Difference Between Anxiety and Nervousness (With Table)

Anxiety and nervousness affect many people across the world. Both the terms are related to the mental health of a person. In general conversations, they are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. Even though there are many overlapping symptoms, anxiety and nervousness can be differentiated by the duration for which they are experienced.

Anxiety vs Nervousness

The difference between anxiety and nervousness is that anxiety is a persistent feeling that may flare up in response to stressful situations but is present all the time. On the other hand, nervousness is more of a short-term feeling caused by specific stressful situations. It comes to an end when the situation passes.

Anxiety is an illness that is associated with feelings such as worrying, fear and restlessness. People who have anxiety often overreact in response to a situation, which sometimes is only an anticipated event. It causes symptoms such as fatigue, tension in the muscles, breathlessness, and concentration problems. Certain situations may cause it to intensify, but it is a constant experience even in day-to-day life.

Meanwhile, nervousness is only a short-term response to certain intensified and stressful situations. As the situation comes to an end, the feeling gradually fades away. However, it can be a very intense experience that often requires support. People who are nervous can be easily agitated or alarmed. They exhibit edgy behaviour and are often excitable and hypersensitive.

Comparison Table Between Anxiety and Nervousness

Parameters of ComparisonAnxietyNervousness
DurationAnxiety is a persistent experience that may flare up in response to certain situations.Nervousness is a short-term feeling in response to specific situations.
FeelingsIt is associated with feelings such as excessive worrying, fear, and restlessness.It is associated with feelings such as fear, excitability, and tension.
SymptomsIt causes symptoms including fatigue, tension in the muscles, breathlessness, and concentration problems.It causes a person to be easily agitated or alarmed and brings about edgy behaviour and hypersensitivity.
EffectsIt interferes with a person’s ability to function.It causes doubt but a person is generally able to function even when nervous.
ControlIt requires professional help.It is generally controllable and can be managed by talking to trusted people.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a persistent feeling of worrying, fear, and restlessness that numerous people experience. It is an illness that may flare up in certain stressful situations. Most people even get this feeling when anticipating what may happen in the future. In going so, they create an inner turmoil that often manifests itself physically.

People may experience symptoms such as fatigue, tension in the muscles, breathlessness, and concentration problems when they are anxious. This even gets in the way of day-to-day functioning. The feeling is so overwhelming that it gets hard to carry out normal activities while experiencing it. When anxious, a person may even exhibit nervous behaviour which includes rumination, complaining and pacing around excitedly.

Most of the time, it is considered to be a normal human response to specific situations. However, when intensified, it can lead to being diagnosed as a disorder. Many factors such as genetics, substance abuse, medical conditions, social situations, and even psychological conditions may cause this experience.

It is difficult to control and manage anxiety. Therefore, getting professional medical help and treatments is always advisable. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most common path for this. Moreover, certain preventive precautions must also be taken. These include undergoing educational and psychological interventions.

What is Nervousness?

Unlike anxiety, nervousness is only a short-term feeling that comes into play on experiencing certain stressful situations. However, it is still an intense feeling to have and may affect a person in many negative ways. Nervousness is associated with the feeling of tension and agitation. It causes hypersensitivity and people experiencing it ay easily get agitated or alarmed.

Since the feeling does not last for a very long time, it is relatively easier for people to function despite having it. Moreover, as compared to anxiety, nervousness has much lesser intensity. It is often associated with the feeling of doubt or insecurity.

People may experience behavioural changes when nervous. This includes having edgy behaviour and excitability. However, this does not lead to disorders or adverse situations that are worse. The feelings come to an end as soon as the situation causing it passes away.

Regardless, it is always better to reach out to someone in such a situation. This may help the person be sure that it is just a nervous feeling and not something more serious than it. Talking to friends, family and trusted people is often a good option. However, if the feeling persists, medical intervention is advisable.

Main Differences Between Anxiety and Nervousness

  1. Anxiety is a persistent experience that may flare up in response to certain situations whereas nervousness is a short-term feeling in response to specific situations.
  2. Anxiety is associated with feelings such as excessive worrying, fear, and restlessness whereas nervousness is associated with feelings such as fear, excitability, and tension.
  3. Anxiety causes symptoms including fatigue, tension in the muscles, breathlessness, and concentration problems whereas nervousness causes a person to be easily agitated or alarmed and brings about edgy behaviour and hypersensitivity.
  4. Anxiety interferes with a person’s ability to function whereas nervousness causes doubt, but a person is generally able to function even when nervous.
  5. Anxiety requires professional help whereas nervousness is generally controllable and can be managed by talking to trusted people.

Conclusion

Anxiety and nervousness are feeling that millions of people across the world go through. They are often confused to be the same thing as the symptoms are quite similar to each other. However, the feelings have many differences between them. Firstly, anxiety is constant and persistent whereas nervousness is only short-term.

While anxiety is a far more complicated illness, nervousness is relatively simpler and only lasts for as long as the stressful situation causing it persists. A way to diagnose each of them is by observing the symptoms that are caused. People with anxiety disorders exhibit a lot of physical symptoms whereas people who experience nervousness generally show emotional and behavioural changes.

References

  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/t06496-000
  2. https://connect.springerpub.com/content/sgrjpe/28/4/218.abstract
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