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High-Functioning Anxiety

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Many of you have probably seen this phrase and wonder what exactly “high-functioning anxiety” really means. This blog is to help answer that question and to maybe identify if you, or someone you know, may be struggling with this.

I chose to write about this topic over 5 months ago. I am just now sitting down to writing it. Want to know why? Because I have High-Functioning Anxiety and kept procrastinating it because I wanted to do it perfectly. I wanted to make sure I said and explained everything correctly. I sat down a few times to write it and stopped myself because I started overthinking it and overanalyzing it. So, not only is this a victory for me, it is therapeutic for me. I hope by the end of this read, you can feel this way too and not feel so alone.

Before we get straight to it, I would like to discuss briefly about “Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).” This is usually what people mean when they say they were diagnosed with anxiety. By being diagnosed with “GAD” below are what constitutes criteria for it. However, there are a few more things are to be considered when being diagnosed (duration, intensity, etc.) but here is just a starting point.

Signs & Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

  • difficulty falling or staying asleep

  • restlessness

  • irritability

  • difficulty concentrating

  • feeling agitated

  • irrational fears

  • excessive worry

  • avoiding social situations

  • fatigue

  • muscle tension

Once someone is diagnosed with GAD, they may notice other symptoms, however, it may be hard to notice or put into words. This is because sometimes High-Functioning Anxiety can be seen as a “good” thing. For example, someone with HFA can be viewed as: outgoing, friendly, organized, loyal, calm, punctual, driven, helpful, detail-oriented, etc. Underneath those traits, there may be lots more going on for that person, that is just what it seen by others. So, let’s take a look at some common traits of High-Functioning Anxiety and what each looks and/or sounds like.

Signs & Symptoms of High-Functioning Anxiety:


Not eating because you don’t have all your ingredients to make your perfect healthy meal.

Hard to take breaks

Feeling like you have to finish a task to its entirety before you take any kind of break, even a quick 5-10 minute break.

Fear of failure

You’ve always wanted to take a yoga class but you are scared to do the poses wrong and in front of everyone.

Extremely early for everything

Anyone ever got to their appointment over an hour early and sat in their car until it was time to go in?? No…?? Just me..??

Feel the need to always be ready

Keeping flip flops in your car just in case you may need them one day, even though they’ve been in your car for over 4 months and you still haven’t needed them yet.

Over-analyzing and over-thinking everything (second guessing everything)

You replay that conversation you had with a friend over and over in your head wondering if you said the wrong thing and if they are mad at you and even questioning if they want to be friends with you anymore. (can be perfectionism also)

Fear of disappointing others

Staying with a company for so long, just because you’ve always been with them, even though, you wanted to switch companies for quite some time now.

Needing lots of praise from others

Constantly asking your supervisor if you did the task correctly, even though you’ve done it several times.


Here’s a great example of this one! I procrastinated writing this blog for over 4 months because I wanted to be perfect at it. I kept putting it off more and more. (Siri, play “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette)

Tendency to overshare

Explaining someone younger than you why you are older than they are while starting the same career.

You feel like an imposter

You’ve been at the top of your class every year in school, but yet, you still feel like you got lucky or faked your way through it.

Negative self-talk

You speak negatively about your work ethic and your job performance because you aren’t your very best one day. You beat yourself up, telling yourself you’re a terrible employee, you are the worst worker, and they should just fire you.

Repetitive habits

Constantly checking the time on your calendar for your doctor appointment, when you already checked it every day for a week.

Thinking worse case scenario

If you have a physical symptom, lets say a dark mole on your arm. You play out the scenario of it being cancer that spread all over your body and starting thinking about your kids not having a dad/mom anymore, and on and on your scenario goes.

*using info-mercial voice*

Do you or one of your loved ones suffer from High Functioning Anxiety??

All jokes aside, most people have experienced one or more of these symptoms. However, when we have several of these symptoms and it takes over our life and our daily functioning, that’s when it becomes a problem. Yes, some of these symptoms can motivate us and drive us to do better, but that doesn’t mean we have to let it consume us. There are ways to treat these symptoms in a healthy way. It’s even possible to eliminate some of these symptoms.

Click here if you'd like to learn how you can be more supportive to someone in your life who struggles with anxiety.

Stay tuned for my next blog when I discuss ways to help manage most of these.

If you relate to this topic and would like to make an appointment, visit my contact page to set up an appointment.


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