There is a difference between high functioning anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Both conditions are complex in nature so make it difficult to tell which you are experiencing.
Knowing how to recognise the differences between the two conditions can enable you to help manage your symptoms better.
What is high functioning anxiety?
High functioning anxiety can be best describes as a form of anxiety that affects a person negatively. A sufferer will be constantly looking to achieve a high level of perfection in life and in everything they do.
Quite often people with high-functioning anxiety can be those who are high achievers and are seen to be doing extremely well in their life or career.
The symptoms of high functioning anxiety
In most cases, those suffering from high functioning anxiety will be able to mask their condition very well. It can make it difficult to spot or diagnose in highly-driven people.
However, there are some commonly shared behavioural clues that you can look out for should you suspect someone you know is experiencing high-functioning anxiety.
Such symptoms can be:
- A person that is always on the go. Their behaviour can be driven by constant worry that prevents them from being able to wind down and relax.
- Someone who is overly-critical of themselves. Even if the person is a high achiever and has accomplishments to be very proud of, they constantly find fault with themselves and seek reassurance from others about their worth.
How to identify high-functioning anxiety in yourself
High-Functioning Anxiety can manifest itself physically and mentally. If you feel yourself constantly overthinking issues and dreaming up lots of ‘what-if’ scenarios, or feel like you are constantly on edge and holding your breath even though there may be nothing obvious to be worried about, these can be signs.
If you are experiencing sleep issues, elevated heartbeat, tight muscles and physical twinges, these can be signs to indicate that you are suffering.
When you are continuing with your everyday life while at the same time constantly experiencing these symptoms, it may seem to you like this is your normal state and will prevent you from reaching out for help to manage your anxiety issues.
The difference between High-Functioning anxiety and GAD
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition that sufferers will experience constantly. You can wake up in the morning and instantly feel overwhelmed with feelings of worry and anxiety. These feelings hinder your ability to function at a normal level or to be able to complete simple tasks.
These anxious feeling stay with you all day long and you can go to bed at night feeling the same way. This can interfere with your sleep and make you feel both mentally and physically tired. You are in a constant state of worrying about your worries.
On the other hand, those suffering from high-functioning anxiety will try their best to push away their worries and fears by setting and achieving high targets at work and in their personal life.
These people will actively avoid addressing their anxiety by keeping themselves busy and distracted by becoming completely absorbed in achieving their goals.
Both conditions are similar in their characteristic feelings of anxiety and having anxious thoughts, but sufferers will deal with their issues in completely different ways.
Managing high-functioning anxiety
There are some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help manage this condition. Getting regular exercise, reducing caffeine drinks and adopting an effective wind-down and sleep routine can all help to reduce anxious thoughts.
Talking with someone about your issues and worries can also be of great help. Undergoing Brain Working Recursive Therapy (BWRT) or other effective therapies can be of great benefit to sufferers.