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What is High Functioning Anxiety?
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What is High Functioning Anxiety?

High-functioning anxiety is a commonly used term in medicine and psychology, even though it’s not actually a clinical diagnosis in and of itself. It describes a form of anxiety where the individual is still able to manage their daily activities and perform well at school or in the workplace whilst still dealing with anxiety.

People with high-functioning anxiety often appear successful and well-composed to the outsider world. They seem to have it all and be confident in themselves. However, deep down, these individuals are often struggling with ongoing fears and worries.

Let’s take a look at high-functioning anxiety in more detail, including details about the characteristics of this issue, how it can impact people’s lives and some helpful coping strategies.

What Are the Characteristics of High Functioning Anxiety?

The characteristics of high-functioning anxiety often manifest in similar ways across the population. This psychological issue can impair a person’s ability to complete their daily tasks and negatively impact their day-to-day functioning. 

The main signs of high-functioning anxiety include:

  • Persistent worrying about various aspects of life, whether it’s work, personal relationships, or future events
  • Physical signs of stress and anxiety, such as digestive issues, ongoing headaches, or tension in the head and neck
  • Signs of nervousness, such as nail biting or skin picking
  • Insomnia, including difficultly getting to sleep or staying asleep

What Are the Impacts of High-Functioning Anxiety?

Those with high-functioning anxiety may find that their worries affect their lives significantly. Some common impact of high-functioning anxiety include:

  • A fear of failure, despite often being very high achievers
  • Setting high expectations and unrealistic goals, then feeling inadequate when they fail to reach these goals
  • Feeling tense, irritable, and exhausted due to the constant pressure they put on themselves to overachieve

How Can People Manage High Functioning Anxiety?

Thankfully, there are some beneficial strategies that people with high-functioning anxiety can implement into their lives when anxiety attacks. Here are some of the most effective strategies.

  • Daily stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and gentle stretching
  • Lifestyle alterations, which may include reducing workloads and spending more time relaxing (which is often easier said than done but is possible with small, manageable changes)
  • Attending therapy sessions, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), to help understand the cause of the anxiety and develop healthy coping strategies
  • Taking anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) medications, such as beta-blockers or SSRIs, to tackle the physiological component of anxiety
  • Creating a consistent nightly routine that is conducive to high quality sleep

It’s important to note that everybody is different, and some people may find certain management strategies more effective than others. If you are dealing with high-functioning anxiety, it’s worth trying a few different strategies to see which ones work the best for you and minimise your anxiety the most.

If you are struggling to cope with your anxiety by yourself, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. Many individuals find that working with a professional therapist. is the most effective solution for managing high functioning anxiety.

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