The Difference Between Anxiety and Stress

How to Manage Them Both

Our bodies are designed to sound the alarm when danger is near. Known as the “fight or flight” response, the human body responds to stress. This can cause an increased heart rate, shaking, and other physiological effects.


The problem is, the environment we’ve created for ourselves has a lot of artificial stressors that don’t actually require the response of a fight or a flight. As a result, we walk around carrying a lot of stress and anxiety.

While they may seem inseparable, stress and anxiety are actually two distinct health concerns. Coping with both is essential to creating a balanced body and mind.

Stress Management

In small doses, stress can be a good thing. But, when we become overburdened by stress, it can affect every area of life. Chronic stress is physically, emotionally, and behaviorally taxing and can increase the risk for a number of health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin conditions, including eczema and acne
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

The best way to deal with stress is to learn how to cope with it before it becomes a health concern. Exercise is a great way to de-stress – it relaxes muscles, enhances breathing, and releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Many people also find stress relief in being a part of something greater than themselves, whether it is a spiritual commitment or a community project.

At UNM Truman Health Services, we provide behavioral health services that can help you manage and cope with stress. Our HIV patients have access to a full range of stress management tools at our health center and in the community to promote relaxation and relief.

Why Anxiety is Different

Anxiety is a diagnosable metal illness that is generally identified by the presence of fear without immediate cause. Characterized by worrying about what could happen, people who suffer from anxiety can actually experience a physical response that is similar to the “fight or flight” reaction. This is known as an anxiety attack or a panic attack.

Anxiety can also stem from a diagnosable phobia, such as a fear of flying or snakes. People with intense phobias will often become physically uncomfortable or panic in any situation where they have to face the fear.

Anxiety is a real health concern and should be treated by a behavioral health professional. Truman has a team of licensed professionals that can diagnose and treat anxiety. Our doctors are sensitive to the unique needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and are committed to creating long-term solutions for anxiety disorders.

Stress and Anxiety Help in Albuquerque

Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. But, there are safe places to cope. At Truman, we are here to help manage your stress and anxiety with compassion and respect. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

If you are having an emotional crisis and need to speak with a trained professional right away, Agora Crisis Center is available every day to provide emotional support at 866-HELP-1-NM.