High-functioning anxiety isn't a diagnosis unto itself, but many people exhibit signs that they — and some professionals — would consider to be illustrative of a high-functioning version of the condition. Are you ambitious and driven in all aspects of your life, using your fear of failure or falling short as the motivation you need to succeed? That's just one way that high-functioning anxiety can manifest in your day-to-day life. And while it can sometimes be difficult to tell if your anxiety is temporary nerves or something more, there are some interesting traits people with high-functioning anxiety have in common that can help provide some insight into why you might be the way that you are or have the habits or characteristics that you do.
About 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) noted on its website. These disorders are not uncommon. In fact, they're the most common mental disorders in the United States, as the ADAA pointed out, so if you have one, you are far, far from alone. Dr. Lynne Siqueland, PhD, a therapist and anxiety expert at the Children’s and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety, told the Headspace blog that people "doing well" at work, home, and in relationships — even though they're dealing with anxiety — are typically considered high-functioning.
If you're dealing with anxiety, whether you're high-functioning or not, there are things that can be done to address it. And if you have some (or all) of the traits that people with high-functioning anxiety tend to share, you might find that it explains some of what's going on and helps you understand things just a little bit better.
1. You're An Over-Preparer
People with high-functioning anxiety often like to be prepared. Trying to make sure that you're completely prepared for what might come your way can be a comfort. Dr. Seda Gragossian, PhD, the clinical director of Talk Therapy Psychology, told Bustle that because people with high-functioning anxiety worry about things they can't control, they can sometimes compensate by trying to make sure they're prepared for any and all contingencies.
2. You're Self-Conscious
Feeling self-conscious, especially in certain situations, is completely natural, whether you have social anxiety or not. But for people with high-functioning anxiety, they might be worried about the way that people will judge them one-on-one, even if there's really nothing to worry about. Health reported that blushing, feeling a little shaky, or struggling to speak or say what you'd like to say can all be signs of social anxiety.
3. You Overthink Like It's Your Job
Overthinking things is sort of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help you feel prepared and make you confident that you've weighed all your options when making a decision. Overthinking, however, can also be a problem, making it difficult to even make a decision at all, or convincing yourself that you made a mistake or embarrassed yourself when you actually didn't. As the previously-mentioned post from Headspace noted, overthinking is exhausting for those with anxiety — and for them it's a regular occurrence.
4. You're A Perfectionist
You might think that your perfectionist tendencies are just what enable you to be so successful, but there's more to it than that, it can actually have to do with your anxiety. Nicky Lidbetter, the CEO of Anxiety UK told Cosmopolitan UK that those with high-functioning anxiety try to live up to the extremely high standards they set for themselves. Anything less than perfection isn't good enough. Being a perfectionist lets you focus on that, rather on everything else.
5. You Never Say No
People with high-functioning anxiety often struggle to say "no" to things, even when doing so would be in their best interest. Women's Health Australia reported that people with high-functioning anxiety say "yes" to work projects and more because they're scared to let anyone down or disappoint them.
6. You're Always On Time (Or Early)
VeryWell Mind noted that being on time or even early to appointments, meetings, and events is often a characteristic that people with high-functioning anxiety have in common. The idea of letting someone down, not living up to expectations, or failing can be seriously stressful.
7. You're Loyal, Even When It Might Not Be Deserved
It is certainly not a flaw to be loyal to your friends, family members, partner, or even your coworkers or your boss, but it can also sometimes be something that isn't exactly in your own best interest. In the previously-mentioned article, VeryWell Mind noted that some people with high-functioning anxiety are loyal no matter what. Again, you might have a serious fear of disappointing others or being anything less than perfect.
If these traits sound familiar, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're dealing with high-functioning anxiety or an anxiety disorder, but having a conversation with a qualified professional can help you sort out if there's something going on that you might benefit from addressing.
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