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What Is High Functioning Anxiety

Can It Be A Good Thing

12 Things High Functioning Anxiety Makes you Do

Other people with high functioning anxiety may see their symptoms as a gift that pushes them to be motivated and driven to perform at high levels. Without anxiety, they might not be able to accomplish their goals.

Anxiety as a tool has some scientific backing. Called the Yerkes-Dodson Law, this principle states some levels of anxiety are positively correlated to increased performance at work, school, or home.2 When anxiety is too high or too low, performance suffers. Some people with high functioning anxiety may strike the desired balance between their stress and productivity. However, others might be able to function short-term, but something like work anxiety can start small and become a problem if not addressed.

What Does It Mean To Be High

The term high-functioning generally means a person is operating at an elevated level, usually one that is above average functioning of others under the same or similar circumstances. The term is often used in relationship to developmental disorders, but it has often been used in relationship to mental health disorders to signify that a person is operating above whatever threshold is considered the norm.

With regard to anxiety disorder, the term high functioning has been the subject of much debate. While not an official diagnosis, the symptoms one feels are very real. But because people who suffer from high functioning anxiety appear not to have any disruptions or impairments of life functions, many people do not know anything is wrong, not even the person who is experiencing the anxiety. A person might look fine, even though his or her heart rate might be elevated, and intense feelings of doom and gastrointestinal distress are present. However, the ability to power through to get the job done is also high enough to overcome the anxiety while in public. Some of the same people later crash when in private. The exercise of controlling intense emotions can take a toll and require time alone, or periods of very low functioning in order to regroup. Other medical and mental health issues can develop under these circumstances.

What Does High Functioning Anxiety Feel Like

  • Urge to micromanage others a need to know whats going on with everything
  • Difficulty letting go, delegating or trusting others to carry out tasks
  • Feeling like you need to be the one to complete tasks
  • Muscular tension, headaches, GI upset, or other physical pain
  • Frequent nervousness, worry or feelings of dread and doom
  • Feeling overwhelmed or burned out
  • Irritability or anger
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, and never feeling rested
  • Boredom and loneliness from all work and no play
  • Feeling like you are never good enough
  • Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Have An Anxiety Disorder

    Be Compassionate With Yourself

    Achievements can boost self-esteem, but studies show that building self-compassion is actually more beneficial for mental health. Self-compassion means being kind to yourself, just as you would be to a good friend. It means offering yourself reassurance, acceptance, and caring even whenespecially whenyou feel self-critical and insecure.

    Am I Making Progress In Life Or Just Trying To Survive

    High Functioning Anxiety  The Scrubby, MD

    High-functioning anxiety is not considered a mental health diagnosis. This is because of those who experience it self-report being able to function reasonably well in life. Furthermore, no discernible behavior changes may be seen by others. Although on the outside it may seem that a person is functioning well, the internal struggle of a person experiencing it can be quite disrupting. Mental health professionals do recognize there can be varying degrees of impairment. They may tell their patient they have mild anxiety mild in the sense that the anxiety may not be expressed externally, in contrast to possible moderate to severe internal manifestations.

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    Is There Treatment For High

    This type of mental health challenge can absolutely be managed, and rewiring of behaviors or habits is absolutely achievable. “Working on lessening high-functioning anxiety and bettering yourself, however, is a daily process and hard it’s like each time you have the opportunity to fall into behavior, you have to do the opposite action,” says Cohen.

    As Cohen puts it, high-functioning anxiety is “a way of being in the world a way of interacting with the world and the world is not going away.” This means that if you’re dealing with high-functioning anxiety, you have “years and years of conditioning to undo,” she says. Heres how:

    How Is High Functioning Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed

    As mentioned above, high functioning anxiety is often diagnosed in older adults, where most anxiety disorders are diagnosed in teens or young adults. This is largely because high functioning anxiety lacks many of the most recognizable symptoms of other anxiety disorders, although it shares much of the same diagnostic criteria. As a result, high functioning anxiety is often diagnosed when the individual sees a therapist or counselor about another, seemingly unrelated issue, like relationship counseling.

    Further, because people with high functioning anxiety are often perfectionists and insist on specific routines, they may seek a diagnosis for a better-known disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder. Their attempts to avoid things that trigger their anxiety may also make some of their symptoms look like symptoms of disorders like depression. Many people with depression also have anxiety, so being diagnosed with another disorder may lead to the discovery of an individual’s high functioning anxiety.

    High functioning anxiety may also be initially noticed by a primary care provider because chronic stress, like that experienced by those with anxiety disorders, can lead to physical symptoms that may turn up in a routine checkup. These include high blood pressure, heart problems, sustained muscle tension, poor immune system, digestive problems, muscle pain, weight loss or weight gain, and other symptoms which can lead to an official diagnosis and treatment.

