What Is High Functioning Anxiety?

Like most things, anxiety occurs in degrees. It exists on a spectrum, at one end with some people who have absolutely crippling anxiety, and at the other exists individuals who have no anxiety. Somewhere in between these two lies people with high-functioning anxiety. 

But what does that mean? High-functioning anxiety is not meant to minimize your experience, but rather to explain some of the experiences you may have had with your anxiety. In order to learn more about high-functioning anxiety and how it may affect you, keep reading. 

What is the difference between high-functioning anxiety and general anxiety disorder? 

Although high-functioning anxiety is an official term to describe anxiety, it is simply that: a descriptive term. It is not an official diagnosis but rather a way to categorize your anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an official medical condition. 

The difference between the two is how it affects the individual. Think of a time when you have been in a high-stress situation in which your fight-or-flight response has been activated. Did you fight or flee?

Both of these responses are completely valid reactions to high-stress situations and they are very telling about the type of person you are. Someone with GAD will likely flee a situation, whereas someone with high-functioning anxiety would choose to fight the situation. 

When coping with anxiety, a high-functioning individual will push back against their condition and attempt to prove that they are not truly affected by anxiety. Someone with GAD may avoid the situation altogether or crumble from the pressure. 

photo of a woman sitting down with her hands clenched over her lapLearning whether you are high functioning

Believe it or not, recognizing whether you have high-functioning anxiety does matter. Due to the differences between high-functioning anxiety and GAD, there are different pathways in treatment. 

Take a look at your personal history and behavior. Compare yourself to the personality types A and B. Do you view yourself as high-achieving with perfectionist tendencies? Or are you less motivated and more go-with-the-flow?

If the previous statement resonates more with you, then you are more likely to experience high-functioning anxiety. Now, you can effectively research the condition more thoroughly and learn how you fit into the picture. 

Ways to cope with high-functioning anxiety

The good news about living with high-functioning anxiety is that there are plenty of verified coping mechanisms for you to try out. If you believe you are dealing with this brand of anxiety, consider implementing some of the following. 

  • Join a recreation sporting league: Not only is exercise good for your body, but an organized sport is a great way to work on getting out your frustrations! Additionally, it allows you to work towards a fun, harmless victory rather than putting further stress on yourself. 
  • Work on meditation practices: There is nothing better for your anxiety than focusing on being present. Set aside a few minutes a day to focus on your breath or a mantra. You will be shocked at how quickly you will notice a difference! 
  • Begin to forgive yourself: Stop beating yourself up for not performing at the unrealistic level you expect yourself to. Be gentle with yourself! Imagine that you are speaking to your closest friend when you speak to yourself. Would you tolerate the way someone spoke to a loved one the same way you perform self-talk?  

Regardless of the type of anxiety you have, I encourage you to find a coping mechanism that works well for you. Seeking help from a trained professional can be a great way to work through some of your anxious thoughts and feelings.

If you are looking for a therapist, contact me today to learn more about anxiety therapy.  I look forward to meeting you!