Over 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety condition. Anxiety manifests itself in many different forms- from physical symptoms like sweating and trembling to mental effects like feeling tense and nervous. Nonetheless, anxiety sometimes gets an unnecessarily bad rap. Anxiety disorders also have their good sides, from improved productivity to planning well. In this guide, we’ll explore what living with high functioning anxiety is like and how you can make the most out of it.
What is high functioning anxiety?
High functioning anxiety isn’t a recognized psychological condition. Instead, it refers to people who live with anxiety and who identify as functioning well in different parts of their lives.
If you live with high functioning anxiety, it’s likely that fear doesn’t leave you frozen. Instead, it propels you forward to excel. Like other people with high functioning anxiety, you may fit all the definitions of success. You work hard, take care of yourself and have a fulfilling social life. On the surface, you may look like a model of mental health. But society doesn’t see the anxious thoughts and struggle that lies beneath.
If you are a person with high functioning anxiety, you probably suffer from racing thoughts and other symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), along with a fear of disappointing others or failure. This can then create a range of different problems the person usually feels compelled to conceal.
Check out this TEDTalk on what it’s like to live with high functioning anxiety:
Pros and cons of living with high functioning anxiety
Living with high functioning anxiety often brings both positives and negatives. The positives can include:
- Feeling energetic and sociable
- Being detail-focused and helpful
- Excelling at hard work
- Being helpful
- Living in neat and tidy conditions
- Being passionate and proactive
Unfortunately, these are often balanced with negative characteristics. Although you may be high functioning, you may also face:
- Nervous ticks (biting your nails, knuckle cracking, etc)
- Unhealthy thought patterns (focusing too much on past mistakes, etc)
- Fear of saying no to people
- Difficulty eating
- Mental exhaustion
- Potential for substance abuse
In the worst case scenario, you may find yourself in unhealthy situations and relationships because of your relentless desire for success or your fear of failure. But in the best case scenario, you may experience some of the amazing advantages that come with this condition. Let’s look at a few now:
Advantage #1: You stay busy
Having anxiety can actually be motivating and inspiring. Feeling anxious about paying the bills, eating healthy or being a good parent can be positive motivators to work hard. You are likely to stay busy and see great successes in life as a result. The key is to channel the energy into positive motivation.
Advantage #2: You shoot for perfection
People with high anxiety tend to be perfectionists. Why? Achieving a sense of perfection reduces anxious feelings. If this is one of the advantages you experience, it’s important to recognize that it can become a double-edged sword. Having unattainable standards can cause even more anxiousness, creating a never-ending cycle.