Thomas Robinson

21 Behaviors You Might Not Realize Are Connected To High-Functioning Anxiety

High-functioning anxiety is a form of anxiety disorder characterized by intense worry and overthinking but without the social inhibitions typically seen in social anxiety disorder. While people experience it differently, we look at 21 common symptoms experienced by those suffering from high-functioning. 

Constantly Worry and Overthinking

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People with high-functioning anxiety tend to worry excessively about things, both big and small. They may ruminate on past mistakes, catastrophize about future outcomes, and find letting go of negative thoughts difficult.

Being a Perfectionist

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People with high-functioning anxiety may have very high standards for themselves and others, and this can lead to a lot of self-criticism and difficulty accepting mistakes. The possibility of not meeting impossibly high standards can trigger anxiety and avoidance of potential challenges.

People-Pleasing and Seeking Validation

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When suffering from low self-esteem, people might prioritize other people’s needs and wants over their own and might constantly seek approval from others. Putting the needs and desires of others before their own to avoid conflict, gain approval, or maintain harmony.

Feeling Restless

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Restlessness and difficulty relaxing are prevalent symptoms of anxiety, making it hard to unwind and truly rest, even when physically tired. This constant tension can significantly impact people’s well-being and daily life. 

Being Hypervigilant

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Anxiety triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, keeping you alert and scanning for potential threats. This is an evolutionary mechanism designed to keep you safe, but it can become overactive in people with anxiety.

Avoidance Behaviors

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Avoidance behaviors are a common coping mechanism for individuals with anxiety. While they can offer temporary relief in the short term, they can ultimately reinforce anxiety and limit your life in the long run.

Internalized Negative Self-Talk

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Internalized negative self-talk, often referred to as “the inner critic,” is a common struggle for people with anxiety. This constant stream of critical and judgmental thoughts can fuel anxiety, erode self-esteem, and make it difficult to cope with challenges.

Physical Symptoms

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Physical symptoms such as increased heartbeat, rapid breath, headaches, and stomach aches can be experienced by those with high-functioning anxiety. Sleep problems can also be significant problems for people as they impact their ability to function daily.


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Procrastination and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, creating a frustrating cycle. Anxious individuals might overthink tasks, get overwhelmed by potential problems, and strive for unrealistic perfection, leading to paralysis and indecisiveness.

Having Difficulty Saying No

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Difficulty saying “no” can be a significant challenge for people with anxiety, often leading to stress, resentment, and overwhelmed feelings. Doubting your worth and capabilities can make asserting your needs and refusing requests difficult.

Anticipatory Anxiety

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Anticipatory anxiety, sometimes called future-based anxiety, describes the excessive worry and fear that arises in response to an upcoming event or situation. This event can be anything from a significant life milestone like a job interview or presentation to a seemingly mundane social gathering or everyday task. 

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

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People who live with high-functioning anxiety often see things in black and white, with no room for gray areas. This can make it hard to cope with setbacks and mistakes. This extreme thinking amplifies negative emotions by magnifying setbacks and downplaying successes. It can lead to catastrophizing and self-doubt, intensifying anxiety.


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Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion where you focus on the worst-case scenario of a situation, magnifying its negative impact and probability. You might jump to the worst-case scenario in any situation, even if it’s unlikely.

Creating Mental Checklists

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Regularly checking in with oneself through a mental checklist helps people identify situations, thoughts, or feelings that trigger anxiety. This self-awareness is crucial for managing anxiety proactively before it escalates.

The Need for Control

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Anxiety often stems from a fear of the unknown and a desire to avoid adverse outcomes. When things feel uncertain or unpredictable, it can trigger anxiety and a desire to regain control.

Social Anxiety

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Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is a common mental health condition characterized by intense fear or anxiety in social situations. Physical symptoms like blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, or rapid heartbeat in social situations are common. 

Fear of Failure

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Many with anxiety tend towards perfectionism, setting unrealistically high standards for themselves. This can lead to a constant fear of falling short, fueling the fear of failure. Negative self-talk, focusing on potential shortcomings and mistakes, further amplifies this fear.

Being Impatient

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Anxiety often stems from a desire for control and certainty. The inability to control the pace of events or anticipate outcomes can trigger impatience and frustration. Waiting in unknown situations can fuel anxiety due to the lack of control and the potential for negative surprises. The mind might jump to worst-case scenarios, amplifying impatience and the desire for immediate resolution.

Feeling Irritable 

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Anxiety can make it challenging to manage emotions effectively. When overwhelmed by worries or anxieties, even minor frustrations or inconveniences can trigger more robust emotional responses, including irritability.

Having Trouble Concentrating

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Anxiety consumes mental energy, leaving less available for concentration and focus. Worries and intrusive thoughts constantly vying for attention make it difficult to stay engaged with tasks.

Feeling Fatigued

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Fatigue is a prevalent symptom experienced by people with anxiety, often leaving them feeling drained and depleted both physically and mentally. Constant worry and rumination can deplete mental energy and contribute to feelings of exhaustion.

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