Like most mental health conditions, anxiety can manifest in many ways, including high functioning anxiety. As such, it is sometimes challenging for the person suffering from high functioning anxiety and those around them to spot it.
Therefore, it’s important that you understand the signs and symptoms of high functioning anxiety. Identifying symptoms is the first step in treating anxiety.
This article explains what high functioning anxiety is and discusses the seven most common signs and symptoms.
What is High Functioning Anxiety
It is imperative that we start by expressly stating that high functioning anxiety is not a diagnosis because it is not an anxiety disorder recognized under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). DSM-5 is the manual that provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.
Nevertheless, high functioning anxiety refers to cases of people who experience anxiety while still managing daily life quite well. People with high functioning anxiety appear put together and well-accomplished on the outside, but they all suffer worry, obsessive thoughts, and stress on the inside.
Common Signs High Functioning Anxiety
Mental health conditions such as anxiety are not physical illnesses and thus don’t show on the body. Anxiety is a disease of the mind, which makes it difficult to recognize.
High functioning anxiety is particularly difficult to spot. Most people with this form of anxiety are successful individuals. Yet, this type of anxiety can be crippling. It is critical to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of high functioning anxiety and how to manage it.
Discussed below are seven signs:
While it is normal to set goals and work toward achieving them, people with high functioning anxiety tend to set too many high goals. These people may never stop working. They stay late at the office and never take vacations.
When suffering from anxiety, you may never feel satisfied with your work. Your boss and coworkers may regard you very positively, but all that matters to an overachiever is the next goal to hit.
Overachievers present a professional appearance and meet deadlines. Many also maintain an active social life. It is, therefore, hard to recognize when you or a loved one is an overachiever struggling with high functioning anxiety.
An overachiever can’t stop working because their anxiety compels them to keep going above and beyond the healthy limit.
Another sign that someone is suffering from high functioning anxiety is over-apologizing. While many bosses correct or forgive small mistakes, no mistake is too small for people with anxiety.
People with high functioning anxiety tend to apologize even for things that aren’t their fault. They are more likely to take responsibility for other people’s mistakes or accidents outside their control.
Apologizing for small things often leads to taking up more work or responsibility. They want to correct every mistake and ask for more tasks or redo their work. As a result, one ends up feeling stretched too thin.
Normal levels of anxiety serve as a great mental check. It can help you recognize the mistakes you have made and correct them. However, too much anxiety prompts you to be too cautious.
When suffering from high-functioning anxiety, you tend to stress out over everything. For example, you might find yourself revising a written work way too many times. If you are a boss, you might find yourself checking in with your subordinates too many times a day, which translates to over control.
High functioning anxiety can also lead to fear of failure. If you make one small mistake, you will likely view yourself as having failed. It is not uncommon for people with high functioning anxiety to become overly focused on results while neglecting the process of creating work.
Although people around you will view you as a good worker, the truth is that you are pushing yourself too hard.
Although it’s expected that some tasks require more thought than others, people with high-functioning anxiety apply the same level of high thought to all tasks. You will find yourself giving a 100-word assignment the same priority as a 2000-word assignment. With this approach, you will end up applying unwarranted sophisticated techniques.
You will feel so exhausted, and this might hurt your work process. For instance, you may turn in your assignment late because you spent so much time thinking over it.
Others with high functioning anxiety overthink their mental and physical health. If you do that, you become a hypochondriac, convinced that you have significant health issues. Such self-diagnosis will only worsen your anxiety.
When a person is suffering from anxiety, they are likely to associate failure with the smallest of things, including saying “no” to others. Many think they are failing in the other person’s eyes. As a result, people with high functioning anxiety rarely say no.
Like over-apologizing, the inability to say no leads one to overexert themselves. You will end up taking more work on your shoulders, forcing yourself to work past normal hours, and exhausting yourself.
The inability to say “no” can cause trouble in social settings. For instance, you might end up committing yourself to a relationship that isn’t good for you. You might also find yourself giving too much to your partner without asking for anything in return.
The most prevalent physical sign of high functioning anxiety is trouble sleeping or too little sleep. This happens when you spend the night thinking about different things instead of going to bed.
For most people with high functioning anxiety, their mind is still racing when they go to bed. They keep thinking about stuff and can’t fall asleep. Others wake up in the middle of the night, consumed in thoughts. It is also not uncommon for people with this type of anxiety to wake up early to get work done.
Individuals with high functioning anxiety often use alcohol and drugs to cope with stress or to work longer. Drugs offer a rush that gives you the energy to push on. As such, you are likely to become dependent on alcohol or drugs for feelings of pleasure or happiness.
You might even realize your unhealthy behavior but still fail to seek professional help. Turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with your problems shows you have high functioning anxiety.
Find Help at My Psychiatrist
Living with anxiety can be incredibly difficult. You may experience a range of symptoms, from difficulty concentrating to feeling more irritable and overwhelmed than usual. It’s important to understand that these feelings are real and can affect your quality of life.
At My Psychiatrist, we understand how challenging it can be to confront the reality of high functioning anxiety. That’s why we have a team of highly qualified mental health professionals here to help you find the support and care you need. We offer virtual consultations as well as offices in South Florida for those who would prefer in-person appointments.
Don’t let anxiety hold you back any longer. Take the first step towards living a healthier life and contact My Psychiatrist today. We’d love to help you find the right solution for your situation. To learn more or schedule an appointment, click here or call (877) 548-8089.