What Is High Functioning Anxiety?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts – I suffer from anxiety. High Functioning Anxiety to be exact. Quite often when I tell people I suffer from anxiety, they’re surprised. Why? Because I’m holding down a good job, I have a great relationship, my own place and a blog that I’m really proud of.

But What Exactly is High Functioning Anxiety?

High Functioning Anxiety is a sub-category under the Anxiety umbrella. People who suffer from High Functioning Anxiety generally identify as functioning reasonably well in their day-to-day life, at least on the outside. The stereotype surrounding mental illness paints those who suffer from anxiety as people who are possibly housebound, cannot hold down a job and struggle to maintain relationships.

The reality is, those experiencing High Functioning Anxiety often present themselves as busy, high achieving and generally on top of things. These characteristics make it harder for those on the outside to identify. A person with high functioning anxiety can appear calm and collected, yet beneath the surface the cogs in their brain are turning at break-neck speed. Your life becomes an uphill battle to keep up appearances.


What are the symptoms?

Everyone is different, but my symptoms manifest themselves like this:

Obsession – I take notions with things and completely obsess over them. Whether it’s a person or a hobby like this blog – I throw myself into it 110% until it completely takes over my life.

Fear – I have a constant fear of disappointing people and letting people down. This tends to show itself when I’m in group situations, when I’m least comfortable. I have a real worry that people won’t like me, so my immediate reaction is to go out of my way to try and make people like me. This usually goes one of two ways:

1. I talk far too much and try to over-compensate for my nerves that way
2. I freeze and try to fade into the background, saying as little as possible

Overthinking – I overthink everything. I overthink things I did or said 10 years ago. I overthink everything I did today. I even overthink things that I haven’t done yet. It’s a vicious circle that is extremely hard to break. It stops you from living in the moment, as you’re constantly waiting for the worst to happen.

Physical Symptoms – I experience chest pain, racing heartbeat, muscle tension and headaches which all tend to show themselves when I’m experiencing a high level of anxiety.

How Do I Cope?

It depends. In the past I have used prescribed medication and attended counselling. Both helped in their own ways but at the moment I’m trying to manage it myself.

High Functioning Anxiety can be life-limiting. There are times where my day-to-day activities are dictated by anxiety. For example, I would choose to stay home and work on my blog instead of going out and meeting new people. Some see that as a negative coping strategy, but I see it as the opposite. By staying in my comfort zone – I limit the levels of stress and panic that I experience and thus my day is more bearable.

Self-care is also really important. No matter how busy your schedule is, it’s important to factor in “me time” as often as possible. You can check out my self-care tips for managing stress and anxiety here.

Why Am I Talking About It?

Mental health is a topic that has always been close to my heart and I want use my platform as a blogger to raise awareness, particularly in relation to High Functioning Anxiety. If more people know it exists then more people can be sensitive towards those suffering from it, often in silence.

If you’re struggling with High Functioning Anxiety, you’re not alone. Talk to a friend, your GP, anyone you trust or a registered mental health charity such as Mind. With the right support in place, it can be manageable.

30 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I loved this post so much. I also suffer from high functioning anxiety and it’s a struggle trying to keep up being so strong & calm on the outside. Really great post; I wish you the best girl! ❤️

  2. I loved your post! It spoke to me on so many levels! I have always suffered from high functioning anxiety but it was never identified until about a year and a half ago, for the reason that
    You mentioned, I didn’t feel like I got into the stereotypical anxiety description I had heard all my life. Thanks for sharing your heart in this post. I also try to bring awareness to mental health on my blog. I think you might like this post on the topic https://www.basicallybeccasue.com/im-fine-just-tired/ plus we have the same theme so maybe we’re meant to enjoy each other’s content ?

    1. Rebecca – thank you so much for your kind words. It is hard to get a diagnosis when you don’t meet the stereotypical description! I just read your post – and I agree that it’s so important to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health so that more people feel that they can come forward and get the support they need. I just followed your blog on BlogLovin’ and subscribed 🙂 I think we are definitely meant to enjoy each other’s content!

      Thank you again for reading x

  3. I exhibit some of these traits and have never really thought about it being a form of anxiety, but that is exactly what it is. It is not debilitating but I constantly replay situations in my head and hold myself accountable for things that happened years ago and cannot be changed. I do obsess over things. I am so lucky to have a great husband and family that helps me remember to relax and breathe and live in the moment.

  4. Thank you for sharing! Some people seem to think that mental health can only fit into certain criteria. Unfortunately, I have had so many people tell me that a person doesn’t really have anxiety or depression because they seemed “normal”. It is so important people continue to share their experiences to bring awareness to others.

    1. Exactly – there seems to be a certain “box” that you have to fit into to be able to say that you have a mental health problem – which is so silly considering how wide the mental health spectrum is!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post x

  5. Thank you for sharing this! While mine may be mild and not diagnosed, I’ve always suffered from mild anxiety and can relate to these on many levels. It’s nice to know there’s support out there.

  6. Thank you for writing such an informative post about your anxiety and how you deal with it. I always love learning more about mental health because there is so much misinformation out there.

    1. You’re right – there will never be enough. It’s such a prevalent issue in people of all ages and we need to do all we can to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. x

  7. This hits so hard to home- it took me years to realize that I wasn’t crazy, I just had anxiety disorder. I’ve been on the fence for a long time about being medicating and hearing other peoples symptoms/stories always makes me think it may be the solution! Thanks so much for the post!

    1. I’m so so happy to hear that you now have a diagnosis – everything gets so much better when you reach out for help, no matter what form it’s in!

      Hope you’re doing ok, thank you so much for reading x

  8. Thank you for being so open about your own struggles with anxiety It’s important to remove the stigma associated with anxiety and other mental health conditions.

  9. I have all these symptoms. I know i have anxiety. .. i even hyperventilate occassionally but scared to go to the doctor about it. Im almost at the point that it feels normal for this constant chest pain.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this – definitely go to your GP they will be able to point you in the right direction for the support you need. Always just an e-mail away if you need a chat 🙂

      Lots of love and thank you for reading xx

  10. LOVE your openness with this…. I have friends that struggle with anxiety and this helps me understand better… love the coping aspect as well.

    1. Thank you so so much for reading. It’s hard to be open about it sometimes but if my mental health posts help even one person, it’s worth it!


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