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What's the difference between anxiety and just being nervous?

205 Answers
Last Updated: 08/14/2018 at 1:36am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Stacey Kiger, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

My belief is that therapy is not about giving advice, but joining you on your journey

Top Rated Answers
November 17th, 2014 2:40am
Anxiety is characterized by an overreaching feeling that gets in the way of everyday life, for instance a feeling of panic about leaving your house that prevents attention at work and leaves you worrying in the break room. Nervousness is a healthy response to an uncomfortable or new situation, such as a job interview or a first date with a new person, which may be accompanied by a healthy sense of worry, such as "will he/she want a second date?" or "will the interviewer check my references?" but doesn't prevent you from preparing for the situation and performing your routine.
October 19th, 2014 3:24am
Anxiety is something that haunts you every minute of every day. Anxiety is an ongoing issue and can inhibit day-to-day function of a person. Anxiety is not "I'm nervous to see this person" or "I'm worried I'm gonna do bad on my finals" it's "I can barely leave the house to day for fear of being around too many people" or "What if I do bad on this test and then I don't get into a good college and then I have to get a minumum wage job and I end up on the streets for the rest of my life". Anxiety is also not something someone can just "get over". If you're nervous for a presentation you can usually calm yourself down or at least are okay afterwards. People with anxiety always have anxiety and it is not something to "get over" or cure and move on it is something that people deal with for the rest of their lives and learn ways to cope with.
October 23rd, 2014 6:02am
I think there are not a huge difference. When you feel anxious or nervous, it means you need someone (or something ) make you feel comfortable.
September 23rd, 2014 3:36pm
Nervousness is a natural emotional response whereas anxiety is avoidance, suffering from fear or panic, etc.
November 16th, 2014 3:38am
Anxiety is extreme nervousness outside the presence of real and immediate danger. You can be nervous before, say, a performance on stage, but if you have those same feelings on a normal day, then you might be facing anxiety. You're only suffering from an anxiety disorder if these feelings cause disruption to your daily life.
September 13th, 2014 5:48pm
Anxiety is a recurring feeling that can cause physical pain and panic attacks. It is often caused by triggering events or mentions of events. Being nervous might happen when going to meet new people, or before a test, but the feeling will pass and the person will feel better. Anxiety is often always there, a daily experience.
November 4th, 2015 7:56pm
Being nervous and suffering from anxiety have the common misconception of being the same thing, but they really are completely different. Anxiety is so much worse than being nervous. Anxiety can last longer and may affect you randomly. You may be driving and all of a sudden not be able to focus on driving. Your chest gets heavy, your heart rate increases, and you start sweating excessively. Nervousness is usually brought on by a stimulus; for example, you become nervous before a presentation and then it goes away after the presentation. Anxiety can make living your life more difficult. Thankfully, there are helpful tips for decreasing your anxiety and nervousness.
November 5th, 2014 7:17pm
Anxiety is more chronic and has a longer lasting effect on you and your work/life. Being nervous is a healthy and natural feeling before big/stressful events. Anxiety is a lurking and chronic feeling of unease that has physical, mental, emotional and cognitive effects.
November 13th, 2014 9:13pm
Hi. I have anxiety and I actually write slam poetry about it. One of things I wrote in one of my poems was, "everyone gets anxiety, but not everyone has anxiety". There are many different types of anxiety and the one I have and have more knowledge about would be generalized. With this, you would have to acknowledge that your baseline anxiety level is higher than everyone else. Other types of anxiety are more specialized. For example: In social anxiety disorder issues, you can tell its anxiety and not being nervous because it has to do with being social. Another thing would be to test if your anxiety or nervousness is logical or not because a lot of the time anxiety is not logical. I hope this helps.
November 5th, 2015 4:21am
When you are nervous, you know there is an end. You can remember being not nervous, and see you will be not nervous later. When you are anxious, you live in it. You worry and concern for all things. You care too much about too much, and it leaves you depleated. You run on vapours and your tank never gets filled up. You dont feel like anxious is any other way to be, and you sometimes cant see it either.
November 6th, 2015 5:51pm
Being nervous is a temporary state, also called fear. We experience it when we are handed a task or a job or face a sticky situation. It wears out eventually, once we have reached safe ground. Anxiety on the other hand is the result of something you dread about, e.g, possible failure, divorce or anything that might happen but isn't happening right now. The reason may be irrational and it leads to a lot of mental agony as more the necessary amount of adrenaline is pumped into the bloodstream.
October 25th, 2014 6:28pm
Being nervous is often momentanious, and can be easily calmed once you know everything is ok. Anxiety however doesnt dissappear even though everything is ok again, and doesnt let you think straight.
November 1st, 2014 8:04am
