Stress vs. Anxiety

When the body reacts to stress without a stressor, it may be anxiety.
3 Minutes
 • 
Updated
Published
April 22, 2021

When your child is stressed about something, they may feel certain emotions or show specific behaviors. For instance, they may be worried because they are late for school or nervous about an upcoming test. They may feel scared about new experiences, like being away from their parents for the first time. These reactions to stress are common, part of everyday life, and an important part of growing up.

If there is no stressor or trigger to upset or worry a child out, this is different from stress. When the body reacts to stress without a stressor, it may be anxiety.

The difference between stress and anxiety
According to the American Psychological Association, "people under stress experience mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping. Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined by persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor."

There are many kinds of anxiety children can experience. The way each child expresses their anxiety will vary from child to child. Some common types of anxiety and associated behaviors include:

General Anxiety
  • Constant worry about everyday things like family, school, and friends
  • Unable to control feelings of nervousness or fear, including fear of embarrassment or making a mistake
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains
  • Feeling on edge
  • Repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)
  • Low self-esteem or lack of confidence
Separation Anxiety
  • Intense fear about the safety of their family
  • Afraid to go to school or sleep away from home
  • Stomachaches, headaches, or physical complaints during separation
  • Clingy behavior
  • Crying or panic during separation
  • Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
Social Anxiety
  • Afraid to meet new people
  • Avoiding social situations or talking to others
  • Difficulty making friends
Phobias
  • Extreme fear about a specific thing or situation (ex. dogs, spiders, or needles)
  • The fear causes distress and impacts everyday activities

If your child experiences anxiety that doesn’t seem to go away or it begins to impact their daily life, it can negatively affect their long-term health. Untreated anxiety can cause physical issues, like digestive or cardiovascular problems, or they may be at a higher risk for developing anxiety disorders or depression.

Fortunately, many health professionals can treat children with severe anxiety and get them the support they need. They may suggest treating anxiety with therapy, medication, or both. Each treatment plan will depend on your child’s needs.

If you think your child has anxiety, talk with their doctor. You can start by discussing your child’s behavior and sharing information about their health history, so your doctor can make sure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing their symptoms. If Hazel is available in your school, you can schedule a visit with one of our doctors as well.

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About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel’s diverse, culturally competent providers specialize in the health challenges of children and teens and partner with parents and school staff to make the best care decisions for students. Hazel is committed to improving health care equity and is available regardless of family income, geography, insurance status, or ability to pay. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care, because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at hazel.co.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel's diverse, culturally competent providers work with parents and school staff to transform children's access to health care, because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at hazel.co.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel serves nearly 2 million students across 100 school districts, helping to reduce chronic absenteeism and unfinished learning by addressing gaps in health care access. As an extension of the school health team, Hazel helps schools immediately address student physical and mental health care needs. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at Hazel.co/hazel-in-schools.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel helps school districts address chronic absenteeism, unfinished learning, and school enrollment, by addressing gaps in health care access.

Learn more at Hazel.co/hazel-in-schools.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts and families to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Instead of waiting for an appointment with a doctor or therapist, children can see a Hazel provider for a telehealth visit, at no cost to families. With guardian permission, Hazel’s telehealth platform allows children to connect with a health care provider within minutes, or a therapist within days of referral. Hazel’s providers can help with everything from allergies and stomach aches to anxiety and depression. With Hazel, children can get the care they need when they need it.

Learn more at Hazel.co/how-hazel-works.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts and families to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. At no cost, and regardless of insurance status, Hazel’s providers can help with everything from allergies and stomach aches to anxiety and depression. With Hazel, children can get the care they need when they need it.

Learn more at Hazel.co/how-hazel-works.

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