What other emotions and/or terms are closely related to stress?
Fears are when you feel scared in specific situations. Some are
fears of real dangers; a fear of speeding or fighting or driving while
drunk is healthy. Other fears, also called phobias, are not realistic;
phobias of heights, flying, bugs, enclosed places, open spaces, or of
speaking to groups are all over-reactions to the actual risks involved.
Panic reactions are sudden, overwhelming fear reactions, often without
an obvious external cause, usually involving rapid breathing, heart
palpitations, fear of dying, and a frantic attempt to get to safety.
Anxiety is an unpleasant tension state, something like fear, in
certain circumstances but not associated with a specific
stimulus, perhaps not with an external event at all. One might be
generally anxious at work, meeting people, taking a class, or in many
other situations; yet, no specific aspect of those situations is the
identifiable source of the fear.
Because stress, fears, and anxiety are so unpleasant, you might be
tempted to seek total relaxation in undemanding situations. Actually,
the leisurely, effortless life style is not possible or even desirable for
most of us. As I have already made clear, if you seek to do your best,
to do new things, to stretch your capabilities, you will be challenged
and stressed. Many of us are good students, good workers, or good
religious folks partly because we are scared not to be. Many
outstanding athletes, students, managers, scholars, professionals, and
others obtain part of their drive by overcompensating for feelings of
As we have mentioned, the forewarnings of trouble help us cope
and achieve. Thus, tension must, in many ways, be valued and
welcomed. Psychologists don't yet know which achievements could
have been accomplished without stress (demands from the
environment and upon oneself), perhaps almost none. Thus, it seems
likely that the better adjusted among us are constantly both reducing
some of their unneeded anxieties and increasing other beneficial
anxieties. It is a skillful, cogent person who can orchestrate his/her life
into a pleasant and productive symphony of high and low stresses.
Thus far, psychology has focused mostly on lowering high anxiety for
good reason: it is a serious and fairly common problem.
The diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic,
debilitating condition consisting of excessive worry, disruptive anxiety,
and distressful tension that has lasted for at least 6 months and
maybe for years. It is the second most common psychiatric disorder
(after depression); about 5% of the world's population suffers this
disorder. Even in developed countries, however, less than 20% of
sufferers get proper treatment. It is treatable, but many MDs have
trouble diagnosing it and are uncertain how to treat it. GAD frequently
results in sleeplessness, irritability, poor concentration, and fearful
hyper-vigilance. There may be a variety of other symptoms including
fatigue, muscle tension, sweating, heart palpitations, stomach trouble,
diarrhea and others.