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High-functioning anxiety isn’t officially recognized as a clinical diagnosis, but it’s a term many people use to describe feelings of anxiety that exist alongside a high level of functioning in daily life. Individuals with high-functioning anxiety often appear to operate well in various aspects of their lives, achieving success in work and maintaining relationships, but internally, they may be grappling with persistent anxious thoughts. This form of anxiety can be particularly challenging to identify because it’s often masked by notable productivity and engagement. Here are 12 surprising behaviors that might indicate someone is coping with high-functioning anxiety.
Overthinking Minor Decisions
Individuals with high-functioning anxiety may agonize over small decisions, like what to wear or what to eat. This behavior stems from a fear of making mistakes or worrying about the judgments of others, leading to prolonged decision-making processes.
Constantly Checking Emails and Messages
The need to stay connected and respond immediately to emails and messages can be a sign of high-functioning anxiety. It often comes from a fear of missing out on important information or a desire to please others by being perpetually available.
Frequent and unnecessary apologies can indicate high-functioning anxiety. This behavior often reflects a fear of upsetting others, a strong desire for approval, and an overestimation of one’s impact on situations.
Nervous habits like nail-biting, leg shaking, or hair twirling are common among individuals with high-functioning anxiety. These behaviors are often subconscious ways to release pent-up nervous energy.
A tendency towards perfectionism, where an individual sets unrealistically high standards for themselves, is a common trait in high-functioning anxiety. This can result in significant stress, as they constantly strive to meet these standards and fear failure.
Difficulty Saying No
People with high-functioning anxiety often find it hard to say no to requests, as they fear disappointing others. They might overcommit themselves to avoid potential conflict or disapproval.
Over-planning, including creating detailed to-do lists and excessive scheduling, can be a coping mechanism for managing underlying anxiety. It provides a sense of control and preparedness but can become overwhelming.
Difficulty falling or staying asleep can be a sign of high-functioning anxiety. Racing thoughts, overanalyzing the day’s events, and worrying about tomorrow can disrupt sleep patterns.
Avoiding Social Situations
Despite being capable in social settings, individuals with high-functioning anxiety might secretly feel overwhelmed by them and may find reasons to avoid social gatherings.
Need for Reassurance
Constantly seeking reassurance from others about their decisions, work, or relationships can be a symptom of high-functioning anxiety. It reflects self-doubt and a need for validation.
Hyper-Focus on the Future
An intense focus on future goals, often at the expense of present enjoyment, can indicate high-functioning anxiety. This behavior is driven by a fear of not achieving enough and the need to constantly plan for future success.
High-functioning anxiety can also manifest physically, such as experiencing stomachaches, headaches, or rapid heartbeat. These symptoms can arise from constant stress and tension.