Anxiety disorders are disorders where a person feels anxious in a pervasive, strong, or unnecessary kind of way. Typically this impairs a person’s life in some way through the increased anxiety or stress they might feel.
Stress disorders are a type of anxiety disorder caused by something specific within a person's environment. Other anxiety disorders have no real apparent cause or are caused by something that isn’t rational.
EXAMPLEA generalized anxiety disorder is a general feeling of anxiety that a person has with no actual cause within the environment, and a phobia is an irrational fear of something that isn't a problem or a real danger.
Stress disorders have a recognizable stressor, either an event or object within the environment, that threatens a person and causes some degree of stress or anxiety to them. Often, these stressors can be significant events and major changes within a person's life; stressors can even be other people in a person’s life.
The following are two types of stress:
Stressors such as these can lead to stress disorders. Symptoms that can disrupt a person's life may include insomnia or nightmares, jumpiness and irritability, and poor concentration. A person might have a short temper, they may practice avoidance or they may emotionally withdraw from others. A person who has experienced traumatic stress may have flashbacks in which they relive the traumatic events, like it is happening to them in real time.
EXAMPLETo a child, a school bully might be an undue stressor in their life.
There are two different types of stress disorders. The only difference between these two is the amount of time that the person displays the symptoms.
PTSD is very common for soldiers that are returning from the military duty, and the majority of PTSD cases come from this source. The terrible sights and sounds of war, as well as the constant stress of being in danger or of being attacked can lead to stress disorders. In addition, stress disorders can lead to the development of unhealthy coping strategies.
EXAMPLEPeople that have acute stress disorder or PTSD might develop problems with drugs or alcohol, or resort to self harm as a way coping with the stress and anxiety.
Therapies like psychodynamic therapy treat stress disorders and can help a person to recognize unhealthy coping strategies and develop alternative healthy ones.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Erick Taggart.