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Is it Worry? Is it Anxiety? Is it Fear?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Worry. Anxiety. Fear. These three words are commonly used in a seemingly interchangeable manner today . What do these three little words, worry, anxiety, fear, really mean, and what is the most effective manner of dealing with them in order to reclaim our desired quality of life, the spring in our step, the smile on our face?


Let’s start with some definitions. Worry can be defined as mental distress or agitation resulting from concern, usually regarding something impending or anticipated. Worry is a term used to describe thoughts, images, emotions and actions of a negative nature in a repetitive uncontrollable manner. The goal is to avoid anticipated threats and consequences.


Anxiety is also anticipatory. There is a physiological response to a possible perceived future threat with an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear. Physical symptoms can include muscle tension, vigilance, cautious or avoidant behavior, fullness in the chest area, sweating, an increased pulse rate, nausea, and sleep disturbance. There is usually some doubt concerning the reality of the threat. There is often a lack of self confidence in the ability to dealing with it as well. Anxiety may persist over a period of time.


Fear is a healthy, rational response to either a real or perceived threat. Fear is triggered by physical or emotional danger. Flight or fight, or escape behavior, kicks in.

Of the three emotions, worry, anxiety, and fear, anxiety tends to be the most enduring. The good news is that anxiety is very responsive to psychotherapy, medication, and even hypnosis. The bottom line: don’t just endure. There are any number of ways to diminish or even release worry, anxiety, or fear. Contact your licensed professionals, check out community groups, and most importantly, make an active choice to reclaim the joy in life. It is waiting, right there, for each and every one of us.


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