Tips for Dealing with High-functioning Anxiety
All you need to know about high-functioning anxiety
Some individuals with anxiety may excel in various aspects of their lives and consider themselves high functioning. However, they still face challenges associated with this type of anxiety.
People with high functioning anxiety exhibit symptoms similar to general anxiety, such as excessive fear, worry, overthinking, and poor sleep. Fortunately, effective treatment options are available for all types of anxiety.
This blog aims to provide a better understanding of high functioning anxiety. It covers an overview of the condition, its causes, symptoms, and coping strategies.
Understanding high-functioning anxiety
While high functioning anxiety is not officially recognized as a distinct anxiety disorder by the medical community, individuals with anxiety symptoms often describe themselves as highly active and functioning at a higher level. They perceive their anxiety as a driving force that pushes them to excel in their daily lives.
These individuals may experience mild impairment or subclinical anxiety, where they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder but still exhibit anxiety symptoms. Signs of high functioning anxiety may include mild, atypical, hidden, or brief but recurrent stress.
Despite appearing calm and confident to others, individuals with high functioning anxiety may internally struggle with obsessive thoughts, an inability to relax, and disrupted sleep or appetite. This prolonged state of anxiety can have negative effects on their health and relationships.
Causes of high-functioning anxiety
Due to limited research on this specific mental condition, the exact causes of high functioning anxiety remain unknown. However, it is believed to share similar causes with other anxiety disorders. Some possible factors contributing to this condition include:
1. Personality: Shyness or nervousness since childhood increases the risk of developing anxiety disorders.
2. Genetics: Individuals with a family history of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, are more susceptible to developing anxiety.
3. Exposure to stress: Experiencing excessive stress or trauma at any point in life can increase the risk of developing anxiety.
4. Substance use disorders: Misuse of drugs or alcohol can elevate anxiety levels, as well as withdrawal from certain substances.
5. Other health issues: Underlying health concerns, such as thyroid or heart conditions, can trigger or worsen pre-existing anxiety symptoms. Additionally, having another mental health condition can make individuals more prone to anxiety disorders.
Signs and symptoms of high-functioning anxiety
Anecdotal reports suggest that individuals with high functioning anxiety may experience fewer symptoms that significantly impair their daily functioning. Although they may exhibit chronic anxiety disorder symptoms, these symptoms tend to be on the milder end of the spectrum. Common signs and symptoms may include:
– Fear, worry, and anxiety
– Inability to relax and constant overachievement
– Irritability and frustration
– Perfectionism, fear of failure or judgment
– Excessive busyness, overthinking, and overanalyzing
– Elevated heart rate and rapid breathing due to anticipatory anxiety
– Changes in appetite, digestive issues, and sleep problems
Coping strategies for high-functioning anxiety
If you are dealing with high functioning anxiety, there are practical ways to cope with the condition:
1. Recognize the symptoms: Understanding the behavioral changes and patterns associated with anxiety is the first step towards seeking treatment. Acknowledge that it is okay to have anxiety and focus your energy on self-care.
2. Embrace fear: Instead of avoiding or pretending away fear, try to understand its nature and how it motivates your actions. Consider seeking therapy to confront and understand your fears better.
3. Reconnect with your body: Since anxiety affects both the mind and body, it is essential to engage in physical activities to break the cycle of fearful thinking. Practice deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and take regular breaks from work to stretch or go for a walk.
4. Intervene in your anxiety: Once you identify the symptoms and patterns of anxiety, learn to intervene before the anxiety escalates. Take short breaks from situations that trigger anxiety and practice moderation in your emotional and behavioral responses to reduce overall stress levels.
Remember, managing high functioning anxiety is a journey that requires self-awareness, self-care, and seeking professional help when needed.