What High-Functioning Anxiety Looks Like

May 20, 2021

Anxiety looks different for different people. While some people are frozen by anxiety, others are propelled by it. High-functioning anxiety is not an official diagnosis; but it is a specific form of anxiety that some people experience. There is a stark contrast between how people with high-functioning anxiety appear and how they actually feel. Here’s what there is to know:

How You May Appear

People can have anxiety and still function really well in different aspects of their lives. This is typical of high-functioning anxiety. On the outside, people with this type of anxiety may appear very calm and put together. They are typically high-achieving, organized, driven, and outgoing– Type A personalities. While these types of people can be really successful, don’t be fooled. Their anxiety is still very much present and can be debilitating (even if others don’t notice it).

How You May Really Feel

While those with high-functioning anxiety appear confident and may accomplish a lot, their anxiety is still difficult to cope with. On the inside, high-functioning anxiety can be characterized by overthinking, harmful perfectionism, a need for reassurance and people-pleasing, and an intense fear of failure. Although the anxiety isn’t obvious, it is very much there and can be damaging.

People who experience high-functioning anxiety may not show their true feelings to anyone. They might compartmentalize their feelings and not fully deal with them for the sake of being productive. However, it’s important that we confront difficult emotions or fears that we have, since it will help us better manage anxiety. Now that you know a little more about what high-functioning anxiety looks like, here are a few tips on how to manage it:

Tips to Manage Your Anxiety

  • Try taking moments out of your day to practice mindfulness. During especially stressful times, pause, take some deep breaths and ground yourself in the present.
  • Make sure you are taking care of your basic needs: getting regular exercise, eating healthy and getting a full night of sleep
  • Challenge unhelpful thoughts. Those with high-functioning anxiety may do a lot of catastrophizing, or assuming the worst will happen if they don’t perform well or appear to have it all together. Practice questioning these thoughts and considering if they are really true, or if it is anxiety (and doubt) trying to weigh you down.
  • Try going to therapy. At Eugene Therapy, our compassionate therapists will help give you tools to effectively cope with your high-functioning anxiety.

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