“What’s the difference between anxiety and worry?”

That was the question posed to me the other day. It’s such a great question, and honestly, I don’t know if anyone has ever asked me that question before, which is sort of surprising in light of all the talk on worry and anxiety these days.

Just go to Amazon and type in worry or anxiety and see where that gets you. These searches are under Christian living which is the particular lens through which I wrote my book The Anxious Christian.

Dr. Paula Bloom from This Emotional Life writes this about Worry vs. Anxiety:

“Worry is the mind’s way of having the illusion of control. It is like the mind says “Well, I can’t do anything in this situation, let me worry about it so at least I can feel like I am doing something.” We think worrying somehow keeps something on our mind so we can solve the problem. Well, guess what? Worrying drains you to the point where you have less emotional, mental or physical resources to actually generate solutions. Obsessing about the flu won’t keep you from getting it, but washing your hands just might. A little bit of stress can lead to optimal performance, while too much is damaging.”

“People with anxiety disorders can have a more difficult time with decisions. They can’t seem to stop the tornado in their head, despite wishing they could. It can affect their sleep, appetite, job performance and relationships. In an attempt to medicate these feelings, anxiety can ultimately lead to compulsive behaviors such as drinking, overeating, overspending, hoarding and drug use, which then create their own set of problems.”

And over at PsychCentral, Therese J. Borchard writes about The Differences Between Normal Worry and General Anxiety Disorder.

As I thought about that question it can get pretty complex pretty quickly. We have to make sure we are clear on what the words mean, their differences, their similarities — how they are translated in the bible or other literature. Context is obviously super important.

But here’s how I answered the question, “What’s the difference between anxiety and worry?”