High Functioning Anxiety

Despite being something very common in the world, with almost 1 in every 3 women presenting with these symptoms, high-functioning anxiety is not easily recognized. Many people are aware of what anxiety is; however, high functioning anxiety is less well known, and because it’s not an official diagnosis, “high-functioning” anxiety is something many people identify with.

When we talk about this concept, the usual symptoms of anxiety that are present include catastrophic thinking, excessive worry and irritability. People who have this type of anxiety can perform daily tasks but get tired very easily and are always on edge

The distinguishing factor of high-functioning anxiety is that people experiencing this may feel the desire to achieve more and do better as a way to manage their worries and fears

If this sounds like you, here are some of the other signs you might be struggling:

  • People who relate to HFA find themselves apologizing for literally everything that one could be sorry for. Many times, one might apologize for things that haven’t happened, things that happened long ago, or even things that are out of your control.
  • A person with high functioning anxiety also usually has a nervous chatter. People think you are an outgoing person when in reality you want to not have an awkward silence. This includes answering questions in class to avoid making the teacher wait in silence, talk in meetings or constantly keep conversation in tense moments.
  • Another frequently mentioned sign of HFA is the need to pick at skin, pull at clothes and play with your hair. Overtime these fidgety habits can actually be detrimental, especially with picking at skin and hair.
  • High functioning anxiety also causes you to second guess yourself and constantly rethink and overthink many elements of your day. “Did I say the right thing?” “Is everything going to be OK?” “Did I make the right decision?” This can be exhausting and even lead to not being able to do anything at all.

Learning mindfulness strategies can be very helpful for those living with high-functioning anxiety as the strategies can help to manage the thoughts and fears. HFA is manageable and once recognized is something that you can overcome

Written by:

Olivia Guerini

Olivia Guerini (BPsych)

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