Always Consider Yourself First
As a person with high functioning anxiety, you will always have a lot of priorities, go out of your way to help others and have a number of goals. You need to put your wellbeing on the top of the list, which is the first step to reducing your anxiety. Always ensure to take care of your body, health, and mind.
Think of it like a lifeguard or swimmer. You need to take care of yourself first and know how to swim, before you can save others or else youll both drown.
Anxiety And Substance Use Disorders
Research shows a high correlation between anxiety and substance use. Although the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder is higher with a serious mental illness , high-functioning anxiety leads to its own set of risks.
For example, people in this group are more likely to habitually use tobacco products, marijuana and kratom. Anxiety and fear of failure has also led to a rise in nootropics like Adderall and Ritalin, particularly on college campuses. Notably, all of these drugs only provide temporary relief and can make long-term anxiety worse.
People with high-functioning anxiety are also at risk of abusing prescription anti-anxiety medications, which are increasingly available on the street. Alarmingly, many anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, are highly addictive and meant only for short-term, monitored use. Its important never to take anxiety medication unless under a doctors care.
Its also important to recognize the impact of drinking with anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines, even if you have a prescription and even if youre not abusing alcohol. Since benzodiazepines and alcohol are both depressants, mixing the substances can dangerously lower heart rate and depress the central nervous system. Notably, mixing alcohol with any medication can change the intended effect of that medication in a dangerous way.
The Main Difference Between High Functioning Anxiety And Regular Anxiety Is That One Gets A Diagnosis
Diagnoses are all based off the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder you need to meet a specific criteria which include: feeling worried, anxious, irritable, restless, have trouble sleeping and experience muscular tension for at least six months. But thats not it, these issues need to be causing a substantial level of interference with your daily life in order for you to get a diagnosis.
However, since those with High Functioning Anxiety present as exactly that- high functioning their struggles are masked from the outside world, and their need for support, unseen.
Chapter : Signs And Symptoms Of High
High-functioning anxiety is poorly misunderstood despite anxiety being the most prevalent mental health issue worldwide. Persons with high-functioning anxiety exhibit unique behaviors. These behaviors include:
- Having strict and rigid routines
- Having an unending busy schedule
- Cold behavior
Just Because Its Invisible Doesnt Mean It Isnt Real
One of the most isolating aspects of having high functioning anxiety is that others dont seem to get it because it isnt obvious. Just like having depression is different than being in a wheelchair, having anxiety is the same. All conditions that impact ones ability to live, love and engage are valid, regardless if they are visible or not.
Try to do your best to understand that I am struggling. My brain wiring is different, and even though you cant see my brain scans, they look different from someone whose mind is calm.
Validation goes a long way in supporting your high functioning loved one or friend. As Jill Bolte Taylor has been quote, just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated. By listening authentically, being curious and wanting to expand your understanding of how someone with anxiety functions, you offer a sense of healing and compassion. And that is a true gift.
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Just Because You Cant See My Illness Doesnt Mean Its Not There
One of the things I struggle most with as a person with high-functioning anxiety is the fact that other people, including my family and friends, easily excuse the times my anxiety is giving me problems, because I dont seem to have anything wrong with me. I still have sleepless and restless nights because of overthinking. I still learn every day how a normal person is supposed to react to certain situations. Its much harder to talk about it when it doesnt visibly appear like youre suffering. Alex
I think there are misconceptions that high-functioning anxiety is a lot like mania. But for me, thats not true. Most of my anxiety is internal. I do a damn good job of keeping it hidden, because I have a family to protect. I need people to think Im dealing with it in healthy ways. And I mostly am. But theres a big difference in being manic and being anxious. Steve
I have a career I love and a great relationship. I volunteer in my community. Im out there in the world living, but with an invisible health condition. Sometimes I get really resentful and angry about how hard I have to work to manage my health. I think part of it is genetic, part of it was family of origin experiences, and part of it is my lifestyle. Dana
A Good Day For Me Is Conscious Not Natural
For me, a good day means I dont check my phone immediately when I wake up. I wait until Ive had 10 to 15 minutes to meditate on the back porch. A good day means I make it to work on time I dont feel the need to apologize for a million little things that no one else is noticing, and I dont lock myself in the bathroom stall at work for three minutes of silence. I get home, am present with my wife and children, eat dinner, and get five to six hours of uninterrupted sleep. Thats a really good day. Steve
High-functioning to me means that Im able to be productive. My anxieties dont stand in my way too much. Most importantly, it means that Im able to recognize my symptoms, take action, and keep the anxiety from blowing up. Action might mean an anti-anxiety medication, a body scan, deep breaths, or reaching out to safe people to let them know how Im feeling. Lynda
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Keep In Touch With Supportive People
It is vital to connect with close family and friends while dealing with high-functioning anxiety. Surrounding yourself with supportive people gives you an invaluable source of positivity. Connect with a supportive person anytime your anxiety goes beyond your control. Supportive people usually have a harmonious mindset. Such people will help guide you through challenging times and situations.
Reading through this section of the guide has familiarized you with the basics, signs, symptoms, treatment options of high-functioning anxiety. Do you still doubt if you have high-functioning anxiety?
I May Need Breather Or Some Alone Time And I Dont Need To Explain It
If youre the one with anxiety, you know that one of the first steps to pulling the reins back on high functioning anxiety is learning to slow down, practice breathing and shift your thoughts. In order to do that, youll probably be making changes that others around you will notice, and may make some comments. You dont need to excuse yourself, but rather stay steady and fiercely protect the steps you need to take, or boundaries you need to set so you can help your anxiety levels lower.
