The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that anxiety affects 18.1% of Americans annually. Even with such a high prevalence, many people with anxiety disorders go undiagnosed and untreated, primarily due to a phenomenon referred to as high-functioning anxiety. Individuals with high-functioning anxiety experience the same symptoms as those with low-functioning anxiety, but their symptoms do not interfere with daily living.
Anxiety is a natural response to stress that can alert us to danger, keep us attentive, and enable us to respond quickly in emergencies. It can also help motivate us and help us be more prepared for challenges. However, anxiety can also be debilitating. Whether you have high-functioning or low-functioning anxiety, Rose Hill can help. Call 866.367.0220 to learn about the benefits of our anxiety treatment program.
High-Functioning vs. Low-Functioning Anxiety
High-functioning and low-functioning anxiety are not official diagnoses but refer to how people’s symptoms impact their ability to manage everyday tasks and responsibilities. Individuals with high-functioning and low-functioning anxiety suffer from the same types of symptoms. However, those with high-functioning anxiety are more able to suppress their symptoms and not let them interfere with their ability to complete tasks and manage daily responsibilities.
By contrast, individuals with low-functioning have real challenges completing everyday tasks due to worry and fear caused by their anxiety. Anxiety triggers our natural fight or flight response. Individuals with high-functioning anxiety tend to get stuck in the “fight” mode, whereas those with low-functioning anxiety prefer the “flight” mode.
Coping with High-Functioning Anxiety vs. Low-Functioning Anxiety
People with high-functioning and low-functioning anxiety share the same symptoms. The difference is how they cope with their symptoms. When individuals with high-functioning anxiety experience symptoms, they tend to push themselves harder and hustle more. Conversely, those with low-functioning anxiety tend to focus on avoidance or removing themselves from the anxiety-producing circumstances.
- Coping skills or behaviors of those with high-functioning anxiety typically include:
- Fixating on productivity, achievement, and milestones
- Focusing on routines, schedules, and habits
- Seeking control by being an overachiever
- Being a people-pleaser and never wanting to let anyone down
- Having black-and-white or right-and-wrong thinking
High-functioning anxiety also contributes to having nervous tics, insomnia, and physical ailments, including frequent headaches, stomachaches, and gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Coping skills or behaviors associated with low-functioning anxiety typically include:
- Frequent emotional breakdowns or mental shutdowns
- Developing phobias
- Avoidance of particular people, places, or things
- Relying on obsessive-compulsive behaviors to seek control
- Withdrawal from daily life to avoid triggers
While many people view the coping skills of those with low-functioning anxiety as problematic, the coping skills of individuals with high-functioning often receive praise, reinforcing them and preventing people from seeking help for fear of losing control or letting others down.
Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders
There is no one specific cause for anxiety disorders. However, the fact that they run tend to run in families suggests a strong genetic component that likely combines with environmental, psychological, and developmental factors.
While you cannot change your genetic risk factors, you can take measures to influence other factors. Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of a mental health disorder – Having a mental health disorder like depression increases the risk for anxiety disorder.
- Substance abuse – Excessive substance abuse can lead to anxiety disorders and worsen present symptoms.
- Low self-esteem – Social anxiety disorders often arise in individuals who have negative perceptions about themselves.
- Childhood abuse or neglect – Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse or neglect early in life can often cause anxiety disorders.
- Trauma – Trauma and highly stressful or negative life events often result in the development of panic attacks or PTSD.
- Severe or chronic health issues – Constant worry over your health or the health of a loved one can lead to increased anxiety.
If you have any of these risk factors and experience high- or low-functioning anxiety, it’s time to reach out to a professional anxiety treatment program.
Discover the Benefits of Anxiety Treatment at Rose Hill Center
Anxiety, in any form, can lead to other physical and mental health concerns when left untreated. Through the comprehensive, compassionate anxiety treatment offered at Rose Hill Center, you can overcome your anxiety and improve your quality of life. Discover the benefits of anxiety treatment at Rose Hill Center. Reach out to us online or call 866.367.0220.