Anxiety is a physiological state that?s caused by the
sympathetic nervous system (SNS). SNS is always active
at the base level (called sympathetic tone) and
becomes more active in stressful situations. The
"flight or fight" response occurs from here. Anxiety
doesn?t need an outside influence to occur. Anxiety is
often based on irrational or illogical fears.
Panic is related to the "fight or flight" mechanism.
It?s a reaction brought on by outside stimulus and is
a product of the sympathetic nervous system. Panic in
general is a sudden fear that can dominate or replace
our thinking. Panic usually occurs in a situation that
is perceived to be health or life threatening. Panic
is an anxiety state we?re thinking about.
Stress is a psychosocial reaction. It?s influenced by
the way a person filters nonthreatening external
events. The filtering is based on the person?s
assumptions, ideas and expectations. These
assumptions, ideas and expectations can be referred to
as social constructionism.
Panic and stress both play important roles in the
natural survival instinct. The preparations for fight
or flight are the body?s defense mechanisms. Preparing
for which ever course of action is decided upon to
preserve life, health or whatever is in danger.
Anxiety doesn?t always stem from an actual need for
fear or defensive action. Escaping situations that
make us anxious may bring relief, but these feelings
are intensified when we face similar situations. This
encourages us to escape the situation again instead of
working through the anxiety.