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  • Writer's pictureDr. Julia

Living with High Functioning Anxiety

You may be living with high functioning anxiety and not even know it. Learn the signs of high functioning anxiety and how to address it.

Those living with high functioning anxiety will come across as ambitious, successful, and confident.

While people living with high functioning anxiety often are in fact ambitious and successful, they lack confidence in themselves, struggle with self-doubt, and experience significant symptoms of anxiety that interfere with their focus and productivity.

Many people struggle silently with high functioning anxiety because they are not aware they have it, even if they know something is not right.

Learning the characteristics and symptoms of high functioning anxiety is a great way to better understand why you have been struggling so you take action and take charge of your life, now.

living with high functioning anxiety

Living with High Functioning Anxiety: The Characteristics

It’s helpful to identify the common symptoms of high functioning anxiety.

Many live with high functioning anxiety without realizing it.

Once you understand the symptoms and how they apply to you, you can better understand why you have been struggling so you can address it and change your life.

Here are some common characteristics and signs of living with high functioning anxiety:

High Stress and Anxiety Symptoms

People living with high functioning anxiety are likely to experience a large number of stress and anxiety symptoms due to activation of the nervous system.

Anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing uncomfortable physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, muscle tension, and other physical symptoms that can interfere with our focus and productivity.

Poor Focus, Attention, and Memory

The more activated the stress response, the more likely that we are also going to experience decreased attention, focus, and memory.

In order to retain information, we need to be attentive. If stress or negative thoughts are negatively impacting our attentional abilities, we are less likely to remember information.

Decreased attention and other impacted cognitive abilities can cause people to work longer hours in a more distracted state, rather than working efficiently and having time for other things in their lives.

Poor Sleep

There is a strong link between anxiety and poor sleep. When we are anxious, we are more likely to have an active body and mind.

To fall asleep, we need to be calm and relaxed. Those with high functioning anxiety often struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep until their desired time in the morning due to racing thoughts, overthinking, or overactivation of the nervous system.

When we don’t sleep well, stress and anxiety are further increased, which leads to decreased focus and energy and higher irritability.

Procrastination/Avoidance of Tasks

A common feature of high functioning anxiety is procrastination and avoidance of tasks. When people are doubting themselves, think the task is too hard, or fall into perfectionistic expectations of themselves, they are less likely to start tasks.

Procrastination or avoidance of these tasks increases stress further and leads individuals to finally address the tasks at some point, but under a high level of anxiety.

People will often put off tasks until the last minute, resulting in missed sleep, high stress, and sacrificing other aspects of their personal lives when living with high functioning anxiety.

Low Energy and Fatigue

Because people with high functioning anxiety are likely to experience poor sleep, self-doubt, and frequently overextend themselves, they are more prone to struggle with low energy and fatigue.

This in turn makes it more difficult to be productive in their day, leading to more stress and self-doubt.

7 signs of high-functioning anxiety

Negative Thinking Patterns in Living with High Functioning Anxiety

A large part of high functioning anxiety includes negative thinking patterns that interfere with confidence, performance, and overall efficiency.

Common thought patterns associated with high functioning anxiety include:

1) All or Nothing Thinking

This thinking style involves thinking in black or white ways.

You might think that you are either a success or a failure, or are perfect or messing up everything.

Fear of failure is a large characteristic of high functioning anxiety

2) Perfectionism

People with high functioning anxiety often have unrealistic, perfectionistic expectations of themselves.

Because these expectations are often unrealistic or vague, they cause a high level of stress and anxiety.

These expectations can also create a high level of self-doubt since individuals are expecting things from themselves that are not reasonable or well-defined.

3) Mind Reading

high-functioning anxiety burnout

Those with high functioning anxiety are likely to predict what others are thinking about them.

Because these thoughts tend to be negative in nature, this can cause high anxiety and self-doubt.

4) Overthinking/Overanalyzing

A symptom of anxiety in general, and especially high functioning anxiety, is overthinking and ruminating. People will often think about the same problem repetitively without a solution or path forward.

They will often engage in unhelpful thinking about the future as well. They are more prone to "what if" thinking, which often involves worst-case scenarios about the future or themselves.

5) Self-Doubt

People with high functioning anxiety often doubt themselves and can be very critical of themselves.

Despite success, they are likely to doubt themselves and their abilities, further increasing stress and decreasing productivity.

6) People-Pleasing

People with high functioning anxiety often tend to struggle with people pleasing tendencies.

They will often overcommit or say yes to things that are not in their best interest due to fear of others thinking negatively of them.

They are likely to struggle with saying no to others, especially in the workplace.

High functioning anxiety test

Addressing High Functioning Anxiety

Because many are not aware that they have high functioning anxiety, they do not seek helpful treatment.

The good news is, there are many treatments for high functioning anxiety that can help you build your confidence, procrastinate less, and improve your overall wellbeing and life satisfaction.

High functioning anxiety is highly treatable. You don’t have to struggle with self-doubt, distractibility, and poor sleep any longer.


High functioning anxiety is highly impairing to individuals who experience it. Although they may look organized and efficient on the outside, they often struggle internally, leading to negative impacts in various areas of their life.

If these symptoms and signs apply to you, take action so you can stop the struggle with high functioning anxiety, for good.


Sick and tired of high functioning anxiety getting in your way? My Master Stress Method will help you take control of your life and boost your confidence, energy, and efficiency.

I’ve helped hundreds of professionals just like you, and I can’t wait to help you next.

Book a discovery call so we can talk about how to take charge of your life.

-----About Dr. Julia

Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.

I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.

My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.

My Master Stress Method has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity, fast.

I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)


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