High-Functioning Anxiety – What is it, Causes and Treatments

High-Functioning Anxiety – What is it, Causes and Treatments

Often we think of an anxious person as someone who struggles to perform daily chores and is constantly worried and stressed. However, we usually forget that anxiety can show up in different ways. While sometimes it may mask its symptoms, other times it might appear as a panic attack. The least we can do is try to be empathetic towards someone who carries the burden of anxiety on a daily basis. 

High functioning anxiety cause treatment

An Overview

About 18% of the total population that suffers from anxiety disorders falls under high-functioning anxiety. 

Living with anxiety is debilitating. It can worsen physical and mental health, professional life, personal life, and simply the way a human being functions from day to day. However, a person with high-functioning anxiety appears content and successful on the outside but suffers from stress, concern, worry, and intrusive thoughts internally. 

In high-functioning anxiety, people experience a fighting response to their anxiety, where they are able to work hard by putting themselves together, despite their anxiety. The masked anxiety symptoms, however, can make it difficult for others to understand the struggles and efforts the person goes through on the inside. 

High-Functioning Anxiety – Symptoms

High-functioning anxiety is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), hence limited knowledge is available regarding the anxiety disorder. Those who suffer from high-functioning anxiety have disguised and less-obvious signs of anxiety. Their symptoms are mostly internal. Some of the symptoms of high-functioning anxiety include- 

  • High achiever
  • Easily irritated or annoyed
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Detail oriented
  • Excessive anxiety 
  • Overthinking and overanalyzing 
  • Anticipatory anxiety 
  • Inability to relax
  • Highly organized 

Although high-functioning anxiety, in the short term, does not appear to affect the life of the person suffering from it, in the long term, the symptoms of high-functioning anxiety can worsen leading to depression. 

What Causes High-Functioning Anxiety?  

It can be caused due to several factors and some of them could be: 

  • A family history of mental conditions or anxiety disorders.
  • An experience with an adverse life event.
  • Children with traits of shyness and nervousness are at a higher risk of suffering from it.
  • Substance abuse or misuse of drugs 
  • Other health issues like heart problems or thyroid issues. 

As there is less information available regarding this type of anxiety disorder, the causes of the disorder are still half-known. 


Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is one of the best ways to mitigate anxiety symptoms. Getting in contact with a therapist can help them understand their symptoms and techniques like breathing and meditation can help alleviate them.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective for patients to help manage their symptoms by controlling and changing their thought processes. It helps confront the anxious thoughts in a much better way. 

Apart from the therapies, medications are also a possible way to treat this anxiety. Medications like benzodiazepines, buspirone, and beta-blockers can also be used to treat anxiety symptoms.  

When Should You See a Doctor? 

High-functioning anxiety, when left untreated, can lead to depression making it even tougher to handle daily tasks for the one suffering from it. Not seeking professional help can result in irritability, sleep and eating disorders, and difficulty managing day-to-day tasks. If you think that your anxiety is overpowering you and is an obstruction between you and healthy life, then you must seek professional medical help.

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Author: Mansi GuptaApart from being a graduate in English Literature, Mansi is a knowledge freak who loves to wade through the pages of almost all types of books. Watching outside the windowpane and brewing stories are some of the hobbies that make her an extremely introverted personality. Writing isn't just a passion for her but a survival force that keeps her dragging through the absurdity and existentialism of life. She started writing in her school days. She writes articles concerning health, lifestyle, fashion, sexual awareness, and feminism. Currently, when physical and mental health deteriorates incessantly, she wishes to create awareness through her articles about its indispensability.