High-functioning anxiety sounds like no big deal. A little stress, but you’re still holding it together despite everything. If you are a person with high-functioning anxiety, you give the appearance of obviously doing something right if you are getting things accomplished despite the stress. However, high-functioning anxiety may actually be ruining your quality of life.
While it is not considered a mental health diagnosis, high-functioning anxiety is gaining recognition as a condition that needs to be addressed. It is a sneaky condition. Those who struggle with it can appear confident, organized, and successful on the exterior, while they are consumed by fear and worry on the inside.
Over 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. This number would likely be higher if high-functioning anxiety was also an accepted and diagnosed condition. It differs from a general anxiety disorder in the way the person responds to the fight or flight response the anxiety triggers. A person suffering from a general anxiety disorder typically removes themself from the anxiety-producing situation. A person with high functioning anxiety pushes themself through the anxiety-producing situation.
You may feel like you are powering through and rocking life despite fighting high-functioning anxiety. You may not even fully realize how it’s affecting your life. Red flag signs of anxiety ruining your life include:
Excessive fatigue — Constant stress can be exhausting. You may think you are tired from accomplishing things from your to-do list when it’s actually your body being exhausted from being in a constant fight or flight mode from stress.
Lack of sleep — You may find it difficult to fall asleep despite feeling exhausted. Your mind feels like it's ruining a million miles a minute. You’re constantly thinking and worrying about what needs to get done or what might happen.
Gastrointestinal distress — When your anxiety is particularly high, you may find your stomach doesn’t feel normal. You may be a stress eater and eating more than normal or you may be a food avoider when under a lot of stress and eat less. Too much or not enough eating, your high functioning anxiety can affect your eating habits.
Headaches — You may find yourself suffering from tension headaches or migraines more frequently when your anxiety is high. Headaches can leave you suffering in bed with pain, causing further anxiety due to worrying about not getting things done as planned.
Heart problems — If left uncontrolled or untreated, the constant stress from high-functioning anxiety can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to a higher risk for strokes or heart attacks.
Depression — Constantly feeling the pressure for perfection and people pleasing can leave you feeling depressed. You may also push self-care to the back burner, possibly feeling like you don’t deserve to treat yourself if you’re not constantly pushing and working.
While high-functioning anxiety may not be an official medical diagnosis, you can still benefit from learning how to cope with and treat it. Depending on the level of effect it’s having on your life, you may benefit from working with a therapist. Ways of coping with high-functioning anxiety can include:
Foster healthy sleep habits — If you find yourself struggling to get a good night’s sleep due to your high-functioning anxiety, you can take steps to develop good sleep habits. Take time to relax before bed and stick to a firm bedtime. It is important to allow your body to rest fully; otherwise, your body may dictate its need for rest.
Therapy — Working with a therapist can be highly effective for treating anxiety. A therapist can help you better learn how to address triggers and learn healthy coping mechanisms.
Medication — When high-functioning anxiety becomes a huge barrier to your quality of life, a medical provider may prescribe you medication to help control physical symptoms. Medication can be used on its own or in conjunction with therapy.
Support — Building a good support system around you can be incredibly beneficial. Seeking support from those also dealing with high-functioning anxiety can connect you to others who understand what you’re going through. A good support system can also help take things off your plate to help with your stress load.
It is important to understand what you are experiencing is real and you don’t have to go through it alone. High-functioning anxiety doesn’t have to control your life. It takes great bravery to admit you need help and can’t do it on your own.
Life is complicated and messy. When it comes to mental health, we believe there’s no one-size-fits-all. At Halcyon Therapy Group, we understand just how important you and your unique situation and perspectives are. That’s why we offer a suite of services tailored specifically to you and your needs. You deserve better, and we are here to help. Book your complimentary consultation today and start living the life you always dreamed of.