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    Utilize Mindful Techniques That Reduce Anxiety

    There are numerous approaches to mindfulness to alleviate anxiety symptoms. One simple yet effective technique is breathing. Slowing your breath deliberately sends a signal to the brain to increase serotonin which helps dispel cortisol . This will ensure the reduction of physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as enhanced heart rate and high blood pressure. Try the following 4-2-6 breathing method to help change anxiety into power and insight.

    Meditation or visualization are other effective techniques as they bring you to the present and focus more on the positives. The next time you feel anxiety, try to gradually shift your perception to something else like looking at your surroundings or listening to the hustle and bustle of your workplace. By focusing on an element in the current moment, you can feel present in the moment, where you know without a doubt that you are in control.

    Name It And Normalize It

    What is high-functioning anxiety and what do you do about it?

    In Breland-Nobles practice, she works to “reduce stigma by naming and normalizing anxiety, including high-functioning anxiety. “I want my patients to understand that they are not alone, a lot of people live with this, and there’s a healthier way to live but only if you name and acknowledge what you’re dealing with.” (

    Recommended Reading: How To Help A Partner With Anxiety

    Getting Help With High Functioning Anxiety

    While its always a good idea to seek out treatment for anxiety, you should make sure that the clinic you approach is able to treat high functioning anxiety. Why? Anxiety treatment often has a focus on enabling productivity and task completion which are blockers for many people with anxiety. If you have high functioning anxiety, you can start with emotional regulation, with coping mechanisms, and with techniques to improve breathing and heart rate so you calm down physically and reduce stress.

    If you or a loved one is struggling, the staff at Compassion Recovery can help. We offer anxiety mental health treatment, fully customized to the individual, with changes in the program, approach, and focus based on individual problems, progress, and worries. That makes our program a perfect fit for individuals with high functioning anxiety, because we can assess where youre at, how much youre masking versus what doesnt affect you as much and design a treatment program around those needs. Just because you can function doesnt mean anxiety isnt impacting your quality of life, and we can help you to learn coping mechanisms, reduce symptoms, and get your life back.

    If you or you loved one need help with mental health treatment, drug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us to ask about our mental health programs and how we can support your specific requirements as you move into treatment.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine View On High Functioning Anxiety

    Traditional Chinese Medicine sees anxiety as an emotion related mainly to the Heart. You can read more about this in my previous blog post on Everything you need to know about Anxiety.

    However for High Functioning Anxiety, not only is the Heart the main organ involved, the Kidney is another organ that is in high deficit for this condition.

    This is because patients on high functioning mode are usually on the fight-and-flight response and adrenaline is constantly running though their system so that they can be on optimal performance mode all the time. However this adrenaline rush is upkept by the energy from the Kidney which governs life essences and core life force.

    Therefore High Functioning Anxiety patients usually have a mixture of syndromes which presents as Heart and Kidney energies being imbalanced. Heart fire is usually excessive which results in symptoms such as heart palpitations, irritability, frustrations, mind racing. Kidney yin and yang are usually deficient which can show up as symptoms such as insomnia or poor sleep, hot flushes, night sweating, low libido and a constant feeling of fear and worry.

    Recommended Reading: How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Anxiety

    Try Out Therapy Particularly Cbt

    Both psychologists recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify and change destructive thought patterns, and, thus, a trained professional who can guide you through these techniques as well as other treatments. “CBT focuses on the thoughts that get it the way and push this perfectionism,” explains Cohen. “If you challenge your thoughts, however, you can see shifts in how you think and, thus, how you act.

    Characteristics Of People With High

    High functioning Anxiety is like when your room looks squeaky clean but ...

    If you can relate to the above symptoms then you need to understand these characteristics of a person with high-functioning anxiety:

    You might have high-functioning anxiety if:

    • You excel in your job but struggle with personal and social relationships.
    • Your anxiety makes you look like youre ambitious.
    • You look and act put together but in reality, youre struggling.
    • Any change in your routine makes you upset.
    • Your mind is constantly on and refuses to calm.
    • You often zone out when in the company of others.
    • You get upset over small things that many people think arent a big deal.
    • You cancel plans because youre low on energy.
    • Your day off feels like a workday.
    • Youre constantly misunderstood by others because you seem put together and fine.

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    Rewiring Our Neurons With Our Soul’s Grace

    In todays episode 005, Rewiring Our Neurons with our Souls Grace, I love this topic, and I can’t wait to share with you about why tips, tricks, and advice don’t necessarily always work in the long term. This is really the core and the crux of the balance of all of this brain nerd stuff that I do all the time. I love talking about our soul’s grace. One of the things that I always say, is no matter how many tips, tricks, and advice that you can get anywhere, there is so much that you could just Google on either high functioning anxiety as well as clinical anxiety. There is no amount of tips, tricks, and advice that you could use that’s going to commit to long term change. It isn’t until you start rewiring your neurons at the basic core of biology that’s the behind the scenes of what’s happening in your growth management.

