The Difference between Being Anxious and Anxiety


Everyone will experience a ‘state’ of anxiety at some point in their lives, but at what point does anxiety became a ‘trait’? First, let’s define the difference between the two.

A state of anxiety is a temporary feeling that passes with time. You may be feeling really anxious about a difficult test coming up, going on a first date, or moving away from home for the first time. Experiencing anxiety in these situations is considered a state of anxiety, as these feelings of anxiety are temporary and rational given the anxiety-provoking situations.

A trait of anxiety is a more enduring , long-lasting characteristic of personality. Although a trait is not necessarily permanent, it is more stable and difficult to overcome. A trait of anxiety often feels like being worried all the time about either one or several things that negatively impact your ability to function.

If you or your child’s anxiety is interfering with your life satisfaction, well-being, and daily living, seeking mental health treatment can help you manage your anxiety and limit how much it impacts your life. Your therapist can help you identify how stable and enduring your anxiety is and will help you regain control of your life and improve your well being.

Siddaway, A. P., Taylor, P. J., & Wood, A. M. (2017). Reconceptualizing anxiety as a continuum that ranges from high calmness to high anxiety: The joint importance of reducing distress and increasing well-being. Journal of Personality Psychology.

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