What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

what is high-functioning anxiety

What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

Do you frequently stress about seemingly mundane tasks? Maybe you find yourself obsessing over work deadlines or becoming anxious about getting your kids to school on time. While you are dealing with a steady stream of concerns and racing thoughts, you still somehow manage to maintain your responsibilities and complete tasks without allowing others to see the stress you are under.

If this sounds like you, you might be struggling with high-functioning anxiety. When you find yourself dealing with constant stress, only to hear your loved ones praise you for completing all of your tasks and responsibilities so seamlessly, it can be incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately, this is what it’s like to live with untreated high-functioning anxiety. 

If you deal with persistent feelings of fear, worry, or high levels of stress and continue to meet your obligations, you may have high-functioning anxiety.

What are the Signs of High-Functioning Anxiety?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older every year.”[1]

Some individuals with anxiety conditions display more obvious signs of anxiety, such as physical symptoms of panic attacks and an inability to complete daily tasks due to fear and worry. However, others suffer in silence from a type of anxiety referred to as high-functioning anxiety. Functioning anxiety involves internal symptoms of stress, worry, and fear, while you continue to appear fine on the outside.

From an outside perspective, someone with high-functioning anxiety may appear:

  • Punctual 
  • Extremely organized 
  • Detail-oriented
  • As an overachiever or a perfectionist 

However, high-functioning anxiety causes a variety of internal struggles, such as:

  • Overthinking and overanalyzing
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Intense fear of disappointing others 
  • Self-doubt and low self-esteem 
  • Double-checking the details obsessively to avoid making a mistake or being wrong 
  • An inability to relax even when all tasks are completed for the day 

Which Conditions Can Cause High-Functioning Anxiety?

Dealing with high-functioning anxiety is usually a sign that you are dealing with a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Each of these conditions can cause different symptoms and require varying methods of treatment. 

The conditions that may lead to high-functioning anxiety include:[2,3,4,5]

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)A condition that causes excessive worry and stresses more days than not. The symptoms of anxiety and worry interfere with your ability to function. You must experience symptoms for at least six months to be diagnosed. 
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – A condition that causes anxiety and stress surrounding social situations, such as group gatherings, meeting new people, or speaking in front of strangers. The symptoms of social anxiety disorder may cause people to avoid social settings. 
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) – A depressive disorder that causes intense periods of sadness or worthlessness. May also cause symptoms of anxiety. 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – A condition that causes chronic and uncontrollable recurring and unwanted thoughts coupled with repetitive behaviors to soothe those thoughts.

While a variety of conditions can cause high-functioning anxiety, the only way to know what condition you have for sure is to seek professional support. Licensed psychologists can help you obtain a diagnosis and provide you with the treatment you need to manage your symptoms effectively and regain control over your life.

How to Cope With High-Functioning Anxiety

Living with high-functioning anxiety can be exhausting and lonely. When everything looks fine on the outside, it can be difficult to receive support from your loved ones. As a result, you must learn how to be honest about your feelings with the people you love and yourself. 

There are many ways to cope with high-functioning anxiety, including:


The best way to cope with any type of anxiety is to receive therapy. While you can still manage to complete your responsibilities with high-functioning anxiety, your internal struggles will eventually catch up with you. 

Therapists can help you utilize coping mechanisms to use in times of high stress and teach you how to regulate your emotions effectively, instead of just pushing through and ignoring your mental health. 

Peer Support 

Another way to cope with high-functioning anxiety is to receive support from your peers. You can do this by opening up to your loved ones about your struggles or finding a counseling group to attend. Either way, receiving support and advice from others who understand what it is like to struggle with anxiety can be the difference you need to heal and live a stress-free life.


Lastly, if your anxiety is becoming difficult to cope with, you can try psychiatric medication. The first line of treatment for anxiety is selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications can increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, the feel-good chemical.

While some people remain on anxiety medications long-term, others only use them until their therapy provides them with the relief they need.  

Find Help for Anxiety 

If you or a loved one struggles with high-functioning anxiety, it’s time to seek professional help. At Florida Recovery Group, our mental health treatment program can offer you the tools and support you need to manage your anxiety healthily.

Contact Florida Recovery Group to get started today. 


  1. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Anxiety Disorders- Facts and Statistics, Retrieved August 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Retrieved August 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad
  3. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Social Anxiety Disorder, Retrieved August 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder
  4. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): What is Depression, Retrieved August 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression
  5. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): What is OCD, Retrieved August 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/co-occurring-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-disorder