What is high functioning anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are often known as the most common mental health condition in the UK affecting 40 million adults. While most people with anxiety disorders experience some degree of impairment, some people with anxiety are able to function quite well despite their symptoms. This is known as high-functioning anxiety. High-functioning anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects skilled workers who strive for perfection. Genetics, environment, and personal experiences can all cause high-functioning anxiety.


People with high-functioning anxiety are often highly skilled and intelligent. They may be successful in their careers, but they also tend to be perfectionists. This can make them feel like they have to constantly perform at a high level in order to avoid making mistakes. They may be able to maintain their performance despite feeling anxious or stressed. However, this achievement comes at a cost. People with high-functioning anxiety often sacrifice their personal lives and relationships in order to meet their professional goals.

If you think you may have high-functioning anxiety, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.

What is high-functioning anxiety?

High-functioning anxiety is a mental health issue that can present itself in many different ways. For some people, anxiety manifests as constant worry and tension, even if there is no apparent reason for it. Others may have what is known as high-functioning anxiety, which can be difficult to spot because the person seems to be able to handle everything thrown their way.

Those with high-functioning anxiety may be perfectionists who always strive to be the best at everything they do. They may also be highly attuned to their work environment and feel like they have to be on guard all the time in order to avoid making a mistake or disappointing their employer.

What causes it?

There are a variety of causes of high-functioning anxiety, though it is mainly thought to be a combination of genetics and environment. For some people, it may be due to having a parent or other relative with an anxiety disorder. Others may develop the condition after experiencing traumatic events or chronic stress.

Tips for living with high-functioning anxiety

For many people, anxiety is a constant battle. But for those with high-functioning anxiety, it can be difficult to even realize that there’s a problem. High-functioning anxiety is often characterised by an intense need to be successful and perfectionism. If you’re struggling with high functioning anxiety, here are some tips to help you live a calmer life: 

1. Make time for relaxation and meditation

It’s important to give yourself time to wind down and relax. Meditation can be a great way to clear your mind and ease anxiety.

2. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants

Caffeine can make anxiety worse, so it’s best to avoid it if possible. If you do need caffeine, try to limit yourself to one cup per day.

3. Get regular exercise

Limit social media and watching TV to ensure relaxation or quiet time is built into the busy day. Social media can also lead to further feelings of anxiety or feelings of FOMO so it is important to differentiate how 'social media life' can be perceived, versus real life.

In conclusion, high functioning anxiety is a difficult thing to live with, but it is possible to manage it and lead a normal life. There are many resources available to help people with anxiety, and it is important to seek out help if needed. With the right support, people with anxiety can learn to cope with their condition and lead happy, healthy lives.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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