This post contains top 7 signs of high-functioning anxiety along with helpful tips to overcome it.
What Is High-Functioning Anxiety?
High-functioning anxiety is a subtype of anxiety disorder where individuals experience significant levels of anxiety while still maintaining high levels of functionality in various areas of their lives.
Unlike some other anxiety disorders, high-functioning anxiety does not typically manifest as noticeable impairments in daily functioning or interfere with an individual’s ability to meet responsibilities and obligations.
People with high-functioning anxiety often appear confident, successful, and capable on the surface, which can make it challenging for others to recognize or understand their internal struggles.
Despite their outward appearance of competence, these individuals may experience intense worry, self-doubt, and fear that can be overwhelming and exhausting.
The key characteristic of high-functioning anxiety is the ability to hide or suppress the symptoms of anxiety, putting on a facade of normalcy while experiencing internal turmoil.
This can lead to a cycle of perfectionism, overthinking, chronic stress, and self-criticism.
It is crucial to note that high-functioning anxiety is not an official diagnosis recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
However, mental health professionals often use this term to describe individuals who exhibit anxiety symptoms while maintaining a high level of functionality.
7 Signs of High-Functioning Anxiety
Individuals with high-functioning anxiety often set unrealistically high standards for themselves.
They constantly seek validation and fear making mistakes or falling short of expectations.
This drive for perfectionism can cause excessive stress and anxiety, leading to burnout and feelings of inadequacy.
2. Overthinking and Worry
People with high-functioning anxiety tend to overanalyze situations or events, constantly worrying about possible negative outcomes.
Their minds become consumed with “what if” scenarios, making it difficult to relax or enjoy the present moment.
This persistent worry can disrupt concentration and interfere with daily functioning.
3. Difficulty Relaxing
Despite appearing calm on the outside, individuals with high-functioning anxiety often struggle to truly relax.
They may engage in constant busyness or fill their schedules to avoid confronting underlying worries and fears.
This inability to unwind can contribute to chronic stress and take a toll on physical and mental health.
4. People Pleasing
Individuals with high-functioning anxiety often have a strong desire to please others and fear disappointing those around them.
They may prioritize others’ needs and wants above their own, often neglecting their own self-care.
This chronic self-sacrifice can lead to exhaustion and further exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
5. Inner Critic
High-functioning anxiety is often accompanied by a relentless inner critic.
Individuals are highly self-critical and prone to excessive self-doubt.
They may constantly second-guess decisions, fearing failure or judgment from others.
This self-critical mindset can diminish self-esteem and amplify anxiety symptoms.
6. Physical Symptoms
Physical symptoms are common manifestations of high-functioning anxiety.
These can include tension headaches, muscle aches, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, and increased heart rate.
The mind-body connection plays a significant role in this anxiety subtype, highlighting the importance of addressing both psychological and physiological aspects.
7. Fear of Failure
A substantial fear of failure characterizes high-functioning anxiety.
Individuals may continuously strive for success and achievement as a way to avoid feelings of inadequacy or disappointment.
The fear of failure can become paralyzing, leading to avoidance behaviors and missed opportunities for personal growth.
Understanding and identifying signs of high-functioning anxiety is essential in supporting individuals who may be experiencing internal distress.
While these signs and suggestions can provide guidance, it is important to remember that only a qualified mental health professional can accurately diagnose and provide personalized treatment.
FREE Anxiety Worksheets
How to Overcome High-Functioning Anxiety?
High-functioning anxiety can be challenging to overcome, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible to manage and reduce its impact on your daily life.
1. Practice relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques can help calm both your mind and body, reducing the symptoms of high-functioning anxiety.
Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and yoga are scientifically-proven methods to promote relaxation and increase feelings of calmness.
Engage in these techniques regularly and make them part of your daily routine.
2. Set realistic expectations
High-functioning anxiety often stems from setting excessively high standards for oneself.
Strive for balance by setting realistic goals and accepting that perfection is not necessary or attainable in every aspect of life.
Challenge the belief that any performance less than perfect is a failure, and learn to celebrate progress and effort rather than solely focusing on outcomes.
3. Establish healthy boundaries
Setting and enforcing boundaries is crucial for managing high-functioning anxiety effectively.
Learn to say no when necessary and prioritize your well-being.
Overcommitting yourself can lead to overwhelming stress and anxiety.
Prioritize self-care and create space for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish, but rather an essential aspect of overall well-being.
4. Build a support network
Surrounding yourself with supportive and understanding individuals can significantly contribute to managing high-functioning anxiety.
Seek out friends, family members, or support groups who can offer a listening ear, encouragement, and reassurance during challenging times.
Sharing your experiences and feelings with others who understand what you’re going through can provide a sense of validation and help alleviate anxiety.
5. Practice self-care
Engaging in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment is key to managing high-functioning anxiety.
Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities such as hobbies, exercise, spending time in nature, or engaging in creative pursuits.
These activities promote stress reduction and enhance overall emotional well-being, helping you better cope with anxiety symptoms.
6. Challenge negative self-talk
High-functioning anxiety often involves negative self-talk and self-critical thoughts.
Become aware of these negative thoughts and actively challenge their validity.
Ask yourself if there is evidence to support them and seek alternative, more balanced perspectives.
Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations that promote self-compassion and confidence.
This shift in mindset can significantly contribute to reducing anxiety symptoms.
7. Take care of your physical health
Physical and mental health are interconnected.
Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and limiting the consumption of substances like caffeine and alcohol can have a positive impact on your mental well-being.
Regular exercise releases endorphins, which can elevate mood and reduce anxiety.
Proper nutrition and restful sleep contribute to overall well-being and help manage anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are a common mental health condition that affects individuals in various ways.
One particular subtype is high-functioning anxiety, which often goes unnoticed as individuals with this condition may excel in multiple areas of their lives while experiencing significant internal distress.
Overcoming high-functioning anxiety is a journey that requires commitment, self-reflection, and support.
With patience and perseverance, you have the power to overcome high-functioning anxiety and cultivate emotional well-being.
Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.
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