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Understanding High-Functioning Anxiety

By Michelle Bassam

Anxiety and depression are often discussed, yet the specific term ‘high-functioning anxiety’ is not as widely understood. Many people deal with this form of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed yet appearing to manage daily life with apparent success. It’s vital to remember that high-functioning anxiety can sap today of its joy and strength without necessarily predicting future sorrows.

The Reality Behind Just “Functioning”

For some, high-functioning anxiety means maintaining an image of success—achieving at work, enjoying social activities, and fulfilling family duties. However, this raises an important question: Is simply getting by enough for true happiness? This condition involves struggling internally while managing to look like you’re thriving on the outside.


The Illusion of Perfection

Those experiencing high-functioning anxiety often embody the image of success. They meet deadlines, dress impeccably, and seem to control life’s chaos. Behind this facade, it can be a real burden, with societal pressures and the role of social media exacerbating the need for perfection. Yet, this pursuit often masks the reality of their mental health challenges.

Recognising High-Functioning Anxiety

Individuals may excel at work, be dependable friends, and maintain seemingly perfect homes—all while battling high-functioning anxiety. These achievements and the appearance of control can hide the true extent of their anxiety.

The Hidden Costs

cracks under the surface, high functioning anxiety

It is not just about striving for excellence; it’s often rooted in fear—fear of failure, making mistakes, and not meeting one’s own or others’ expectations. Understanding the motivation behind someone’s actions can foster empathy and support for those suffering.

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Steps Towards Help

Acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step towards improvement. Seeking help, particularly from mental health professionals, is crucial. It’s also beneficial to reassess personal values, learn to say no, and engage in relaxing activities. These strategies can help manage high-functioning anxiety by reducing the need for constant perfection.


High-functioning anxiety doesn’t have to define you. Recognising it and admitting to struggling with it are important first steps. Reaching out to trusted individuals or a GP can guide you towards effective support and treatments, like therapy or mindfulness, which can lead to recovery.

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Blog Topics: Anxiety & Stress, Common Mental Health

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