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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Schildbach

What High Functioning Anxiety Looks Like & How To Seek Help

1. Defining high functioning anxiety

High functioning anxiety (HFA) is a term used to describe people who appear to be successful in their lives, but who also experience persistent and intense anxiety.

While people with HFA may not have all the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, they still struggle with anxiety that interferes with their daily lives. People with HFA are often high achievers who strive for perfection. They may also be people pleasers who have a hard time saying no.

If you think you might have HFA, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. With treatment, you can learn how to manage your anxiety and live a fulfilling life.

2. How does high functioning anxiety present itself?

High functioning anxiety can present itself in a variety of ways, both externally and internally. Physically, people with HFA may experience:

- Muscle tension and headaches

- Rapid heart rate and racing thoughts

- Difficulty sleeping

- Nausea and stomachaches

Emotionally, people with HFA may have feelings of fear and apprehension, always worrying about the future and feeling overwhelmed. They may also experience difficulty concentrating and find it hard to slow down or relax. Some people with HFA may find themselves avoiding relationships, social situations, or other activities in an effort to manage their anxiety.

3. What are some coping mechanisms for high functioning anxiety?

Coping mechanisms for high functioning anxiety can be essential for managing stress. It is important to know your own needs, triggers, and what activities help to reduce your anxiety levels. Here are a few ideas for coping mechanisms for high functioning anxiety:

- Exercise – Physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or biking, can help to decrease anxiety and stress levels.

- Journaling – Writing about your thoughts and feelings can help to better understand and manage your emotions.

- Mindfulness practices – Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other mindful activities can help to improve your self-awareness and give you tools to better cope with your high functioning anxiety.

- Talk therapy – Talking with a therapist can help to identify the potential causes of your anxiety and work on developing strategies to manage it.

- Self-care – Make time to relax and do activities that you enjoy, such as going for a walk, listening to music, reading a book, etc. These activities can help to reduce stress levels.

4. Should you seek professional help for high functioning anxiety?

The answer to this question is yes. High functioning anxiety can be an incredibly difficult condition to manage on your own, and having the support of a professional can be essential for managing your symptoms.

A professional can provide you with personalized advice and guidance tailored to your own needs and experiences. They can help you to develop strategies to recognize and manage your feelings of anxiety and stress in healthy, effective ways. A professional can also help you to challenge the thoughts that might be making it difficult for you to manage your anxiety. Finding a therapist or psychologist who specializes in anxiety and emotional health can be hugely beneficial for anyone struggling with high functioning anxiety.

Kimberly Schildbach M.Ed. MFT LMHC

I'm passionate about helping anyone with anxiety, depression, family of origin trauma (adverse childhood experiences) and relationship struggles learn to set healthy boundaries in their relationships and be okay with who they are. Offering online therapy all across Massachusetts. LGBTQ+ affirming.

Please contact me to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.

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