Difference between nervous and anxious

It is usual that this type of question arises, since it is treated in both cases (nerves and anxiety) of a process of physiological activation that tend to get confused as they cause symptoms at the cognitive, corporal and behavioral levels with certain similarities, especially in terms of physical (tachycardia, body tension, dizziness, agitation …) but also with great differences that we will see throughout this article.

What are the nervousness ?


When an event or event of a certain relevance is presented (examination, public exhibition, meeting, driving license …) our body must be activated in order to be able to face it successfully by responding to the demands that it does not suppose, this activation would be the nerves, if this did not occur we could not face these events or we would do it without success.




What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the physiological alarm response and should be given to situations of threat or some real danger, that is, truly alarming situations. The degree of activation is high to escape or fight against this real threat, it is a useful emotion in these cases (normal anxiety).

In anxiety disorders  (pathological anxiety) becomes the opposite as we are very active in everyday situations perceiving them as dangerous being completely useless and counterproductive.

Person with Anxiety


What is the difference between nerves and anxiety?

In nerves, the intensity of activation is much lower and occurs in non-dangerous daily situations causing symptoms much lighter than anxiety. These nerves have to end when the situation ends.

The anxiety response should be given to alarming situations which are extraordinary and the symptoms are logically much stronger than in the nerves. They should also end when the alarming situation ends.

If the anxiety or being nervous are prolonged over time and are not limited to the real situations that should cause them we could be faced with pathological anxiety or pathological nerves so it would be convenient to evaluate them as soon as possible with a qualified professional to assess them and if it is necessary to treat it. It is important not to delay this process, since over time it is becoming more complicated to work because it is more settled this dynamic.

  • Being nervous is punctual before a specific situation in which any person would feel nervous, that is, it is a situation in which we would all feel symptoms of nervousness, either because we were evaluated by others or implied some real danger for us.
  • Unlike being nervous, the anxious state involves ideas of catastrophizing and many negative thoughts related to health.
  • Normally appears from a particular event that is associated with the stimulus that evokes fear, that is, from a fact in which we have suffered fear, we begin to generalize that all the upcoming events related to this type of events or similar I will have the fear of developing such anxiety, which is why it is called generalized anxiety disorder.
  • It is believed that you do not have the necessary skills to deal with the previous situation.
  • Being anxious is something that can be learned by modeling from parent to child, it is easily imitable.
  • Nervousness is useful and adaptive, anxiety limits life, it is an excessive and irrational fear, the body is believed to be in a war or hostile situation when in reality it is not.
  • The person with anxiety finds it very difficult to control the constant mood of worry and tends to avoid the situations that produce this sensation, first in a timely manner, then constantly.
  • Altered anxiety is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or a medical illness

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