What Are The Symptoms Of High Functioning Anxiety?

What Are The Symptoms Of High Functioning Anxiety?

Are you anxious, but don't fit the "stereotypical anxious" profile? You might be suffering from high functioning anxiety.

Do you feel like you're trying to catch up with and do everything you should be doing now but can never seem to get ahead?

Does it ever feel like the feeling of stress is always there, even if it's not bad enough for anyone to notice?

Have you ever performed well above average when under a lot of pressure?

If the answer is yes to these questions, it may be due to high functioning anxiety.

High functioning anxiety is a term used to describe someone who has an anxiety disorder but seems to be well enough to function in society.

If you have high functioning anxiety and are not sure if you are truly suffering from an anxiety disorder or just looking for answers, this article is for you.

When we usually hear about people with anxiety, it's somebody who is in the middle of a panic attack or having trouble getting out of bed.

We hear about the lows — but what about people who experience anxiety and can still hold down jobs and seem "normal" from the outside?

They are often overlooked or thought to be making it up.

So what are the signs of high functioning anxiety?

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A Sense Of Impending Doom

A feeling of dread or doom can be triggered by many things. 

Sometimes it can be a feeling that you are overwhelmed by responsibility, sometimes it's a fear of looming changes in your life, and sometimes it's an overwhelming feeling that something terrible is about to happen very shortly.

One symptom of high-functioning anxiety is that these feelings don't come as infrequently or as briefly as someone without anxiety might experience them. 

If you find yourself constantly worrying about the future or being haunted by the past, especially if these worries manifest themselves in physical symptoms like a stomachache or headache, then this may be a sign that you have high-functioning anxiety.

 Difficulty Concentrating

When you have trouble focusing on the task at hand and find yourself unable to concentrate, it could be a sign of high functioning anxiety.

Or it could be caused by stress, depression, a medical condition like anemia or Parkinson's disease, or even a learning disability.

Inability to Relax Even When In A Safe Place

You may find it difficult to relax, even when you're in a safe place. 

For example, you may feel intense stress while out with friends and family, at work, or while on vacation. 

You may have more difficulty falling asleep than others do because your mind is racing with thoughts of everything you need to do.

You can be constantly worried about your job performance or the way others perceive you. 

While some individuals can unwind by watching television or listening to music, those with high-functioning anxiety are often so uncomfortable that they can't sit still for long enough to enjoy these activities.

Physical Complaints, Such As Nausea And Muscle Tension

I don't mean to be dismissive. I've lived with anxiety for most of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Anxiety can feel like a constant, insatiable pressure—the kind that sometimes makes you want to scream in frustration.

If you've ever felt this way, consider yourself lucky: experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety is a way of life for many people with the disorder.

But not everyone responds to anxiety like this. 

For some people, their symptoms are so severe that they become incapacitated by them. 

This is called high functioning anxiety (HFAs).

It's easy to forget about physical symptoms when we're surrounded by them every day: chronic pain from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome; stomach issues from gallstones; headaches from migraines; bad knees from arthritis; and so on down the line.

But when these conditions take over your life, they affect both your mind and body in ways that are profound and difficult to ignore.

Knowing how to relax your mind and body can help you cope with these conditions more effectively so that you can live without limitations or restrictions imposed by illness or condition.

Trouble Sleeping

  • On average, people need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Some may only need six hours, while others could function well on ten hours.
  • Avoid technology before bedtime—it stimulates the brain and keeps you awake longer.
  • Need to unwind before bedtime? Try a warm shower or bath, meditation or yoga practice, or reading a book in another room. The point is to find something that relaxes you and gets your mind off anything anxiety-inducing that's going on in your life. If it's hard to wind down, try listening to relaxing music or an audiobook at a low volume as you get ready for bed (or do whatever else relaxes you).
  • Don't exercise right before bedtime—it energizes the body and will keep you awake longer. It's best to get your workout done earlier in the day so that by the time evening rolls around, you're ready for some chill time (and maybe a little TV if it helps get your mind off things).

The Restlessness Can Seem Like Hyperactivity or Fidgeting While Sitting Down

One of the most common symptoms of high functioning anxiety is restlessness which can be mistaken for hyperactivity. 

This might look like fidgeting while sitting down or pacing restlessly when you're trying to wait patiently for something.

For some people, this type of movement is a sign that you don't have ADHD. While people with ADHD often fidget excessively, especially when they're bored, anxious fidgeting has more to do with your racing thoughts than with a lack of stimulation.

When experiencing high functioning anxiety, it's common to have rapid-fire ideas and emotions running through your head, so much so that it's hard or even impossible to sit still.

If you try to force yourself to stop moving in order not to be a bother, this will cause even more tension and increase the likelihood that you'll fidget again.

This behavior often comes from an inability to manage stress—instead of consciously acknowledging the things causing stress in your life (such as busy work schedules or family obligations), the mind will unconsciously use those feelings as fuel for navigating the world around you, causing compulsive movement patterns like pacing. 

High Functioning Anxiety Can Be Frequently Overlooked but It Is Something to Take Seriously

 People who have high-functioning anxiety often display their stress through their personality traits. 

The trouble is, these traits don't necessarily seem like a bad thing. 

You or someone you know may be showing symptoms of high-functioning anxiety if they:

  • tend to be perfectionists
  • are overachievers
  • are hypercritical of themselves and others
  • have an all-or-nothing attitude toward many things in life (a tendency toward black and white thinking)
  • tend to self-sabotage when things could potentially go well (this can look like calling in sick on the day of a big job interview)

Conclusion

Living with high functioning anxiety is difficult, but you are not alone

. Many others suffer as anxious people and they have learned coping mechanisms to deal with or overcome their anxiety.

You too can get there. If you think, you might be suffering from high functioning anxiety, visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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May 17th, 2022

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