“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Stress, Fear

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: April 3, 2019

As we mentioned last week, stress is generally caused by two factors: physical exertion and fear. There are other causes of stress, such as medical illness, adverse reaction to medication, and environment, but these aren’t as common for most people.

The stress caused from physical exertion is obvious, but stress caused from fear may not be that recognizable. 

The definition of fear is:
1. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence of imminent danger.
2. A reason for dread or apprehension. 

Fear is the perception of danger. Danger is any perceived threat that has the potential to cause you psychological, physiological, emotional, or spiritual harm.

Fear (the perception of danger) can be experienced in a variety of degrees.  For example, little to mild fear can be experienced as nervousness, concern, or apprehension. Mild to moderate fear can be experienced as agitation, anxiety, and worry.  And moderate to extreme fear can be experienced as being frightened, scared, terrified, or hysterical.

Fear ALWAYS produces an associated stress (emergency) response.  The degree of stress response is directly proportional to the degree of fear.  The greater the fear, the more dramatic the stress response.

A stress response will fire EVERY time we perceive we are in danger (experience fear). Each fear message produces an associated stress response. Even though we may not feel the effects of a stress response reaction, one still occurs. As one of our clients observed, “There aren’t any freebies.” Meaning: the body ALWAYS produces an associated stress response to each fear, and one that is directly proportional to the level of fear. We don’t escape this reaction.

Unfortunately, many people don’t see the connection between fear and stress. That’s because they assume that fear only relates to times of moderate to extreme fear as in feeling frightened, terrified, scared, or afraid. They overlook or discount that fear also encompasses the low to moderate range as well, such as worry, concern, agitation, and anxiety. Nonetheless, fear at any level produces stress responses, therefore stresses the body.

So whenever you are nervous, concerned, worried, or fretful, you are stressing your body. The degree of stress is directly proportional to the degree of fear.

For more information about the body’s stress (emergency) response and the biological and psychological changes it produces, members can visit Chapter Three in the members area.

Next time, we are going to talk about how this understanding impacts the results of a cognitive-based stress test.

Have a great week.

For more information about anxiety symptoms, see our Anxiety Symptoms section.

NOTE: The Member's area of our website contains a more comprehensive section on anxiety symptoms, including completed descriptions, why they occur, and tips on how to get rid of them.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

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