What Is High-Functioning Anxiety?
High-functioning anxiety is a mild type of anxiety that impacts an individual physically and mentally but does not inhibit their ability to function in daily life. High-functioning anxiety is not a clinical psychological diagnosis, but this anxiety is still very real for anyone experiencing it. With high functioning anxiety, we walk through life silently carrying the burden of anxiety while outwardly living successfully.
The symptoms of high functioning anxiety include an variety of mental, physical, and emotional effects that influence a person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Because there are so many symptoms of anxiety disorders, no two people will have the same experience.
The emotional and behavioral symptoms of high-functioning anxiety could include:
- Feelings of worry and anxiety that ruin attempts to relax, or that appear even when things seem to be going well.
- Perfectionism and feelings of constant dissatisfaction with performance
- Workaholism, or a need to keep moving or doing even when at home.
- Overthinking and overanalyzing everything, and frequent second-guessing after choices are made.
- Discomfort with emotional expression, unwillingness to discuss true feelings.
- Frequent anticipatory anxiety before a wide range of events or encounters.
- Obsession with fears of failure or of the negative judgments of others
- Superstitions-the need to repeat certain behaviors or patterns over and over to stave off disaster.
- Periodic insomnia, inconsistent sleeping habits.
- Irritability and quickness to become frustrated or discouraged in the face of setbacks.
- Difficulty saying no, no matter how time-consuming, inconvenient, or complicated the request.
- A false happy disposition: secret pessimism that conflicts with public expressions of optimism.
- A range of unconscious nervous habits (fingernail biting, hair pulling or twisting, idle scratching, lip chewing, knuckle cracking, etc.)
Symptoms of high-functioning anxiety can start to take their toll on a person’s overall mental and physical health. It could also get worse over time or lead to other behavioral health conditions like substance abuse or depression.
Coping Strategies for High-Functioning Anxiety
Some potential ways to cope with high-functioning anxiety may include:
- Exercising regular
- Developing a regular sleep routine
- Eating healthy
- Practicing mindfulness
- Limiting caffeine and substance use
- Analyzing your negative thoughts
- Getting professional treatment from a therapist.
- Foster a healthy lifestyle and work-life balance
- Practice self-care to ensure you are taking care of yourself and your basic needs.
- Regularly engage in activities that bring you joy to help avoid burnout and ease stress.
There are many healthy practices available for dissipating anxiety. Different strategies work for everyone, just as everyone’s anxiety takes different forms. Consulting a mental health professional can help you find what works best for you.
Carol Van Kampen, LMSW
Carol Van Kampen, LMSW is an individual private practice psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma treatment at Marsh Psychology Group. Carol is EMDR trained. Contact her at marshpsychologygroup.com