Anxiety is a natural emotion most people feel. But, just like all emotions, when a person experiences a particular emotion, like sadness, worry, fear, or fatigue, in excess for a prolonged period of time it becomes a problem and a disorder may be present.
Anxiety is felt when there is discomfort or an uneasiness. It can be in relation to an event with an uncertain outcome or it can come on for no apparent reason at all. Some of the signs of anxiety include racing thoughts, excessive worrisome thoughts, rapid heart rate, stomach upset or digestive issues, trouble sleeping, difficulty engaging in everyday tasks and sweating. Anxiety can cause a person to be unable to concentrate and to become irritable. Those who may excessively worry to the point that their anxiety disrupts their daily life are often diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
Many people who have anxiety will go out of there way to not interact with others or engage in certain situations in order to avoid their anxious feelings. They will often create excuses and isolate themselves from the world. Some can become hermits and never leave their homes, but not all people respond to their anxiety this way.
What is High Functioning Anxiety?
Sometimes these anxiety symptoms can be hidden by individuals who have developed the ability to conceal their anxiety in order to complete daily tasks or job duties. These individuals have been categorized as having high functional anxiety. Many people with high functioning anxiety don’t even even realize they have it.
The difference between high functional anxiety and general anxiety is the ability to push down the anxiety symptoms that may be festering inside and being successful at work, home and even socially. These individuals are hard to recognize because they appear to be solid and in control while their emotions are reeking havoc on them internally.
The most difficult part about it is that these signs of anxiety are often hidden.
Positive Aspects of High Functioning Anxiety
While this may not be what you want to hear, the fact is that since anxiety can be a good motivator for success in normal people it does produce some positive characteristic on those who suffer from the disorder.
1. You appear outgoing.
In order to conceal your nervousness, you may talk a lot and seem outgoing at social events.
2. You are detail-oriented.
Because your anxiety causes you to overthink, you tend to pay attention to details and you do indeed attend to every detail.
3. You are usually prepared.
In order to be prepared for all the things that can go wrong, you are prepared and have a plan for every outcome. You are proactive, anticipate problems and you are prepared for them!
4. You’re usually on time.
Those with high functioning anxiety usually are quite organized and use calendars to ensure they are timely and don’t miss things. Being late increases your anxiety, so you do your best to always be on time.
5. You appear calm.
Fear of allowing others to know or judge you has made you stealth in expressing emotion externally. On the outside you usually appear calm and collected.
Negative Aspects of High Functioning Anxiety
While by all outward appearances you look fine and you appear to be in control of your feelings, there are definitly negative effects that your anxiety is producing in your life.
6. You have trouble sleeping.
This includes not being able to fall asleep easily at night, waking up too early and not sleeping well throughout the night. Anxiety can cause insomnia and fatigue.
7. You have trouble relaxing.
You have a hard time chilling out becuase your mind is in overdrive and constant thought. It is really hard for you to relax.
8. Perfectionism plagues you.
Perfectionism is a common symptom for those who suffer with anxiety. They constantly feel like they can “do better.” This feeling that you have to be perfect holds you up in many ways.
9. You have a lot of negative self-talk.
You are very critical of yourself. You are usually engaged in internal negative chatter with yourself that feels almost impossible to quiet down. You tell yourself you aren’t good enough regardless of how good you actually are.
10. You engage in repetitive habits.
Developing repetitive habits is a way to direct the nervous energy that is produced by anxiety. It is also a way to feel more in control.
11. You are difficult for other people to read.
Since your emotions are often hidden, you often appear quiet or emotionless and this can cause issues in your relationships.
12. You may engage in self-medication.
Being anxious all the time is tiring and stressful. You may have found that alcohol or other substances can help take the edge off. It is not uncommon for someone with high functioning anxiety to use self-medicating as a coping mechanism to escape the stress.
13. You have physical symptoms.
This includes symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations and gastrointestinal issues. Even though so many people suffer with these issues nowadays, they are not normal.
What to do if you have high functioning anxiety:
It’s important that you recognize what is normal anxiety versus what is presenting as an anxiety disorder. Fighting through and facing the scary and uncertain is a natural way to combat anxiety. Do understand though that there is a difference between thriving in life and fighting to survive. You don’t have to fight to survive.
Regardless of how well one hides their anxiety, it can be treated effectively in many different ways. Find something that works for you. Options include cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, exercise, controlled breathing techniques, herbal remedies, EFT tapping, medication and countless other treatments. There are so many ways to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Work with you trusted practitioner to formulate a plan of action for you.