    What Is The Difference Between High

    Unlike generalized anxiety disorder, high functioning anxiety is not a recognized anxiety disorder. While the two have many overlapping symptoms, the biggest difference arises in the overall impact of the anxiety on the persons day-to-day functioning.

    Generalized anxiety is characterized by persistent worry and anxiety about everyday events and can often be crippling. People with general anxiety typically feel frozen by their symptoms and find it hard to engage in certain activities and daily tasks. They may also find themselves seeking excessive reassurance to ease their stress.

    People with high-functioning anxiety may similarly experience persistent worry and fear, but they feel driven forward by their symptoms. They may carry a constant fear of failure, nervous energy, perfectionism, or obsessive thoughts of achievements that push them to throw themselves into work and hobbies to alleviate the symptoms.

    Their desire to minimize their anxious feelings often leads them to work harder and succeed more, but behind the smile is a perpetually worried individual struggling with anxiety.

    Read Also: Can A Brain Tumor Cause Anxiety

    Famous People With High Functioning Anxiety

    When trying to raise awareness of a social issue like mental illness, it can be helpful to identify well-known or famous people as examples.

    Stars such as Barbra Streisand and Donny Osmond, and athletes like Zack Greinke and Ricky Williams, have all been forthcoming about their experiences with high functioning anxiety.

    Scott Stossel, the national editor of The Atlantic,has written extensively about his experiences with anxiety in the context of his achievements.

    Notes Comments And Feedback

    What is High Functioning Anxiety?

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    Also Check: Do Pediatricians Prescribe Anxiety Medication

    Maintenance Of Treatment Gains At 3

    In the IT condition, 10 families returned for a 3-month follow-up assessment no statistical differences were found between children who did or did not return for the follow-up assessment on demographics or measures of interest. Results from within-subjects t tests, comparing parent-reported VABS total and Personal Daily Living Skills, and PCIQ parental intrusiveness at posttreatment and follow-up indicate that the treatment effect was maintained through the follow-up period: t = .38, p = .72 t = .05, p = .97 and t = .21, p = .84, respectively.

    High Functioning Anxiety Vs Low Functioning Anxiety

    The symptoms of both high functioning and low functioning anxiety are the same in the sense that they are both characterised by extreme worry and fear which can lead to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and trouble sleeping. The differences lie in the ability to function in everyday life.

    A common characteristic of low functioning anxiety is a disruption of daily functioning. This can depend on what type of anxiety disorder a person has.

    Someone with social anxiety disorder may struggle to talk to others or with going anywhere where they will have to socialise with others someone with a phobia such as agoraphobia will fear leaving their home which can negatively impact on their work and social life.

    In contrast, someone with high functioning anxiety will find they are still able to function well and can even strive in their work, school, or social life despite feeling the internal struggle of their anxiety.

    Recommended Reading: How To Stop Separation Anxiety In Puppies

    Physical Symptoms Of High

    Anxiety is an intense physical as well as mental experience that comes with many symptoms. Because mental illness is a spectrum, symptoms occur in varying degrees of severity, with some meeting psychologists diagnostic criteria and others not. No matter to what degree you experience anxiety, it is a valid feeling.

    You may have a form of anxiety if any of these symptoms impact you:

    • Rapid heart rate

    If you have any or all of these anxiety symptoms frequently but are still externally functioning well, you likely have high-functioning anxiety. Any level of these anxiety symptoms will impact you greatly, so dont minimize these sensations, even if they dont seem severe enough.

    How To Get Help For A Loved One

    Anxious yet efficient  Making sense of my high

    If your loved one is not convinced of the need for treatment, getting them help for their anxiety can be complicated. You may want to kindly offer some reasons why anxiety therapy and/or medication could be helpful for them. Providing them with local treatment providers, being by their side while making the appointment, and heading to the appointment with them are all great ways to show your concern and support.

    Throughout the process, make sure to let them know you are always on their side. Discuss the appointments and treatments with them as much as they are comfortable. Always continue the conversation about mental health and make yourself available.

    You May Like: How Do You Know You Have Social Anxiety

    What Is High Functioning Anxiety

    High functioning anxiety is when someone experiences anxiety symptoms but still functions well in their daily lives, such as work, school, and relationships.

    They may appear calm and confident to others. All the while, their inner voice is screaming with fear, worry, and harsh self-talk.

    They can be really hard on themselves if something is not up to their very high standards, and they often constantly overthink their choices, says Ozturk.

    High functioning anxiety is not officially recognized as an anxiety disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition .

    Instead, that person might have a specific type of anxiety disorder.

    Some people might be described as having high functioning anxiety but still experience significant distress. They might just hide their symptoms well. And some may have subclinical anxiety, meaning they dont meet the standard for an anxiety disorder but they still experience anxiety symptoms.

    Subclinical anxiety symptoms can show up as:

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