What is High functioning anxiety?

When we talk abut anxiety, it can look very different for all of us. High functioning anxiety is not recognized as an official mental health diagnosis and the culture of being anxious, stressed out, busy all the time doesn’t help. We thrive as a society to be constable sleep deprived (“I will sleep when I die” mantra), we invite stress into our lives and we try to be busy at all times. It’s in a way our proof to the world that we are worthy, that we are productive, making a change in the world.

In our modern society, we are often told to control ourselves, not to bother others, to be productive, not to show emotions (at work especially). It is hard in such a competitive environment to notice others are actually suffering because there is a disguise that it’s all normal and expected. We are expected to be constantly working, producing, being on top of the game, feeling stressed out to the point of complete burn out. Just because you can’t see from the outside some “obvious” signs that someone is anxious, doesn’t mean that they aren’t.

There are different ways how we can recognize internally and externally a person with a high functioning anxiety.

Externally would be for example:

  1. Being constantly productive (we sometime refuse to think about our life, emotions or to have a reset so we tend to hide behind out productivity)
  2. Cultivate the idea of “being busy” all the time
  3. People who are always willing to do some extra work
  4. Positive people, smiley people hiding in general behind the “fake smile”
  5. Driven people
  6. Overachievers

Internally would be for example:

  1. Overthinking
  2. Incapacity to say “no”
  3. Self-comparison
  4. Low self-esteem
  5. Mental and physical exhaustion
  6. Fear of disappointing others
  7. Neglecting their needs to rest
  8. Fear of slowing down
  9. Need for external motivation