As a person with a high-functioning anxiety disorder, I know the difficulties and challenges that this condition causes. What exactly is this condition and how does it affect people?
Let me tell you more about my story and experience…
I wasn’t diagnosed until my early 20s, but I was always a little different than my classmates and friends growing up. I’m always in control, a high achiever, and a perfectionist. Behind the scenes of my life, I constantly over thought every situation and had a tendency to dwell on every little thing that went wrong.
When I was finally diagnosed with high functioning anxiety disorder, it made things much clearer for myself, my friends, and my family. This condition isn’t always well known but it affects thousands of people around the world.
What Is It?
Anxiety disorders are very common and affect about 18% of the population in the United States. While there is not a specific diagnosis of “high-functioning,” many people who have an anxiety disorder fall into a subcategory. People who have this specific type of disorder tend to do well in life. They have successful careers, relationships, and friendships although they have significant anxiety in all areas of life.
People who have an anxiety disorder tend to view the world in a different way than the rest of the population. The most common symptom is experiencing anxiety and expecting the worst even if there is not a specific reason to be concerned. The effect of this stress causes mental exhaustion because their mind really doesn’t ever “turn off.” The intense feelings of worry cause a lot of energy thinking about the worries of the past, present, or future.
When you come across a person who has a high-functioning anxiety disorder, they appear as though they are in control of their lives. However, the confident exterior hides a person who is struggling to make it through every day. It does come out in other ways.
High-functioning anxiety disorder can be undiagnosed for years. People who have noticeable anxiety are usually recognized fairly quickly and then referred to professionals for treatment. High-functioning people have the ability to hide their anxiety from the public.
In very high-stress situations, they can experience a loss of control and shut down or have another type of uncontrolled emotion. There are people who have lived their entire lives without having treatment. It’s best to start seeing a professional early though to manage the signs and symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Management and Treatment
Keep in mind that although you can manage anxiety disorders there is no cure. Many of the treatment options available will depend on your preference and what works best for you. There’s not a one-size-fits-all cure. You may have to try a few different treatment options before you find an effective one.
Examples of the most common treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, meditation, yoga, and coping strategies. You can work with a counselor or therapist to try out specific treatment options. In short time you’ll learn which one benefits you the most.
I found that meditation was one of the most helpful practices for my anxiety disorder. The goal of meditation is to be aware of thoughts and feelings but not reacting to them. Meditation allowed me to see my anxiety and to avoid letting it control my thoughts.
If you or someone that you know suspects that they have a high-functioning anxiety disorder, then seeking out professional help is going to a good first step. You may be able to live a normal and functional life. Still you’re going to be much happier and at peace if you can learn some coping strategies. Taking the first step is one of the hardest ones. Still it’s well worth the time and effort so seek this out if you can.