Anxiety is a common human emotion that can manifest in various forms and intensities. While some individuals experience overt and debilitating anxiety symptoms, others may have signs of high functioning anxiety, which can be challenging to identify.
High-functioning anxiety often goes unnoticed because those who suffer from it appear perfectly capable and composed on the surface. However, beneath the facade of success and achievement, high-functioning anxiety can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional well-being.
So lets take a look at five of the most common signs of high-functioning anxiety to help you recognize it in yourself or someone else.
Signs of High Functioning Anxiety
One of the hallmark signs of high-functioning anxiety is perfectionism. Individuals with this type of anxiety constantly strive for excellence in everything they do, setting impossibly high standards for themselves. They are often driven by a fear of failure or rejection, which fuels their need to be flawless in their work, relationships, and daily activities.
While the pursuit of excellence can be a positive trait, the relentless pursuit of perfection can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. People with high-functioning anxiety may experience overwhelming pressure to meet their own unrealistic expectations, leading to feelings of frustration and inadequacy.
2. Overthinking and Ruminating
Another common sign of high-functioning anxiety is persistent overthinking and rumination. These individuals tend to overanalyze situations, replaying conversations and scenarios in their minds repeatedly. They worry about the future, dwell on past mistakes, and often struggle to live in the present moment.
The constant mental chatter can be exhausting and lead to anxiety-related physical symptoms such as tension headaches, muscle aches, and difficulty sleeping. Over time, chronic overthinking can hinder decision-making and impair cognitive functioning.
3. Avoidance of Conflict
People with high-functioning anxiety often go to great lengths to avoid conflict and confrontation. They fear conflict will disrupt their carefully constructed lives and lead to negative outcomes. As a result, they may avoid difficult conversations, suppress their feelings, or put their own needs aside to keep the peace.
While this may temporarily alleviate anxiety, it can lead to resentment and an unhealthy pattern of suppressing emotions, which can have long-term consequences on mental health.
4. Physical Symptoms
High-functioning anxiety is not just a mental and emotional experience; it can also manifest in physical symptoms. These may include frequent headaches, gastrointestinal issues, muscle tension, and even panic attacks. Because individuals with high-functioning anxiety often try to conceal their inner turmoil, these physical symptoms may be the only visible signs of their distress.
It’s essential to recognize that these symptoms are often the body’s way of signaling that something is amiss and needs attention.
5. Chronic Fatigue and Burnout
Constantly striving for perfection, overthinking, and avoiding conflict can take a toll on a person’s energy levels. Individuals with high-functioning anxiety often push themselves to the limit, juggling numerous responsibilities without taking time for self-care.
This chronic state of high alertness and hyperactivity can lead to burnout and extreme fatigue. Despite their accomplishments, they may feel drained and overwhelmed, struggling to find joy in their achievements.
High-functioning anxiety affects many individuals. It can be challenging to identify because those who experience it typically excel in many aspects of their lives. But recognizing the signs of high-functioning anxiety is crucial for early intervention and support.
With the right support and coping strategies, individuals with high-functioning anxiety can learn to manage their symptoms and lead healthier, more balanced lives. So find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you or someone you care about find some inner peace.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.