Being nervous is a normal feelings that might happen every once in a while and may not completely effect your life however, anxiety is being very anxious to the point where your heart starts racing, you start sweating, you might be out of breathe and not able to talk; Anxiety can greatly effect your life.
November 8th, 2014 9:35pm
Being nervous is normal. It's identifying a situation as potentially harmful. Anxiety is irrational. It's your entire body's response to your brain automatically assuming that you are in grave danger. It's panic.
September 28th, 2014 5:55am
Anxiety is a form of depression. Being Nervous is basically being at the start of being depressed. Being depressed is not good and there isn't no much you can do. The difference is that when you have anxiety it is harder to control and understand then being nervous because being nervous is something you could get over.
October 25th, 2014 1:33am
Anxiety is more like a weight of nervousness before and after an event. Nervousness tends to seep away after a while, but anxiety can affect people way after or way before something happens.
November 4th, 2014 1:15am
Anxiety is when you have constant worry, your worry shifts from one topic to another. A person with generalized anxiety disorder may be seen as a worrywart. They also may have some symptoms such as restlessness, being constantly on edge, fatigue, irritability, and issues with concentrating.
November 15th, 2014 9:08am
Anxiety is more a mental health concern where it impedes on a person's quality of life while being nervous is a normal response to performance related stressors we face in our daily lives.
September 27th, 2014 7:04pm
I believe that anxiety is worse and and also and also is usually related to a specific situation(s). Being nervous is just getting a bit worked up about something on a one off. This is just how I interpret it, could be wrong...
November 3rd, 2014 12:50am
Anxiety is a state of apprehension, tension, and worry. Being nervous is a mild form of anxiety; from what I've gathered. Both of these stem from the fight-or-flight response, which makes a person's body respond accordingly to the situation. However, individuals with anxiety experience the physical response more intensely and have thoughts that reflect their state of anxiety (Ex. A person sweats more than usual when encountering a social situation and thinks about what will happen if the situation goes wrong).
September 16th, 2015 6:09pm
Everyone gets nervous. It's completely natural and a normal part of human function. It can even help us to perform at our best. However, if your nervousness persists, is very intense, stops you from functioning, and applies in situations where most people would not feel nervous, this is anxiety. Anxiety can be debilitating but there are a number of techniques you can perform at home that will help, as well as therapy and medication.
October 23rd, 2015 4:28pm
Anxiety many times causes complete inability to move forward. It also causes the same thought to be processed over and over again until the worst case scenario is played out in one's head. Being nervous tends to last a shorter length of time.
October 28th, 2015 7:40pm
Nervous is being in a condition when you don't expect how your mind will behave and you have not been in such condition earlier and you easily get agitated whereas anxiety is a state where there is a constant array of worrying or unease of something with an uncertain outcome .
November 2nd, 2014 9:53pm
Nervousness is a short term response to an specific situation. Anxiety is a nervousness that doesn't go away. It i s a nervousness that becomes habitual. You find that you are nervous even though there is nothing to be nervous of, so you ask yourself "Why am I nervous right now?" And you think and think until you find something that seems worthy of what you are feeling and you attach the nerves to that thought. An exam for example, but it could be something less significant like meeting up with some friends, or even going to the shop. It depends on your level of anxiety if you only listen to your thoughts instead of the nerves than it will continue to develop until almost everything makes you anxious.
November 11th, 2014 5:03am
Being nervous is a normal reaction. Anxiety is a constant gnawing fear with your heart pounding at what feels like 200 beats per minute over something you know is trivial (like asking the girl next to you if you could borrow a pen).
November 19th, 2014 9:14pm
If it is recurring and causes a lot of distress than it maybe anxiety, but it also may not be. Anxiety happens in certain situations and nervousness is just general tension that passes after the event is over.
September 17th, 2015 6:32am
Anxiety is much more serious, you can suffer from anxiety and it can affect your social lifestyle terribly.
November 6th, 2015 5:44pm
You know the feeling you get when you have to speak in front of the class? Take that and multiply it by 10. Anxiety sticks with you no matter what activity you're doing. It comes and goes, sometimes provoked, sometimes when you're just sitting at home doing nothing.
November 11th, 2014 3:57pm
There is state anxiety, related to the moment or events in that moment, and there is trait anxiety, related to specific events that trigger the anxiety. Sometimes nervous behavior is a prelude to anxiety in general but this is really mild anxiety because the event in the current time frame is causing the nervousness. Keep in mind anxiety is a perception that is formed based on past experiences which form our beliefs about the issue related to anxiety.
May 22nd, 2015 1:02am
Anxiety is something you feel very often, this can be having panic attacks and feeling anxious a lot of the time, whereas nervous may just be for a day or maybe an hour, its a shorter length of time.