High functioning anxiety isn’t a recognized mental health diagnosis. However, it’s grown to be a catch-all term that refers to individuals who live with anxiety but identify as functioning reasonably well in general.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states, around 19% of adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder.Some people might consider themselves in the “high functioning” category, but it’s difficult to know precisely how many have this type of anxiety.
If you have high functioning anxiety, you may notice that your anxiety drives you forward rather than leave you feeling stuck and frozen in fear.On the outside, you may appear to be successful and calm—or the standard type A personality who excels at work and in life. But realistically, the way you feel on the inside may be vastly different.
This article explores what it feels like to live with high functioning anxiety, as well as a few common traits and characteristics.
What high functioning anxiety looks like
A person with high functioning anxiety might be the perfect picture of success. Maybe you arrive to work earlier than your co-workers, looking put together and neat. Co-workers may describe you as ‘driven’ because you’ve never missed a deadline or fallen short in an assigned task.
You may also say you’re always willing to help others when asked. Your social schedule may also appear busy.
What others may not always know is that beneath the surface of a perfect exterior, you’re struggling with constant anxiety.
The potential benefits of high functioning anxiety can be seen in the outcomes and successes you and other people observe. On the outside, you may come off as very successful in work and life. This may be objectively true if you choose to only evaluate yourself based on your achievements.
If these characteristics sound familiar, here’s a look at what you might experience or what others might observe if you have high functioning anxiety.
Characteristics of high functioning anxiety
You may experience the following conflicts in your day-to-day life, such as:
- People pleaser
- Nervous chatter
- Nervous habits like cracking your knuckles or playing with your hair
- Need to self often soothe ( repetitive movement such as rocking)
- Punctual, arriving early for everything
- Need for reassurance
- Avoid eye contact
- Ruminating thoughts
- Inability to say no
- Being constantly busy
- Others may perceive you as complex to read
- Limited social life
- Inability to “enjoy the moment.”
- Feeling intimidated by the future.
- The tendency to compare yourself to others
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Loyal in relationships
- Abuse alcohol or drugs as an unhealthy coping mechanism
If you have high functioning anxiety, you’ve likely become adept at presenting a false persona to the world and never show your true feelings to anyone.
There is help out there for people dealing with any form of anxiety, including high functioning forms. Call Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic today, and let their psychotherapy team gently guide you on your journey toward self-understanding and fulfillment. The clinic is now offering Telehealth to clients in Washington State, California, Texas, and Vermont!