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Points of Difference Between State and Trait Anxiety Revealed

Points of Difference Between State and Trait Anxiety
While different anxiety disorders indicate an emotional state similar to fear, accompanied by feelings of nervousness, their symptoms and treatment are distinctly varied, which is why the state anxiety vs. trait anxiety analysis given here serves to elaborate on their differences.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2018
Did You Know?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults (both young and older adults), or 18% of the U.S. population, in a given year. Women are 60% more likely than men to experience such disorders over their lifetime.
It is perfectly natural to worry about the things or situations that cause you discomfort. At times, you may find yourself filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. It is quite normal, as anxiety itself is a normal human emotion. Anxiety refers to an unpleasant state of mental uneasiness or concern that causes physical and psychological discomfort. Extreme anxiety disrupts and unsettles behavior by lowering the individual's concentration and affecting their muscular control.
If a person is not able to lead a normal life because of the unreasonable anxiety that he is experiencing most of the time, then he needs to consult his doctor. Persistent fear and worry can seriously ruin the life of the person. The disorder is considered as a serious mental illness, and proper treatment can help reduce the symptoms.
Different Types
There exist several types of anxiety disorders, for example, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), separation anxiety disorder (SepAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Apart from these, state and trait anxiety are the two major types of this mental illness.
Differences Explained
State Anxiety Trait Anxiety
Basic Difference
It indicates a state of intense emotions that are developed as a response to an excessive, irrational fear of a particular situation. Thus, it is usually the over-anxiousness about an event or situation. It indicates that the person is always under stress and that excessive worrying is the characteristic trait of his personality.
General Signs and Symptoms
Excessive sweating, pain in stomach and/or chest, digestive problems, increased or irregular heartbeats, trembling, numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet, dry mouth, cold or sweaty hands and/or feet, and a feeling of choking, headache, etc., are the symptoms observed. Symptoms include getting easily stressed and anxious, insomnia (sleep disorder), persistent feeling of fear and uneasiness, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, digestive or bowel problems, frequent urination, diarrhea, sweating, fatigue, irritability, a fear of being judged by others, fear of common, everyday situations, depression, substance abuse, headache, teeth grinding, tremors and twitches, and social withdrawal.
Severity
It is relatively mild as it is caused only by some stressful events like speaking in public, appearing for a test or interview, or going on your first date, etc. It can be described as a temporary feeling. It is difficult for the person to control his emotions as he is afraid of almost every situation. His overreaction can be troublesome for others. It can be described as more overwhelming and disturbing as anxiety is experienced during unlimited situations or due to a variety of objects. The behavioral changes can seriously affect the work of the person, relationships, and several other aspects of life.
Causes
Alcohol or substance abuse can induce this disorder. Certain bad memories, trauma, etc., can trigger anxiety attack. Various genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental factors are also the contributing factors for this disorder. Hormonal imbalance, stressful lifestyle, and several other health problems like menopause, heart disease, etc., are some of the other common reasons behind this disorder. Along with the environmental, psychological, and developmental factors, genetic factors play an important role in this disorder. The disorder may run in families. Other contributing factors are hormonal imbalance, typical structure of brain parts, having chronic health issues, severe or long-lasting stress, past experiences, lifestyle, etc. Drug or alcohol abuse can worsen the disorder.
Treatment
The doctor will focus on the specific cause of stress or worry. The condition may improve with medications or psychological counseling (psychotherapy). The person is expected to make lifestyle changes and learn how to cope with a difficult situation. Exercise and diet can help maintain hormonal balance. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can also help a lot in overcoming fear. It requires a broader approach and proper psychological counseling. The doctor may prescribe antidepressants and sedatives.
Family Support
The family should encourage the person to take part in activities that he is afraid of. With the support of the loved ones, the person would be able to forget the past, divert his mind away from worries, and be ready to face any situation. The person should join an anxiety support group. He should willingly try to socialize with the help of his family. The family should see to it that he takes the prescribed medicines and sticks to the treatment plan.
Home Remedies
Certain traditional home remedies like aromatherapy, consumption of green tea or coffee, deep breathing, taking a hot water bath, which improves blood circulation, can help lower the symptoms. Herbal supplements like kava, valerian root, passionflower, chamomile tea, etc., can help regain confidence. Along with the medicines, one can always try home remedies if they don't interfere or cancel the effects of medicines. Increased intake of vitamins and minerals, following a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and smoking, taking sufficient rest, spending some time in a garden, taking a walk, etc., can help reduce the symptoms.
From Another Point of View
A very low level of anxiety can be considered as valuable, as it acts as a motivator in certain situations. In some sports like rugby, swimming, and archery, athletes with a low state anxiety may perform better. This type of anxiety is more likely to affect the performance of the athlete seriously. If an athlete finds more number of situations as threatening, he is likely to respond with a high state anxiety which can affect his performance. He or she may start in a wrong way or forget the important steps or comparatively easy shots.
Though we all experience anxiety from time to time, it's difficult to handle clinical manifestation of state or trait anxiety. Chronic worries and constant fear increase stress and deprive you of strength or efficiency. The signs and symptoms may vary from person to person as they greatly depend upon whether the person has learned to manage stress and overcome fear, and if yes, how he responds to a particular situation.
Early diagnosis helps prevent serious complications. Each case is unique and so, the treatment also varies from person to person. It is necessary to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. You cannot always avoid difficult situations, so you need to change the way you respond to them.