The Lowdown of High Functioning Anxiety

By Naseerah Nanabhai

Anxiety is an unpleasant emotion driven by uncertainty; it commonly results in intense, excessive, and persistent worry or fear. These fears usually relate to everyday situations or future events. While a small amount of anxiety is helpful to allow people to anticipate obstacles, remain cautious and stay organised, anything more than that can be a sign of generalised anxiety disorder or, even worse, high functioning anxiety.

High functioning anxiety often goes undiagnosed, as instead of leaving a person frozen in fear, it propels them forward. A person experiencing high functioning anxiety may appear successful, well put together and calm on the outside. But on the inside may be experiencing a whirlwind of worry, stress and over thinking.

Symptoms of high functioning anxiety include excessive anxiety or worry on most days for at least six months, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, being easily fatigued, irritability, muscle tension and sleep problems -with some more apparent than others.

Experts have identified the primary causes of high functioning anxiety due to environmental or genetic factors. At the same time, other reasons include exposure to harmful or stressful life events, certain physical health conditions like thyroid issues, substance abuse, shyness, or nervousness traits from childhood.

When treating high functioning anxiety, the positive characteristics can mask the negative aspects, making it harder to detect.  But once diagnosed, talk therapy appears to be the most efficient way of treating high functioning anxiety. Speaking to a therapist or counsellor can help people understand their concerns and teach them techniques to manage their symptoms better. In severe cases, cognitive behavioural therapy and or prescribed medications are used.

High functioning anxiety can be a double-edged sword. Those who experience it may be afraid to let go, as it feels like a part of their personality. But any manifestations of anxiety are damaging, and you don’t need to be secretly anxious to achieve and succeed.


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