What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone has, it is a reaction to stress. It can be helpful at times like when you have a job interview, need to give a speech, have a presentation, or need to meet a tight deadline. It motivates us to prepare, study, and get things done.

High-functioning anxiety is a silent anxiety.

On the outside, you're calm, cool, and under control. However, on the inside, you are falling apart, constantly worrying, and freaking out

Those who struggle with high functioning anxiety are usually always busy, need to have things under their control, are very organized, or have a tendency to overthink, ruminate, and worry constantly.

The DSM does not label High-Functioning Anxiety as an official diagnosis. However, the symptoms are very similar to Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Common Signs of High-Functioning Anxiety:

  • Catastrophizing and Ruminating –

    • Thinking that the worst is going to happen

    • Excessive worry

    • Overthinking about things you have said or done in the past

  • The constant need to have to be doing something –

    • Staying constantly busy

    • Struggling to relax or take a break

  • Externally, you are productive, successful, and accomplish things –

    • On the outside, you seem to have it all together but on the inside, you are fighting from falling apart every day.

  • Perfectionism or Type-A Personality –

    • Over-achieving

    • Spending a lot of time organizing, creating structure, making lists

  • Fear of disappointing others –

    • Apologize all the time even when you did not do anything

    • Fear of losing friends

    • Fear of hurting other people’s feelings

    • You don’t know how to say no

  • Nervous chatter –

    • You are so anxious and nervous that you cannot stop talking when with others. Silence is so uncomfortable,

  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping

How to treat and manage anxiety:

There is no real cure for anxiety however, there are many ways to manage anxiety. Managing anxiety consists of learning coping skills and tools to help you decrease negative thought patterns, become more present, be more mindful, and find what helps you feel calm and grounded.

Some common ways to manage anxiety are:

1. Therapy and Counseling:
Learn to deal with anxious thoughts, increase coping skills to manage anxiety and stress, learn to calm the nervous system, and process where these anxious thoughts are coming from.

2. Medication:
Certain Medications can help decrease anxiety. Some people may benefit from utilizing it while others may not. Please refer to your primary care physician or psychiatrist.

3. Mindfulness: 
Mindfulness has been known to help decrease anxiety by bringing attention to the present moment rather than thoughts about the past and future.

4. Meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture, and other alternative healing modalities:
Alternative healing modalities can also be helpful to manage anxiety as they help one find a balance between the mind and body and help one focus on the present moment and work on regulating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Final Thoughts:

I hope this post helps you be more informed about High-Functioning Anxiety. If you think that you are struggling with anxiety, and are curious about starting the therapy process, feel free to call me at 747-200-5821 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’m more than happy to help. I am also happy to refer you to the right therapist for you. If you are looking for help with anxiety, perfectionism, fear, doubt, or burnout, you can read more about how I can help here.

Arati Patel Bio.jpg

Arati Patel, LMFT

Hi, I’m Arati Patel, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a passion for healing and helping individuals so they can achieve their goals, hopes, and dreams. I have specialized interests in working with anxiety, perfectionism, fear, doubt, and first generation individuals deal with cultural stress and identity issues. I currently work through my private practice in Laguna Hills, CA.