Approximately 31 percent of American adults will suffer from an anxiety disorder during their lifetime according to the National Institutes of Health. Individuals suffering from high functioning anxiety disorder appear to be able to handle everyday tasks and socially interact with others; however, these individuals experience all the symptoms of anxiety internally, including feelings of fear, increased heart rate, and gastrointestinal distress.
Those experiencing high functioning anxiety are high achieving, busy, detail-oriented, perfectionists. These individuals crave order to help calm their racing thoughts, fears, and worry that overwhelm them. Sufferers tend to dwell on everything and second guess themselves on everything.
They would love to turn their minds off and quit worrying, but the what-if’s of life consume every thought. One would never know what these individuals are feeling because sufferers are typically successful extroverts who love to laugh and smile. However, their anxiety pushes them to do better and achieve more.
When you suffer from anxiety, your mind never seems to stop. Intense feelings of worry require a lot of energy. Sufferers continually worry about what could go wrong, what has gone wrong, and what may go wrong in the future. The continuous overthinking and worst-case scenario can take its toll on the body, spirit, and mind.
What Is High Functioning Anxiety Disorder?
Typically, those suffering from high functioning anxiety disorder are the picture of success. They arrive at work early, are impeccably dressed, and always beat work deadlines. These individuals are always willing to help others and their social schedules are typically full. These men, women, and children are driven and are afraid of failing themselves and others. They have a lot of nervous energy and work hard to ensure that they are successful. Let’s look at the characteristics of a person suffering from high functioning anxiety.
- Outgoing personality – Individual smiles, laughs, tells jokes, and appears happy. This nervous chatter is used to help themselves and others focus on the positive rather than any negative things happening.
- Punctual – Individual always arrives early for their appointments to avoid disappointing anyone or causing any problems. Because the individual arrives exceptionally early for appointments, they can waste time.
- Proactive – Individual plans ahead for all possible issues. They may need things repeated to ensure they have all the information needed to prevent failure.
- Organized – Individual makes to-do lists and keeps a detailed calendar. The sufferer may have an issue with saying no, which causes them to be over commit and pack their schedule.
- High achieving – The individual is successful and works hard to achieve more than others. This person may often compare one’s self to others.
- Detail-oriented – The individual ensures all angles have been considered. Every portion of their lives is orderly and tidy to reduce the what-ifs in the individual’s life.
- Loyal, Helpful and Passionate – The individual is a wonderful friend, co-worker, and family member. They are always there when you need them or disaster strikes. They are afraid of letting their family and friends down or driving people away.
- Nervous habits – Sufferers often bite their lips, count stairs, crack their knuckles, play with their hair, or rock back and forth. They may avoid eye contact. Sufferers may use alcohol or drug to help them cope.
- Outwardly appears calm, cool, and collected – Even during chaotic times, the sufferer appears peaceful and undisturbed. This person can often be difficult to read and appear cold, unemotional, and stoic.
- Fatigue – Individuals often experience mental and physical fatigue. They may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Conditions Associated with Untreated Anxiety
When your high functioning anxiety is left untreated, this can affect memory, your ability to reason, and make decisions. Those with chronic medical conditions often experience worsening symptoms. Some of the most common medical issues facing untreated anxiety sufferers include:
- Cardiovascular problems – The risk of heart attack or stroke is increased in those suffering from anxiety. Heart palpitations are common in anxiety sufferers. High blood pressure can also occur.
- Respiratory problems – One of the common symptoms of anxiety is breathing difficulties. Anxiety suffers often breathe shallowly and rapidly.
- Gastrointestinal issues – Nausea and an upset stomach often go hand in hand with untreated anxiety.
- Drug and alcohol abuse – Anxiety sufferers are at an increased risk of using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
- Headaches – The constant worry and stress can lead to headaches. In addition to this, sufferers often experience aches and pains throughout the body.
- Decreased libido – High functioning anxiety sufferers often have decreased libido. They may be worried about what their partner may be thinking during sex.
- Fatigue – Anxiety takes a toll on the body. The sufferer may experience insomnia and other sleep difficulties.
How Can We Help?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. If you have the symptoms of high functioning anxiety, contact one of our integrative medicine practitioners to see how we can help you improve your quality of life and reduce the effects of anxiety on the body. Our team of professionals uses a holistic approach for treating your anxiety. This includes stress management techniques and supplementation with the goal to improve your overall health and reduce the effects of anxiety on the body. Acupuncture and Homeopathy are also helpful for stress relief.