Signs of High Functioning Anxiety

It is common for people to experience anxiety at some point in their lives. However, when anxiety becomes a persistent and overwhelming feeling that affects daily life, it can be a sign of high functioning anxiety. High functioning anxiety is a type of anxiety that often goes unnoticed as individuals can cope with it well, and it does not come across as a problem. In this article, we will explore the signs of high functioning anxiety and its impact on people’s lives.

What is High Functioning Anxiety?

High functioning anxiety is a subtype of anxiety, also known as high achieving anxiety or functional anxiety. It can be challenging to identify, as people with high functioning anxiety can maintain their responsibilities, succeed in their career, and maintain their social relationships, often without any visible indications of distress. However, it can still have a profound impact on their overall emotional and mental well-being.

People with high functioning anxiety tend to handle their stress by staying busy, frequently over-preparing for tasks or seeking perfection, and avoiding any situation that may trigger their anxiety. They often present themselves as calm, collected, and put-together, but deep down, they may be worried and anxious. Having high functioning anxiety can create a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and stress, leading to burnout and other mental health problems.

Warning Signs of High Functioning Anxiety

High functioning anxiety can manifest in several ways, and the signs can differ among individuals. However, here are some common symptoms that can indicate a person may have high functioning anxiety:

Constant Overthinking

People with high functioning anxiety are prone to rumination and often find themselves overthinking, dwelling on past mistakes, and worrying about the future. They can spend an excessive amount of time analyzing every detail of a situation, even trivial matters, leading to a sense of exhaustion.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a common sign of high functioning anxiety, and people with this subtype of anxiety can have unrealistic expectations of themselves. They tend to set high standards and are unforgiving when they fall short. This can lead to immense pressure and a fear of failure.

People-Pleasing Behavior

Seeking validation and approval from others can be a sign of high functioning anxiety. People with this subtype of anxiety may have trouble saying no, feel guilty when they do not meet other people’s expectations, and avoid conflict at all costs. This can lead to difficulties in setting boundaries and asserting oneself.

Physical Symptoms

High functioning anxiety can manifest with physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, and muscle tension. These symptoms can be disruptive and result in more significant health problems if not addressed promptly.

Social Withdrawal

Even though people with high functioning anxiety can be successful, they may avoid social interactions that trigger their anxiety. This can lead to social isolation and loneliness, making it challenging to build and maintain relationships.

Impact of High Functioning Anxiety

High functioning anxiety can significantly impact an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and if left unaddressed, it can lead to more severe symptoms and disorders such as depression and burnout. People with high functioning anxiety may be at higher risk for developing substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide attempts.

Moreover, high functioning anxiety can affect people’s professional and personal lives. Perfectionism can lead to workaholic tendencies, a fear of failure, and self-doubt. This can impact job performance, career advancement opportunities, and work-life balance. Similarly, people-pleasing behavior can lead to resentment, lack of productivity, and difficulties in setting boundaries, which can harm personal relationships.

Managing High Functioning Anxiety

It may be challenging to recognize and manage high functioning anxiety, and it can take time, patience, and effort. However, seeking professional help is a crucial step towards developing coping strategies and gaining a better understanding of one’s anxiety.

Below are some effective ways of managing high functioning anxiety:

Seeking Therapy

Therapy can be an excellent tool for managing high functioning anxiety. A therapist can provide guidance, teach coping skills, and work with the individual to identify the underlying causes of their anxiety.

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help individuals with high functioning anxiety stay centered and calm. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can reduce anxiety symptoms and promote overall well-being.

Creating Boundaries

Learning to set boundaries can help individuals with high functioning anxiety avoid burnout by reducing stress and allowing time for rest and recovery. This can include learning to say no more often, reducing workload, and prioritizing self-care.

Challenging Negative Thoughts

High functioning anxiety can be fueled by negative self-talk and unrealistic expectations. Learning to challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations can help reduce anxiety symptoms and promote a healthy mindset.

Engaging in Physical Activity

Exercise can be an excellent way to manage high functioning anxiety as it produces endorphins, reduces stress hormones, and promotes a sense of well-being. Engaging in physical activity regularly can also improve physical health.

Final Thoughts

High functioning anxiety is a subtype of anxiety that can significantly impact an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. While the signs of high functioning anxiety may be challenging to recognize, seeking professional help and implementing coping strategies can make a significant difference. With effort, patience, and support, individuals with high functioning anxiety can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Signs of High Functioning Anxiety

What is high functioning anxiety?

High functioning anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder where an individual appears to be functioning well on the surface, but internally, they are experiencing intense anxiety about their life and work. These individuals often push themselves to the limits to keep up with their responsibilities, but their anxiety can take a toll on their mental and physical health.

What are some signs of high functioning anxiety?

Common signs of high functioning anxiety can include perfectionism, difficulty relaxing, overthinking, excessive worrying, people pleasing, and self-criticism. These individuals often feel like they need to be in control of every aspect of their life and may struggle with letting go of control.

How can high functioning anxiety be treated?

Treatment for high functioning anxiety can involve therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy used to treat anxiety disorders, which can help individuals identify and replace negative thought patterns with more positive ones. It is also important for these individuals to practice self-care and mindfulness techniques to manage their symptoms.


References

1. Albiero, P., Piccolotto, E., Tasso, A., & Gabbiadini, A. (2020). Measuring anxiety in adolescence: Psychometric properties of the Self-Report for Childhood Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED). Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1198. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01198

2. Barlow, D. H. (2000). Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic (2nd ed.). Guilford Press. https://www.guilford.com/books/Anxiety-and-Its-Disorders/David-Barlow/9781572304572

3. Stavrakaki, C. (2005). Anxiety disorders. In M. Hersen & S. M. Turner (Eds.), Adult psychopathology and diagnosis (4th ed., pp. 203–239). Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118625392.ch5