Do You Have High Functioning Anxiety?

Does this sound familiar?


You’re watching you son’s soccer game, answering emails and your mind is replaying that conversation you had with your boss this morning. Your daughter asking about dinner and you feel exhausted but if you stop moving both physically and mentally you are not sure if you ever get started again. You are organized, a perfectionist, often friends will call you a Type A or an overachiever as they snicker. You like the tasks done a particular way and if it’s not done that way you may feel physically ill. You catch yourself dwelling on thoughts and when you finally finish your day and flop into bed it’s after midnight. You may joke about “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, “I am unhappy if I am not busy.” Or “There is plenty to do and If I don’t do it who will?”

 The word “NO” is not in your vocabulary

and you often have fears of letting other people down. So, you pile task after tasks on yourself always assuming you can do it and do it better than others.  Your mind will race through thoughts of “ Why did I say that?” Or “How can I get three things done before dinner.”  

You often set you feeling aside or compartmentalize your feelings and you do not wear your heart on your sleeve. You are an in-charge type person and often your friends call your “stoic.”  Inside, however, that is simply not true, your feelings do get hurt but you push them away because you say to yourself “Oh I’m just being a drama queen.”

If you said yes to even a few of these you may be showing signs of high functioning anxiety.

While high functioning anxiety is not an official diagnosis of the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) it can still cause getting through our day very difficult.  High functioning anxiety makes a person feel pushed into accomplishing many activities or the feeling of being driven into action, or pushed. You become overly productive because you are obsessed into action. Often you push your own feelings aside and “pretend” everything is perfect. Sometimes you feel empty inside.

People who experience this type of anxiety are often high-powered executives, business owners, attorneys or other professionals. On the outside these people are often well educated, smart, working two jobs or working 60 to 80 hours a week. They have accomplished many things in their careers and they often have spouses and children. Life becomes unsatisfying as the anxiety increases. There can be physical symptoms too such as nail biting, knuckle cracking or picking at your skin. You may count stairs as you climb just to keep your mind busy.  People with high anxiety are often overachievers and will push themselves to perform at the highest levels.

There is a cost to letting this type of anxiety go unchecked.

The symptoms often become worse under higher life stresses such as a death in the family, loss of a job or friendship, but even positive stresses like marriage, graduation or getting a job promotion can trigger the negative behaviors of overthinking and obsessing over and over again on one idea or statement. High anxiety people hold themselves to impossible achievement standards and when they can’t meet that standard they become depressed.

To combat this anxiety there are a few simple actions you can take to help reduce the symptoms.

1.      Take a deep breath, in fact, take 5 of them. When we become anxious we tend to breathe shallower and therefore, not properly oxygenate our bodies. This simple action can drop your blood pressure by 20 points. The best way to do this is to take 5 deep breaths 4 times a day.  

2.      Take a walk, at least 30 mins a day and yes, every day. Exercise of any type will reduce the nagging anxiety thoughts allowing the mind to feel free.

3.      Reduce caffeine that would include coffee drinks, sodas, and energy drinks. Too much caffeine will hype one up, make sleep more difficult and increase the agitated feelings.

4.      Drink plenty of water. The brain can get easily dehydrated and then make our overall function feel off

5.      Get 6 ½ to 8 hours of sleep a night. Your brain and body need that time to regenerate cells and to process the day’s activities and learning. Without getting enough sleep our brains have a much harder time with memory, focus or problem-solving.

If your high anxiety symptoms get worse or they are not being able to be easily managed it could be time to speak to a therapist for specific help with anxiety reduction. By getting short term treatment, you can increase the quality and enjoyment of your life.



©2017 Central Counseling Services.