The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety

Alex Korb writes about the difference between fear and anxiety in his book, The Upward Spiral.

Fear is a response to actual danger. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a response to potential danger.

To put it another way: fear comes from seeing a lion jump out of the grass and start chasing you. Anxiety comes from seeing the grass rustle and assuming that a lion is hiding there.

As Korb says, “depression can feel like a downward spiral, pulling you into a vortex of sadness, fatigue, and apathy.

It may sound easy to tell them apart. But in the moment, it can actually be quite difficult. They both activate the same stress response in our brains and bodies, which means they often feel the same. It may sound nuanced, but by learning to tell the difference between them, we can respond to each of them more effectively.


Eric McClerren, LAPC