Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are more often than not considered taboo by society. Hence, people suffering from mental illness rarely come forward and open up to others about their problems. When talking about high functioning anxiety, more than 70% of cases remain undiagnosed until they take a serious toll on mental health.
This article will help you understand high functioning anxiety, its signs and symptoms and treatment methods. You will also learn how high functioning anxiety is different from anxiety. If you or your loved ones suffer from high functioning anxiety, do not worry. It is curable. We recommend diagnosing and treating your anxiety issues with anxiety counseling to avoid serious mental health issues in the future.
Coping with High Functioning Anxiety
People suffering from high functioning anxiety seldom know about it. The main reason for this is the normalcy in their lives. They are high achievers, organized and balance their lives so well that it is difficult for anyone to ever consider the fact that they suffer from any type of anxiety issues. Many celebrities and successful people around the world suffer from high functioning anxiety or an anxiety disorder with high functioning anxiety.
Is High Functioning Anxiety a Mental Illness?
High functioning anxiety does not classify as a mental health disorder like anxiety disorder or depression. But, if left unnoticed and untreated at early stages, high functioning anxiety may lead to anxiety or depression in the future.
People who have already recovered from depression and anxiety disorder tend to live with high functioning anxiety. In such cases, they know the causes and triggers of their anxiety. Hence, they can deal with anxiety symptoms in a better manner.
It is highly essential for a person suffering from high functioning anxiety to understand and accept their feelings to function normally in society. Only when a person accepts how he is feeling, can he work towards eliminating the symptoms of high functioning anxiety altogether.
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What is High Functioning Anxiety?
High functioning anxiety is a mental health condition in which a person experiences symptoms of anxiety or anxiety disorder such as fear, stress, overthinking, worry or poor sleep, but functions well in daily life and doesn’t appear to suffer from any anxiety issues on the outside.
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Severity of High Functioning Anxiety
A person suffering from high functioning anxiety usually suffers from moderate anxiety symptoms. They are neither too mild to be ignored, nor too severe to disrupt the daily work of an individual. As a result, most people with high functioning anxiety rarely diagnose their anxiety issues.
Effects of High Functioning Anxiety
In many cases, high functioning anxiety is the reason for the constant success in a person’s life. Many studies have shown that a certain amount of stress helps get work done and achieve positive results. When this positive stress becomes a constant companion accompanied by the fear of failure, it results in high functioning anxiety.
Characteristics of High Functioning Anxiety
People with high functioning anxiety usually have the following characteristics:
- Successful career
- Have a good social life
- Pleasant and happy
- Driven to work (workaholics)
- Successful relationships
- Always calm and loving
Signs and Symptoms of High Functioning Anxiety
People with symptoms of high functioning anxiety seem to be perfect in all spheres of everyday life. They portray an image of a perfect individual who is capable of achieving success. However, this exterior image is deceiving. Internally, they feel a turmoil of constant worry and stress. They have symptoms similar to those of anxiety, such as:
– Constant worry and stress
– Not satisfied by their performance and achievement
– Fear of failure
– Fear of others judgment
– Irregular sleeping patterns
– Difficulty in saying no
– Unconscious nervous habits like fidgeting with hands, nail or lip biting
– Lack of self-confidence
– Poor sleep quality
– Difficulty in decision-making
Despite having the above signs and symptoms, they can easily brush off their constant worries and stress and continue with routine activities.
Difference Between High Functioning Anxiety and Anxiety Disorder
The main difference between high functioning anxiety and anxiety disorder is the severity of symptoms and the reaction to those symptoms. People with high functioning anxiety have mild anxiety symptoms when compared with those suffering from an anxiety disorder. They are easily able to hide their symptoms. Hence, their symptoms are not so obvious. In the case of anxiety disorder, however, the symptoms are obvious and people are usually able to recognize the signs of anxiety. As a result, anxiety disorder is more likely to be diagnosed and treated in its early stages.
