One of the issues I see plenty of here in my Aberdeen clinic is High Functioning Anxiety. The oil and gas downturn in the local area has created a significant amount of stress and anxiety, which sets the scene for this type of anxiety disorder.

It’s a condition that can affect anyone, no matter what your background or job situation. It’s also one that often goes untreated for some time, largely because the very nature of High Functioning Anxiety means that it’s not always fully recognised by sufferers themselves.

Here’s what to know about High Functioning Anxiety and whether you (or someone you know) could be experiencing it.

High Functioning Anxiety in a nutshell

You may look fine on the outside but in reality, it’s a major internal battle to survive the day.

You can do what you need to do at home and work and you’ll often be perfectly competent in relationships and social situations too.

It’s usually the case that you’ll still engage in things that you know will cause you anxiety whereas for many people, anxiety will encourage them to avoid triggers and their functioning is much lower as a result. This can include scary situations such as presentations, meetings and public speaking.

In this sense, you’re “high functioning” and may appear confident, successful and even calm but inside, you’re struggling with the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety disorder.

Some of the typical characteristics of someone with High Functioning Anxiety include:

  • A positive, upbeat personality (you’ll often across as someone who is smiley and “happy”)
  • Punctuality (you’ll generally make sure that you’re ahead of schedule and early for everything)
  • Proactive, detail oriented and organised (you tend to plan ahead and have lists for everything)
  • Drive and passion (you give 100% in everything)

To the outside world, these may seem like positive characteristics but for the most part, they’re masking a huge amount of anxiety.

Alongside this, you may also demonstrate some of these characteristics:

  • An overly full plate and/or social calendar (largely because you’re scared to say no to invitations or opportunities or let people know)
  • Going above and beyond with trying to please other people
  • Struggling to get to sleep or waking up frequently during the night and not being able to go back to sleep easily
  • Comparing yourself to other people and feeling that you come up short
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion

The problem with High Functioning Anxiety

High functioning anxiety often isn’t officially recognized as an anxiety disorder – mostly because you’re still functioning to a high standard and anxiety isn’t having a noticeably debilitating effect on your day-to-day life.

It’s not just other people that can be fooled by the ability to function well … even sufferers themselves can fail to recognise that they have an anxiety disorder and this can mean that the situation continues for years before treatment begins.

Often, this is because people have an image in their mind of what anxiety looks like and this tends to involve a low level of function, including struggling to hold down a job or maintain healthy relationships or friendships and avoiding trigger situations. Not ticking these type of boxes for an anxiety disorder can result in significant delays in getting support.

Recognising that you’re affected by High Functioning Anxiety is a big first step to getting back in control and making positive changes that will stop the internal battle.

Are you struggling with anxiety? Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help to tackle the root causes of anxiety and provide you with effective coping tools. Contact me today to talk more about how we can work together to overcome anxiety!