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How to Cope With High-Functioning Anxiety

You seem to be achieving your goals and living the life you want. But inside, you are plagued with relentless fear and overwhelming worry. These symptoms may mean that you can benefit from some help to learn how to deal with high-functioning anxiety.

What Is Anxiety?

Before we talk about how to deal with high-functioning anxiety, let’s take a moment to discuss both “regular” anxiety and the high-functioning version.

The term anxiety refers to a category of mental health conditions that are characterized by excessive fear and worry. Examples of disorders in this category include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Specific phobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder

The primary differentiators among anxiety disorders are the circumstances that trigger the onset of symptoms. 

For example, people with social anxiety disorder may experience symptoms at the thought of speaking in front of a crowd or being in another situation where they may be judged by others. 

In the case of specific phobia, symptoms are usually tied to an animal, location, or experience, such as spiders, heights, or going to the dentist.

People who have GAD or panic disorder may experience symptoms at any time, with no apparent cause. GAD symptoms are primarily psychological, while the symptoms of panic disorder also include lightheadedness, chest pain, inability to catch one’s breath, and other distressing physical sensations.

What Is High-Functioning Anxiety?

The intensity of anxiety disorder symptoms can undermine a person’s ability to live a full, productive, and satisfying life. They can cause people to change their behaviors, avoid certain people or situations, refuse promotions at work, or even refuse to leave their house. Some people resort to substance abuse in a misguided attempt to deal with these symptoms.

Other people who live with anxiety are able to maintain what appears to be a happy and successful life. They may do well in school, make steady progress in their careers, and maintain healthy relationships. These people may be described as having high-functioning anxiety.

Outwardly, it can look like these people have figured out how to deal with high-functioning anxiety. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by their symptoms. As we’ll discuss in the following two subsections, living with high-functioning anxiety can be far from a pleasant experience.

Signs of High-Functioning Anxiety

High-functioning anxiety can be difficult to detect. But certain signs and symptoms can reveal that someone is struggling. 

People who have high-functioning anxiety may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • They are high achievers.
  • No matter how well they do, they are never satisfied with their performance or results.
  • They expect perfection from themselves.
  • They are obsessive about checking and re-checking even small details.
  • They work long hours, often starting early and staying late.
  • They tend to overthink things.
  • They have a deep-seated fear of disappointing other people.
  • They seem incapable of relaxing.

Effects of High-Functioning Anxiety

Though people with high-functioning anxiety may appear to be “living the dream,” the truth is that they may be in considerable distress. 

The longer a person endures this disorder without learning how to deal with high-functioning anxiety, the greater their risk can become for negative effects such as:

  • Strained relationships with friends, family members, partners, and colleagues
  • Developing depression or another co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Abusing and becoming addicted to alcohol or other drugs
  • Pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion and/or burnout
  • Medical problems due to poor self-care
  • Persistent guilt and shame
  • Suicidal ideation

How to Deal With High-Functioning Anxiety

If the signs and effects we just discussed sound familiar to you, it may be time to make some changes in your life. Here are a few tips for how to deal with high-functioning anxiety:

Talk to a Friend

Isolation can turn small mental health challenges into major problems. If you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, something as simple as expressing your concerns out loud to someone you trust can make a world of difference.

Practice Self-Care

Follow a healthy diet plan. Incorporate physical activity into your daily schedule and get an appropriate amount of sleep every night. Just as important, treat yourself with the kindness that you extend to others. Remind yourself that your value is not defined by your accomplishments. 

Avoid Substances

Substance abuse can offer temporary respite from stress, pressure, and other difficulties. But drinking or using other drugs does nothing to solve the problems you’re having, and may make things much worse. 

Get Professional Help

If your struggles are the result of a mental health disorder, professional anxiety treatment may be necessary. Depending on the nature and severity of your symptoms, you may benefit from both medication and therapy. Getting help isn’t a sign of failure or weakness. Instead, it is evidence that you have hope for a brighter future and the strength to do what it takes to make this hope a reality.

Find Treatment for High-Functioning Anxiety in Georgia

If you have been struggling with high-functioning anxiety, please know that help is available. When you get the care you need, your life can improve significantly. 

Peachtree Wellness Solutions is a respected provider of personalized residential and outpatient care for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area whose lives have been impacted by high-functioning anxiety and other mental health concerns. At our center, you can receive customized services and compassionate support from a team of skilled and dedicated professionals. Don’t let high-functioning anxiety continue to diminish your quality of life. When you choose Peachtree Wellness Solutions, you can find your path toward a healthier and more hopeful future. Visit our admissions page or call us today to learn more.