Could you have high-functioning anxiety? Here’s what you can do to reduce your fear AND continue to stay successful

High-functioning anxiety is not recognized as a mental health disorder, but for those suffering from it, it’s as real as it can get. Based on a recent survey of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 40 million adults deal with anxiety disorder, with approximately 18 percent categorized in the high-functioning anxiety tier.

Moreover, there are even type A personalities who have anxiety. These people are often described as workaholics and perfectionists, but some still identify themselves as someone who might have high-functioning anxiety.

So, what exactly defines and characterizes high-functioning anxiety?

Essentially, high-functioning anxiety describes the feeling of worry, fear, and many other negative things. According to Dr. Jonathan Sikorski, “Typically when I hear people talk about high-functioning anxiety, it means they may have a lot of features of an anxiety disorder without the actual diagnosis.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Debra Kissen, co-chair of the public education committee for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, indicated that many people are walking around with anxiety disorders that are near in meeting the criteria to be medically diagnosed with a disorder.

She added that despite this, “They’re still waking up. They’re still getting themselves to work.”

For people with type A personalities, it doesn’t mean dealing with anxiety is any better. However, the difference lies within their manner of coping with the situation. What differentiates their level of anxiety among others is that instead of being paralyzed by fear, they use their fear as a stepping stone in reaching their goal and succeed.

In other words, their high-functioning anxiety propels them forward. But even though it may seem to be a healthier take compared to those who are crippled by anxiety and fear, health experts have yet to agree on this. (Read: Ease anxiety with meditation and essential oils.)

Health experts recommend cognitive behavioral therapy to treat this condition. However, they make it clear that the goal is not to be dependent on such treatments but rather to learn how to face the problem personally.

Other tools that can help are:

  • Identifying catastrophic thinking and dialing it back.
  • Exposing oneself in small ways to face fears.
  • Recognizing that it is possible to handle more things than you think.
  • Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

For a better understanding of this disorder, here are some of the things people might observe from those who suffer from it:

Positive Characteristics

There are many merits and positive attributes that pertain to a person with high-functioning anxiety. Some of these are as follows:

  • Active – Your social calendar is often full, and you mingle well with various people from all walks of life.
  • Detail-Oriented – You hate missing a single detail, so you usually go through projects bit-by-bit until you’re sure that it is impeccable.
  • Passionate – You put your 100 percent in every project you have, and your passion and determination fuels you to give your best in every task.
  • Punctual – You are always the first to come in on every appointment and meetings. You hate tardiness, and you plan most of the time.
  • Organized – You are a stickler for routine and schedules. You keep track of your calendars and stick by every list.

Negative Characteristics

Despite being highly-functional in many aspects of life, people who have high-functioning anxiety have negative attributes as well. But the thing is, they’re able to mask it well, and most of the time, these characteristics are not seen as a result of the disorder. Here are some examples:

  • Can’t say “no” – You often have this feeling that if you say no, you might be letting someone down, so instead, you always say yes even if it’s half-hearted.
  • Rumination – You tend to dwell on negative thoughts and “What if’s?” and playing all your past mistakes over and over again.
  • Insomnia – You have a hard time falling asleep and is usually awake at night. You also tend to wake up at odd hours and find it hard to fall back to sleep.
  • Nervous Habits – You have odd mannerisms whenever you are nervous, such as playing with your hair and rocking back and forth to contain your nervous energy.
  • Loyal to a fault – You stay in relationships way longer than necessary because you hate change. You are loyal to a fault in relationships and find it hard to let go.

With a rise in people suffering from high-functional anxiety disorder, you are not alone in your journey. The first step is to seek help, so you feel less isolated and get enough support from people who matter.

Learn more about essential matters like anxiety at

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