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What is High Functioning Anxiety?

High functioning anxiety is a specific type of anxiety. Although there are many of the same features as other types of anxiety, individuals who have high functioning anxiety look and feel a little different. Here are some common symptoms of it:

a woman sitting at the table exhausted from high functioning anxiety
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People with high functioning anxiety are often extremely hardworking. On the outside, they look driven, successful, and ambitious. However, inside, their work ethic comes from fear of being a failure and/or letting others down. They do have the qualities listed above, but they find it difficult to slow down or relax as their anxiety propels them to keep working and keep up their image.

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People Pleaser

Many people with high functioning anxiety have a difficult time speaking up for themselves. Confrontation makes them anxious and they don’t want to say no. They often ended up taking on tasks and favors for others because they would rather inconvenience themselves versus disappoint others. This usually leads to resentment and frustration. Individuals with this type of anxiety are often known for being helpful and selfless, which only adds to their anxiety about saying “no.” Boundaries are really difficult for them and they struggle with being assertive.

a woman lying on the bed with anxiety
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High functioning anxiety, like typical anxiety, can include a lot of overthinking and replaying past situations over and over again. People who fall into this category tend to go over things they have done/said, what they wish would have happened, and their worst fears about what may/may not happen. This can lead to issues with sleep and focus.

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Nervous Energy

Experiencing nervous energy is a symptom of high functioning anxiety. Individuals with this type of anxiety often have trouble relaxing. They are always on the move, engaging in one task after another. When they try to relax, they find that their mind races and they work to distract themselves with chores, social media, or work/school.

man in front of mirror with self esteem issues
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Self Esteem Issues

Because they struggle so much internally with their own thoughts and feelings, people with high functioning anxiety often have lower self esteem. They feel that their image doesn’t match up to how they see themselves and they often feel like an imposter. They struggle with their identity and often aren’t sure who they really are. Individuals with this type of anxiety have insecurities that can be difficult to overcome.

a man sitting at the table working hard to manage high functioning anxiety
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In Summary

High functioning anxiety can be really difficult to cope with and is not often recognized due to the success of the people who experience it. Speaking as an online therapy for high functioning anxiety in North Carolina, I can share that many clients with this type of anxiety often have trouble validating their own emotions and recognizing that they do need and deserve therapy. If you relate to any of the symptoms above, you may want to talk with a therapist to learn how to cope with these symptoms and gain control over your life again.

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