Those of us with anxiety consider this mental health disorder as a part of who we are. We adjust our lifestyles to accommodate this condition so that it doesn’t negatively impact us more than it already has.
Along the way, we find such strong coping mechanisms that we can develop high functioning anxiety. While those of us with this heightened sense of anxiety crush it on the regular, high functioning anxiety symptoms can still get the best of us.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting help for high functioning anxiety.
What is High Functioning Anxiety?
High functioning anxiety is an unrecognized mental health condition, as it’s lumped into the same category as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). With at least 19.1% of the human population diagnosed with GAD, millions might have developed high functioning anxiety.
Those who experience high functioning anxiety showcase many of the same symptoms of GAD. That’s because people might have GAD, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), or depression long before they learn to apply the pressure in a way that benefits them.
Those with high functioning anxiety become anxious in situations where they’re expected to excel. It’s like an actor ready to take the stage. They’re sweating bullets, nervously repeating lines in their head. Then, they hear the cue and voila! The actor is in character and slaying the scene.
What is the Difference Between Anxiety and High Functioning Anxiety?
There isn’t a cut-and-dry and answer for, “what is the difference between anxiety and high functioning anxiety?” That’s because high functioning anxiety isn’t an official medical diagnosis.
This term came to fruition because cases of anxiety went on the rise, and people developed skills to cope. Not only do some of us deal, but we go beyond anybody’s expectations.
What Is It Like to Have Anxiety?
The major difference between anxiety and high functioning anxiety is that anxiety can be crippling. Confrontation, work presentations, and social situations can cause a person with GAD to tense up, shut down emotionally, or lash out irrationally.
Anxiety hits us in many ways. There’s the ever-growing dread leading up to a specific event, conversation, or vacation. Those moments tend to ramp up the daily chatter of insecurities in our heads.
During those times, we’re prone to things like:
- Panic Attacks
- Biting Nails
- Racing Heart
- Lack of Focus
Those with anxiety disorders can become paralyzed by their condition. It can cause them to withdraw from social situations, lose interest in activities, and hurt their climb up the corporate ladder.
What Is It Like to Have High Functioning Anxiety?
High functioning anxiety symptoms mirror many common symptoms of anxiety disorder. Those of us with high functioning anxiety have racing thoughts that are riddled with self-doubt, too. We fight twice as hard to shut those voices up when we’re expected to perform.
When someone develops high-functioning anxiety, the pressure isn’t as visibly crippling to the world. Even if it feels like there’s a 20 million ton weight in the middle of their throat, a person with high functioning anxiety will somehow present their ideas clearly, get that touchdown, or ace that test.
Leading up to those moments can be strenuous. The nerves of not letting yourself or others down can really get to you. In these instances, it’s common to experience stomach pains, blood pressure changes, and shifts in body temperature.
Once the moment is over, there is a feeling of adrenaline. You know you succeeded. Performing outside of your expectations gives you a moment of hindsight.
That’s where you can nitpick your “weak” moments or “fails.” Through those moments we truly grow.
Unfortunately, someone with anxiety might dwell far too hard on these little blips. They might kick themselves and cloud the bigger picture.
Differences Between Anxiety and High Functioning Anxiety Post-Stress
This post-party-work meeting-first date experience tends to feel different for someone with high functioning anxiety than a person with GAD. If someone with high functioning anxiety applied themselves and succeeded, there is a feeling of elation, a moment of reflection, and an opportunity for growth and improvement.
An overwhelming majority of people with GAD get in their own heads. While some can push through and make an experience tolerable, others can’t get over their anxious thoughts.
For many, the post-presentation-family reunion-holiday shopping spree can still be a negative experience. They aren’t always able to relish in any of the positives and then constructively critique the negatives for potential growth.
Those who have high functioning anxiety are probably used to more “wins.” So, they manifest more of these victories.
Anxious people who grow to expect the worst tend to experience the worst. When you start to see the little victories, they tend to add up to bigger ones in time.
Pros and Cons of High Functioning Anxiety
High functioning anxiety is the ability to compartmentalize your anxiety in the moment. You’re able to draw on it as a catalyst to ignite your flame. However, those who play with fire can get burned.
Many consider having high functioning anxiety as a gift. Unfortunately, such gifts can wear down your mental psyche. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of high functioning anxiety. That way, we can find the right balance in the middle!
Pros of High Functioning Anxiety
High functioning anxiety can become your superpower if you learn how to channel the energy correctly. However, high functioning anxiety symptoms can be rather intense. Learning how to use that negativity in a positive manner takes self-awareness and practice.
Signs of high functioning anxiety that have a positive effect may include:
- Successful Career Trajectory
- Big Circle of Friends
- Strong Organizational Skills
- Key Eye for Details
- Proactive with Plans and Work
- Clearly Defined Goals
A person with high functioning anxiety knows what they want and has a good idea how to get there. That’s because they spend a considerable amount of time weighing the pros and cons of these situations.
Here lies a significant difference between anxiety and high functioning anxiety. Let’s take a job review, for example. Pretend you need to do a self-evaluation and come up with your annual goals in two days.
People with high functioning anxiety have an easier time seeing the long-term picture and can communicate their goals more clearly. They are more likely to finish their self-evaluation before a person with GAD.
Someone experiencing GAD might be stressed out imagining a year down the road. Stress causes people to procrastinate.
This person is more likely to hand in their self-evaluation at the very last moment. They’re also more likely to undersell their positives and give less thoughtful responses.
