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How to Identify and Treat Anxiety with High Functioning

June 3, 2024 | by Freya Parker

depressed Asian woman in deep many thoughts, having problem with over thinking

A prevalent but sometimes misdiagnosed disorder, high-functioning anxiety is marked by ongoing concern, tension, and trepidation. Individuals with high-functioning anxiety, in contrast to those with typical anxiety disorders, frequently project an image of competence and success on the outside, concealing their underlying troubles. This article examines the telltale signs and symptoms of high-functioning anxiety and offers helpful management techniques.

Recognizing Hyperfunctional Anxiety

A form of anxiety disorder known as high-functioning anxiety is defined by a recurring feeling of tension and worry in spite of apparent achievements and success. In contrast to other anxiety disorders like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), people with high-functioning anxiety may not have overt symptoms like avoidance behavior or panic attacks. Alternatively, individuals may use productivity, perfectionism, and overachievement as a means of coping with their anxiety, trying to succeed on the outside while experiencing interior conflict.

Symptoms and Indications

Effective management of high-functioning anxiety begins with an understanding of its indications and symptoms. Typical indications could be:

Excessive Worry

People who suffer from high-functioning anxiety may be too concerned about a number of different areas of their lives, such as their jobs, relationships, health, and money.


Two of the main characteristics of high-functioning anxiety are a strong drive for perfection and a deep fear of failing. People can have quite high expectations of themselves and get very upset when they don’t live up to them.


People with high-functioning anxiety may accomplish great success in their academic pursuits, professional ambitions, or extracurricular activities in spite of their anxiety. To make themselves feel better about themselves and get over their nervousness, they could turn to their accomplishments.

Having Trouble Unwinding

People who suffer from high-functioning anxiety frequently struggle to unwind and relax. They could find it difficult to relax and experience persistent anxiety or restlessness.

Physical Symptoms

Although severe physical symptoms such as panic episodes may not be experienced by people with high-functioning anxiety, they can nonetheless appear physically as headaches, muscle tension, insomnia, and digestive problems.

Avoidance of Conflict

People with high-functioning anxiety may steer clear of confrontational situations or speaking their genuine thoughts and feelings out of a fear of rejection or criticism, which can cause interpersonal difficulties.

Techniques for Handling Hyperfunctional Anxiety

A multidisciplinary strategy that tackles the underlying causes of anxiety as well as the coping mechanisms required to reduce symptoms is necessary for managing high-functioning anxiety. The following are some practical methods for handling high-functioning anxiety:

1. Engage in Self-Compassion

For people with high-functioning anxiety to be able to accept themselves and see their value above and beyond their accomplishments, they must learn to be compassionate toward themselves. Engage in self-compassionate self-talk, be kind and understanding to yourself, and confront self-critical ideas with compassion and empathy.

2. Have Reasonable Aspirations

Recognize what is reasonable for both you and other people. Acknowledge that errors are a normal aspect of learning and that perfection is unachievable. Prioritize progress above perfection and acknowledge and appreciate all of your achievements, no matter how tiny.

3. Define Healthful Limits

Establish limits to safeguard your well-being, time, and energy. Learn to politely express your requirements to others and learn to say no to commitments that conflict with your interests or ideals. Make self-care activities that encourage rest and renewal a priority.

4. Use stress-reduction and mindfulness practices

To assist control your anxiety symptoms, make mindfulness and stress-reduction exercises a part of your everyday routine. Deep breathing techniques, gradual muscular relaxation, and meditation are examples of mindfulness practices that can help quiet the body and mind and foster inner peace.

5. Look for Assistance

Seek assistance from loved ones, friends, or mental health specialists. Speaking with dependable people about your difficulties can offer emotional support, perspective, and validation. Joining a support group or going to therapy can help you develop coping mechanisms and efficient anxiety management techniques.

6. Take Part in Frequent Physical Activity and Exercise

Anxiety and mood can be significantly impacted by regular physical activity and exercise. Most days of the week, try to get in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, including yoga, running, walking, or swimming. Exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, which are naturally occurring mood enhancers.

7. Employ Calming Methods

Include relaxation methods into your everyday activities to aid in anxiety reduction and relaxation. Try doing things like taking a warm bath, practicing progressive muscle relaxation, enjoying peaceful music, or pursuing enjoyable hobbies.

8. Disrupt Adverse Thought Patterns

Recognize and address the negative thought patterns that fuel anxiety symptoms. Reframe negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic and optimistic alternatives by using cognitive-behavioral approaches like cognitive restructuring. To monitor your ideas and spot trends, keep a thinking journal.

9. Make Sleep a Priority

Make obtaining quality sleep a priority by adopting healthy sleeping practices. Establish a calming bedtime ritual, a consistent sleep regimen, and a distraction-free, cozy sleeping environment. In order to support the best possible physical and mental health, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

10. Show Gratitude

By concentrating on the positive parts of your life, cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. Every day, list three things for which you are thankful in your gratitude diary. Gratitude exercises can help you see things differently, feel less anxious, and feel happier and more content.

In summary

Although high-functioning anxiety might be difficult to control, a happy and balanced existence can be had with the correct techniques and assistance. You can effectively manage anxiety and enhance your general well-being by identifying the telltale signs and symptoms of high-functioning anxiety, engaging in self-compassion exercises, defining healthy boundaries, setting reasonable expectations, and implementing stress-reduction strategies into your daily routine. Recall that asking friends, family, or mental health experts for assistance is a show of strength rather than weakness. They can also offer helpful tools and direction on your path to recovery.


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