What is High Functioning Anxiety? Holistic Doctors Explain

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It is very difficult to find information (studies, statistics, etc.) specifically on high-functioning anxiety. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals do not even classify it as a mental illness.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is known as the bible of mental health. You will see by reading this text that it does not recognize high-functioning anxiety as a mental disorder (1). Therefore, it is mixed into all anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Let’s dive into what holistic doctors classify as high-functioning anxiety and how it differs from generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

High Functioning Anxiety


In its simplest terms, anxiety is a (constant) feeling of nervousness, fear, worry, panic, and irritability. It stems from not feeling good enough, fear of not getting things done on time, and other issues you are stressing or feeling self-conscious about. Essentially, anxiety causes someone to think they’re always doing something wrong, they need to do better, or they’re not doing enough. Both kids and adults can suffer from anxiety.

For some people, anxiety is overwhelming; it can interfere with sleep and concentration. More deeply, anxiety can inhibit social interactions, relationships, work performance, and other areas of life. There are prescription medications such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) that help treat anxiety and depression. SSRIs increase the availability of serotonin in the brain (2).

Social anxiety disorder is anxiety in social situations, whereas generalized anxiety disorder can affect all aspects of someone’s life.

High-Functioning Anxiety

The name high-functioning anxiety tends to speak for itself. Maybe you know someone who has anxiety because it’s obvious through their actions and words. For others with anxiety, you will not notice they suffer from it at all. Many people with anxiety seem to function extremely well in their job and social interactions, complete tasks on time, and can handle overwhelming projects.

Or, can they? Integrative, holistic doctors believe that high-functioning anxiety is simply anxiety that someone hides well. It is very easy to believe that if someone perceives not to be struggling, they are not, right? This can be the case with high-functioning anxiety. Someone may be deeply struggling with constant panic, worry, and fear (a racing mind) throughout their entire day, but they may hide it well. While this person is getting done everything on time, smiling, and friendly, they may have a deep inner turmoil.

High Functioning Anxiety Symptoms and Signs

Sometimes anxiety is hard to spot, but there are patterns in people with high-functioning anxiety.

  • Over-achievers or perfectionists
  • Extremely organized
  • Easily agrees with everything from the fear of saying no
  • Overthink everything
  • Active all the time; never sit still

Do you think you are struggling with high-functioning anxiety? If you struggle with any of the signs below daily, it is time to seek professional help.

  • Do not sleep throughout the night; have trouble falling asleep
  • Constant racing mind
  • Overanalyzing even the smallest details
  • Always thinking you’re not liked or wanted
  • Perpetual need for reassurance from others, even for the tiniest thing
  • People pleaser; always want to make others happy when you are not

It has been found that 40 million U.S. adults deal with anxiety disorders and about 18% have high-functioning anxiety (3). Learn more about the signs and symptoms of high-functioning anxiety here.

Get Anxiety Support at CentreSpringMD

Do you feel that you are suffering silently from high-functioning anxiety? Your anxiety can be stemmed from genetics, health issues, or other factors. The first step is recognizing you are not alone. Atlanta’s top integrative and holistic medical center, CentreSpringMD has the mental health services you need and deserve.

Feel free to explore our patient resources. Learn more about our center and what we do to help our patients achieve complete physical and mental health and wellness.

Schedule an in-person appointment or virtual consult today with one of our expert integrative or holistic providers for you or your child. You will receive an in-depth appointment with a licensed medical professional who will get to know you better and most importantly, get to the root of your anxiety. Then, therapy and treatment options will be discussed such as cognitive behavioral therapy, nutrition, counseling, and more. Get started now.


1. https://psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554406/

3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder



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