What is the Difference Between Fear and Anxiety?

Fear and anxiety can be dangerous partners but they are not always found together. Even though symptoms may overlap, a person’s experience with emotions differs based on their context. Fear relates to a threat (or perceived threat), while anxiety follows from an unknown or poorly defined threat.

Stress Response

Both fear and anxiety bring up a similar response to dangers. Muscle tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath mark this significant symptom as one that relates to danger. The ‘fight-or-flight stress response’ is necessary for survival but our bodies will feel this, even when immediate danger is not present.


Anxiety is an emotion which is diffuse, unpleasant, vague, and comes with a sense of apprehension. Quite often, it is a response to an unknown threat. The sensations are caused by anxiety related to the perceived possibility a threat may occur or something will happen which is going to impact the person in some way, perhaps causing harm. It comes from the mind’s interpretation of the possible dangers that may arise. It often comes with:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chest pain
  • Ringing in ears
  • Shaking
  • Cold chills
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Numbness or tingling


Fear is an emotional response to a known or definite threat. This fear response shows a clear, present object of fear. Although the focus of the response is different, fear and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Fear causes anxiety and anxiety may cause fear. The subtle differences give a better understanding of the symptoms and may be important for treatment.When seeking help for fear and anxiety, the feelings are often linked to phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. If fear and anxiety are not manageable, it may be time to see a doctor. It may also co-occur with addiction and substance use.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. We strive to provide a place of enrichment that cultivates the inner as well as the outer journey of recovery. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.