Cons of High Functioning Anxiety
While high functioning anxiety sounds like a pleasure, it can be exhausting for a person. The need to succeed can chip away at things that give them joy.
They’re far too invested in the outcome. In the end, they can become more angry and moody than a person with GAD.
Signs of high functioning anxiety that have a negative effect may include:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Never Saying “No”
- Internal Pessimism
- Panic Attacks
- Shutting Down Emotionally
Many high functioning anxiety symptoms can exasperate typical anxiety symptoms. Eventually, what made you highly functioning can become what brings you down. So, it’s essential to keep your anxiety in check.
High Functioning Anxiety Quiz
As it is, anxiety disorders are underdiagnosed. So, the number of cases of high functioning anxiety is unknown. However, there are many common signs of high-functioning anxiety.
If you answer “yes” to at least 5 of these questions in our high functioning anxiety quiz, please consider speaking to a professional.
- Do you experience broken sleep or no sleep more than twice per week?
- Have you experienced shortness of breath, dizziness, or a tight chest in a high-pressure moment?
- Do you worry about the future multiple times per day?
- Do you feel anxious when the spotlight is not on you?
- Are any of your behaviors repetitive?
- Do you cut people off when they speak to ask questions?
- Do you have trouble remembering other people’s names?
- Do you feel like there’s never enough time in the day?
- Do you get aggravated when someone diverts your attention from a task?
- Do you put work before family and friends?
- Must everything in your house be spotless?
- Do you lose patience moving up the ladder at a job?
- Do you voluntarily work overtime without much thought about compensation?
- Would people describe you as happy even though you’re not?
- Are you the planner in the group?
This high functioning anxiety quiz is by no means meant as a diagnosis. It’s just a way to get you thinking introspectively about your mental health. That way, you can become proactive before it potentially consumes you.
Help for High Functioning Anxiety
High functioning anxiety can be a double-edged sword. Life is about balance. We can’t keep pushing our anxious boundaries without expecting a little push back. Here are some tips that might help for high functioning anxiety.
No matter where you are on the spectrum, anxiety is anxiety. So, you need to keep those overexcited neurons calm. One of the most efficient and cost-productive ways to achieve this balance is through yoga and meditation.
Both practices help bring down cortisol levels. Cortisol is our fight-or-flight instinct. Along with adrenaline, these stress hormones cause us to dread (and push through) pressure-filled situations.
Those of us with high functioning anxiety can be our own worst enemies. We try to be everything to everyone, and it leaves us as nothing to no one.
Agreeing to do too much leaves us void of energy and more anxious than ever. Learn how to say “no.”
“No” isn’t just for family and friends. Don’t check emails after work hours. Stay off social media when you’re with loved ones. Be present!
It’s hard always being the one in charge. So, stop. Let others take the reins once in a while.
Be upfront about the physical toll that being the plan maker can be. Task someone else to book the weekend getaway. Have mom bother your brother next weekend to clean up her lawn instead of you.
Also, learn to go with the flow. As an anxious person, we need to know every detail about any trip, event, or restaurant. Try showing up for once and experiencing something for what it is.
Of course, letting go like this will take practice. Make sure you’re with someone you feel comfortable with and who is aware of what is it like to have high functioning anxiety.
Allow Yourself to “Fail”
Notice the “fail” in quotes. There is no real “fail.” Everything is a learning opportunity. So, open yourself up to learning.
Those of us with high functioning anxiety have Type-A personalities. We want the job done right, so we do it ourselves.
What do the following have in common:
They all equal 50! If you lived your whole life saying the only way was 50+0, you’d miss out on 49 other great opportunities to achieve the same thing. You never know what else you’ll unearth if you step outside your comfort zone and allow yourself the chance to fail.
The key to managing high functioning anxiety is balance. Supplements are the bridge to help maintain that fine line.
When our brain is firing on all cylinders, we burn through a lot of neurotransmitters. The ones that we are producing are being used to promote focus and cognitive performance. However, they’re not tending to our emotional needs.
So, once we burn through the useful neurotransmitters that are helping us be productive, we’re left feeling empty and anxious. All that’s left is cortisol and a long night ahead.
One of the best all-natural supplements to help high functioning anxiety is Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene. Tranquilene contains GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps counteract cortisol and adrenaline effects. This formula is further enhanced with L-Theanine, an amino acid derived from green tea.
L-Theanine helps promote GABA production. However, as a green tea derivative, L-Theanine also promotes the focus that people with high functioning anxiety crave. You get these benefits without the jitters of caffeinated tea.
Additionally, Tranquilene contains essential vitamins, such as B-Complex and Vitamin D3. These minerals are required for many neurological processes. However, the body doesn’t create all of these vitamins. So, Tranquilene helps alleviate that physiological stress.
Function with High Functioning Anxiety
Anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving your goals. You must learn how to develop coping mechanisms that allow you to be present in the moment. Take these experiences and apply what you learned to grow as a human.
Now, there can be too much of a good thing. High functioning anxiety can start to have a negative impact on your life. You must find a way to balance the pros and cons.
With meditation, living in the moment, and all-natural supplements, you can biohack your anxious brain. You’ll be able to control your impulses and apply your anxiety to drive you towards a cool, calm, and collected self!
- High functioning anxiety can push you to strive for excellence
- A person with high functioning anxiety tends to be a perfectionist and goal-oriented
- Left unchecked, high functioning anxiety symptoms can worsen
- Setting up boundaries, meditation, and all-natural supplements can be great help for high functioning anxiety