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Negative Traits Of High Functioning Anxiety
With the case of someone with high functioning anxiety, there may be a struggle that often lives below the successful image.
People dont know that these actions are caused by anxiety and pressures because its apart of them its who they are.
Though it says high functioning, day by day it might vary. Youll have great days, bad days, and day days.
- The people pleaser fear of being a bad friend/person/partner, letting others down, or afraid of pushing people away
- Nervous talk not fully comfortable in silence
- Nervous traits playing with your hair, biting your lip, constant leg shaking, cracking your knuckles
- Overthinking, racing mind and rumination
- Need for reassurance
- Avoiding eye contact
Indications Of High Functioning Anxiety
As mentioned above, individuals dealing with high functioning anxiety give off the impression that they are capable of achieving great levels of success in many aspects of their lives despite any silent nerves any worries. Internally, this is not the case. As a matter of fact, externally this is not necessarily the case either. The physical signs and symptoms of a person suffering from high function anxiety will in fact experience the same physical symptoms as any other person dealing with anxiety. Some of these physical symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
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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. Heres how to know if you have anxiety-related symptoms of high functioning anxiety:
What Can You Do For High Functioning Anxiety
What can you do for high functioning anxiety if you notice it?
There is help out there for people who are dealing with any form of anxiety, including the high functioning forms. However, certain characteristics of high functioning anxiety may have prevented you from seeking help.
There are many reasons you might not have sought help for high functioning anxiety include:
- You find it a double-edged sword and dont want to lose the positive influence of anxiety on your success
- You are worried that your work will suffer if you are not constantly driven to work hard out of fear
- You believe that youre achieving/successful it means you dont need help or you dont deserve help
- You think everyone struggles the way you do because its normal for you
- You believe youre bad at dealign with life stress
- You dont talk about your internal struggles and the silence has reinforced the feeling that you cant ask for help. What would they think or say?
- People may not believe you because they havent seen you struggle
- You may have a different picture of what anxiety looks like
We have assumptions of what things should look like you may think ageing requires a cane, bad posture, and no teeth.
It can apply to anxiety as well, its not just the person who is housebound, cant work, bites their nails, or struggles to maintain relationships of any kind.
It can be the fund manager that manages high profile accounts to the person who is smiling while taking your order at Starbucks.
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What To Do If You Have High Functioning Anxiety:
Its important that you recognize what is normal anxiety versus what is presenting as an anxiety disorder. Fighting through and facing the scary and uncertain is a natural way to combat anxiety. Do understand though that there is a difference between thriving in life and fighting to survive. You dont have to fight to survive.
Regardless of how well one hides their anxiety, it can be treated effectively in many different ways. Find something that works for you. Options include cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, exercise, controlled breathing techniques, herbal remedies, EFT tapping, medication and countless other treatments. There are so many ways to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Work with you trusted practitioner to formulate a plan of action for you.
What Are The Most Effective Treatments For High Functioning Anxiety
High functioning anxiety may cause many issues for a person they may find that others misunderstand them, which results in the sufferer not feeling seen or heard.
The stress of this alone makes reaching out for support a bit more of a challenge whilst others may well get the help they need and have an entirely different experience.
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What It Looks Like
Coworkers may say you are driven in your workyou’ve never missed a deadline or fallen short in a given task. Not only that, but you’re also always willing to help others when asked. What’s more, your social schedule also seems busy and full.
What others might not know is that beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect exterior, you’re fighting a constant churn of anxiety.
It may have been nervous energy, fear of failure, and being afraid of disappointing others that drove you to success.
Though you desperately need a day off work to get yourself together, you’re often too afraid to call in sick. Nobody would ever believe something was wrong, because you always portrayed yourself as being fine.
If these characteristics sound familiar, here’s a look at what you might experience or what others might observe of you if you have high functioning anxiety.
Concentrate On Your Breathing Patterns
Long-term anxiety affects your breathing patterns. It becomes abnormal and shallow. Concentrate on your breathing cycle. Try taking deep breaths. Start inhaling from your mouth and exhaling from your nose. The breathing pattern will make you aware of your breathing patterns. It also helps your mind relax as you are concentrating on a particular project.
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Approaching Your Spouse With Anxiety
Noticing the signs of high-functioning anxiety is one thing, but approaching your loved one about them is a different story. Only 36.7% percent of people with an anxiety disorder get treatment, and this number is believed to be lower for those with high-functioning anxiety. When you consider the fact that this disorder makes it difficult to express feelings, this number makes sense. Throw in the fact that many people function well enough that they dont realize they have a problem, and broaching the subject of treatment seems to be even more difficult. But it doesnt have to be. When bringing up the subject of your spouses anxiety, try to be sure you:
Identify Negative Thought Patterns
Begin to identify your self-talk in order to identify thought patterns. You may need to use a journal to do so. You will likely find that anxiety involves a lot of negative predictions such as âWhat if I donât make this deadline?â or âI know I will do something stupid during this presentationâ or âI can never get this rightâ. Once you have noticed a negative thought, try to treat yourself with the same compassion that you would treat a close friend. Respond with positive, realistic and helpful thoughts, such as, âI always make my deadlines, and even if I miss this one it wonât be the end of the worldâ and âI have had good success in the past and itâs important that I know I am always growingâ.
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