What’s the Difference Between Worrying and Anxiety?

We all worry at some point; even the calmest person will have something to worry about sometimes. But for some of us, worry can easily give way to anxiety, which is a more chronic and crippling problem. So what’s the difference and how can we tell which one we’re experiencing?

Worry and anxiety can both creep into our daily lives, but unlike worry, anxiety majorly affects our daily lives. People with “regular” worry may do so for about 55 minutes a day. But people with General Anxiety Disorder worry for around 310 minutes a day—about six times more.

Worrying is often caused by:

  • Helplessness: Not having enough information and not knowing how to handle the situation
  • Overstimulation: Having too much information and not knowing how to use it
  • Conflicting information: Confusion over what is correct and what is false
  • Unpredictability: Not knowing what’s going to happen.


Image: Sadie Hernandez

On the other hand, anxiety is fear about the future—about dangers that will appear in the future. Because the fear is rooted in the future, there is no determined outcome, which increases anxious feelings. Physical changes that happen in the body when a person’s anxiety heightens include:

  • Jumpiness
  • Feeling on edge
  • Heightened sense of danger or fear
  • Muscle tension
  • A “fight or flight” response

Regular worry will go away rather quickly, but anxiety can stay in a person’s body for a long time. How it resolves itself depends on if they repress their anxious feelings or if they take action and confront them. If you feel worry for an extensive period of time or you find yourself worrying about things that are in the future that are completely out of your control, there is a high chance you have anxiety. Consult your doctor or a counsellor if this is the case.

There are lots of treatment and management options for people with anxiety—and even worry—including group counselling, private counselling or therapy, journaling, exercising, eating well, and art or music therapy. Talk to a professional for advice and find the support that fits your needs.

Feature Image: LoloStock / Shutterstock