Anxiety Disorder vs High Functioning Anxiety: Nature of Fight and Flight
People suffering from high functioning anxiety usually have a ‘fight’ response in times of stress. They tend to work and hustle harder to achieve further milestones. They focus on routines, habits, and productivity. This contrasts with those suffering from an anxiety disorder, in which people have a ‘flight’ response in stressful situations. They tend to pull back themselves from areas of anxiety, and may even end up experiencing a mental breakdown. It is difficult for a person suffering from high functioning anxiety to accept their symptoms as part of their character, as they feel it symbolizes a lack of control.
How to Know if You Have High Functioning Anxiety
Though stress and anxiety may sound the same to a lot of people, they are different. Anxiety is often considered a constant feeling of stress, but it is much more than that. Both high functioning anxiety and anxiety disorder have similar signs and symptoms.
Although each person is different and shows different signs of anxiety, there are a few common symptoms seen in a majority of people with anxiety. Here’s how to know if you have anxiety-related symptoms of high functioning anxiety:
– You are unable to identify what is making you anxious
– You are unable to concentrate or focus on work for long durations
– Constant feelings of stress and restlessness
– Faster breathing and heart rate
– Inconsistent sleeping pattern or insomnia
– Constantly feeling tired and mentally exhausted
– Feeling constant irritation and always being short-tempered
– A constant need for reassurance
And, if you tend to find success in most aspects of life yet still have anxiety-related symptoms, you may have high functioning anxiety
Famous People and Celebrities with High Functioning Anxiety
We often feel that successful people have no mental health issues due to the success we see in their careers and everyday lives. However, as we mentioned earlier, the exterior image is often misleading. A lot of famous people and celebrities openly speak about their experiences with mental health issues. As a result of popular public figures opening up about their experiences with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, mental health issues have been gaining importance in recent times.
Some famous people and celebrities who suffer from high functioning anxiety are:
In 2013, Oprah Winfrey spoke about her anxiety issues that lead to her experiencing a nervous breakdown in one of her interviews.
In 2016, Selena Gomez took a break from her singing career to treat and overcome anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
In 2015, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta a.k.a. Lady Gaga, opened up about her constant struggle with anxiety and depression. She also started a born this way foundation to empower and improve mental health resources for the youth.
Kim Kardashian West
In 2016, Kim Kardashian West, a reality TV star, opened up about her constant struggles with anxiety and panic attacks.
in 2018, Chris Evan spoke about his constant feelings of anxiety and made a video with motivational madness talking about his way of coping with them.7
Treatment for High Functioning Anxiety Disorder
High Functioning Anxiety Disorder is curable and can be treated with the help of mental health counseling or therapy.
Talk Therapy for High Functioning Anxiety
The best therapy for which is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy refers to ‘talk therapy’. This is where the person speaks to a certified professional psychotherapist about their mental health symptoms. Psychologists help diagnose and treat the symptoms and recommend a plan for treatment and recovery.
Often, people having anxiety symptoms have many questions and doubts relating to their mental health condition, such as:
- “Why do I have anxiety?”
- “How to explain anxiety?”
- “What are the probable triggers of anxiety?”
- “What changes should I make to effectively deal with anxiety?”
Psychotherapy is considered the best treatment for high functioning anxiety. It helps people with high functioning anxiety understand, accept and deal with anxiety and its symptoms. Other therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal or group therapies are also effective. If, however, psychotherapy proves to be ineffective, your therapist may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help cope with anxiety symptoms.
Natural Treatment for High Functioning Anxiety
Apart from therapy and medication, you also need to make few changes in your routine and mindset that will help get rid of anxiety and its symptoms:
- Accept that you have anxiety
- It is okay if you are not perfect
- Include yoga and meditation in your daily routine
- Self-care: drinking enough water, eating healthy, proper sleeping cycle
- Spend quality time with your family
Even if anxiety is part of your daily life, it can be reduced by incorporating the above. As time goes on, you’ll start to notice positive changes in your life. However, if natural remedies do not ease the symptoms of high functioning anxiety, do not hesitate to ask for help.