused by a traumatic event. This trauma could be a range of events from child abuse to being assaulted in a robbery.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is when you obsess about something or somethings in your everyday life. The person is aware that their responses to something repeatedly turning a light on and off or rearranging the pencils on their desk are unreasonable, but they struggle to control them. This leads to obsessing over situations to the point anxiety sets in.
  • Phobias are when someone is put into a state of fear or anxiety about something which is irrational. You can have a reasonable fear about deadly spiders, but if every time you see a house spider you become intensely anxious, then it is likely a phobia. You can also become phobic of things which pose not real threat at all such as arachibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth).
  • Generalized anxiety disorder is when your state of anxiety is prolonged without any specific stressors being present. It can lead to distraction, fearful states and even panic attacks when it becomes too much.
What Is The Difference Between Anxiety And Anxiousness? - Difference between having anxiety and being anxious

Why it is important to differentiate between having anxiety and being anxious

The important difference between having an anxiety disorder and being anxious is a medical one. If you feel anxious due to certain situations, then it is simply a natural human response to circumstance. Without it, we may not act in the right way to stop us from coming to harm.

If you have an anxiety disorder it can damage your health considerably. It is linked to both depression and substance abuse, the problem often being that anxiety disorders often have a range of comorbidities. This makes them difficult to treat. Treatment is usually psychological therapy, anti-anxiety medication or a combination of both. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to social problems, difficulty in relationships, exacerbated depression and even suicidal tendencies when the anxiety becomes too much. According to one report the “structure of anxiety” is a “sense of total incompetence or uncontrollability”[1].

This feeling of losing control has been corroborated by more recent research. This research claims that the loss of control is not just over a person's thoughts, but their behavior also[2]. Anxiety disorder and its related conditions can lead to the essential destruction of one's life if it becomes out of control. Fortunately, the researchers behind the article also see it as being treatable[3]. Many people aren't always aware they even have anxiety, one of the worst aspects of the condition. Realizing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder is the start of being able to treat it.

If you think you may have an anxiety disorder speak to your doctor or a seek advice from a mental health professional. They will be able to recognize the symptoms and help you to get them under control.

If you want to know more about how anxiety can affect someone physically, you may be interested in our article on does anxiety cause phantom smells?

Grammatical differences between anxiety and anxiousness

Of course, you may also be wondering what the difference is between anxiety and anxiousness in terms of grammar and how you can use them in written work.

The word ‘anxiety’ can be used in different sentences in different forms and references. You will have a clearer idea by going through these example sentences:

Use of ‘anxiety’ with an adjective:

  • ‘I had great anxiety for joining my new college’. In this sentence, the word ‘great’ is used as a synonym for ‘considerable’
  • ‘We had growing anxiety about moving to our new house’. In this sentence, the word ‘growing’ is used in context of ‘increasing’

Use of ‘anxiety’ with a verb:

  • ‘I always feel anxiety while going on a vacation’. In this example, the word ‘feel’ is used in place of ‘experience’
  • ‘Her mother tried to ease anxiety with meditation’. In this sentence, the word ‘ease’ is used as a synonym for ‘relieve’, ‘reduce’, ‘soothe’, ‘lessen’ etc.

‘The candidate’s eyes showed anxiety he was having during the interview’. In this example, the word ‘showed’ is used in place of ‘revealed’, ‘displayed’, ‘reflected’ etc.

Use of ‘anxiety’ with a preposition:

‘We felt anxiety about our new teacher’. In this sentence, the word ‘about’ may be replaced with ‘over’, ‘toward’ or other such prepositions.

Use of the word ‘anxiousness’ in sentences:

The word ‘anxiousness’ is almost always used as a noun. Here are a few example sentences:

  • As he saw his daughter’s anxiousness for the upcoming journey, he frowned.
  • The idea of getting hurt added to her anxiousness and she decided to cancel the trip altogether.
  • The girls sprang forward with anxiousness to see the celebrity in action.
  • If you show so much anxiousness, you will upset her more.
  • We could detect anxiousness in his voice.

Most of the times, anxiousness is used as a synonym for eagerness. But in instances, it is also used to describe uneasiness, worry, such as ‘having anxiousness before an upcoming surgery’.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Is The Difference Between Anxiety And Anxiousness?, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.

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