What is High Functioning Anxiety? | Symptoms and Treatment

What is High Functioning Anxiety? | Symptoms and Treatment

Unlike other anxiety disorders, high-functioning anxiety is not recognized as a formal mental health disorder. Instead, it’s used as an umbrella term by people who live with anxiety but consider themselves to be high-functioning in different aspects of their lives. But what is high-functioning anxiety, then? Is it real? Today we’re going to explore the symptoms of high functioning anxiety and whether it’s as serious as medically accepted anxiety disorders.


High Functioning Anxiety Definition

Over 40 million adults in the United States (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder, and 7% of children between the ages of 7 and 13 experience problems with anxiety every year. Most people even develop symptoms before they are 21.1

Of these, some consider themselves to be high-functioning. Regarding mental illnesses, high-functioning is a term used to describe those living with a mental illness that isn’t easily noticeable by others. People with high functioning mental disorders can have a steady job, keep up with their studies, have good hygiene, and even maintain healthy relationships.

But what is high functioning anxiety? Although it isn’t acknowledged as a formal mental health disorder, people with high-functioning anxiety may struggle with anxiety but can function well in their day-to-day lives.

A person with high-functioning anxiety may seem put together, calm, and organized on the outside, but they may feel completely different on the inside. Oftentimes, these individuals struggle with overthinking, the constant need for reassurance, and believing that others think poorly of them.


High Functioning Anxiety Symptoms

Any high-functioning mental disorder is going to be difficult to identify if you aren’t aware of its signs. Someone with high functioning anxiety, for instance, might be the picture of success.

They’re that one person who always gets to work early and is the last one to leave. They’re always on top of their tasks, and they’ve never fallen short. They may always be willing to help and do whatever it takes to get the job done.

What others might now know about people like this is that beneath this seemingly perfect surface is a person who struggles with needing to feel accepted, perfect, and in control. They may fear rejection or disappointing others. Their nervous energy, fear of failing, and fear of letting others down may have been the driving force of their success.

Although there’s no substantial research on high-functioning anxiety and how it affects people, anecdotal reports allow us to understand that people with this condition may present the same symptoms of anxiety but on a milder end of the spectrum.


With that said, some common signs of high functioning anxiety include:

  • Feeling the need to please others all the time (afraid of driving people away, being offensive, or letting others down)
  • Talking a lot or “rambling” when you’re nervous
  • Nervous habits or fidgeting, such as playing with your hair, cracking your knuckles, biting your nails)
  • The need to do repetitive things (rocking back and forth)
  • Overthinking
  • Arriving too early for appointments or work
  • Frequent need for assurance (checking on others frequently or constantly looking to others for direction)
  • Procrastination followed by long periods of undistracted work
  • Avoiding eye contact with others
  • Rumination or frequent tendency to dwell on negative thoughts (a lot of “what if” thoughts)
  • Inability to say no, which contributes to an overloaded schedule
  • Poor social life from always turning down invitations
  • Racing mind
  • Inability to “enjoy the moment” (being unable to relax and be in the present or expecting the worst possible outcome)
  • Frequently comparing yourself to others
  • Mental and physical fatigue


People with high-functioning anxiety may also display symptoms that are believed to be positive in our society, such as having an outgoing personality, being punctual, being organized, being proactive, being detail-oriented, being passionate, and more. But all of these seemingly positive things can be manifestations of a real problem.


High Functioning Anxiety Treatment

Have you ever wondered, “do I have high functioning anxiety?” Does this sound like you? Do you identify with any of these symptoms? If so, then you might need help.

Having a high functioning mental disorder can be difficult. You may feel as if you’re able to continue managing this kind of lifestyle, but at what cost?

This condition may feel like a part of your personality. You think of it as the thing that helps you succeed and keep up with your job, school work, or other responsibilities. But there are healthier ways to succeed in life without struggling with anxiety underneath it all.

Whether it’s high-functioning anxiety or any other mental illness, our South Florida luxury rehab can help. Seaside Palm Beach offers a variety of mental health programs in Florida that incorporate therapy options ranging from animal therapy to holistic treatment to help patients cope with their symptoms.

Our inpatient anxiety treatment includes individual and group therapy to help you identify the symptoms and contributing factors of your condition. Our specialists also dedicate time to teaching patients valuable and realistic coping strategies for managing their symptoms.


If you or someone you know needs treatment for high functioning anxiety, call our Palm Beach luxury rehab today at 561-677-9374 to learn how to get started.


Related Reading:

How Does Anxiety Affect Sleep?



  1. NAMI – Anxiety Disorders

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