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This 'High-Functioning' Anxiety Graphic Will Make You Feel So Seen

What do you think of when you think about anxiety? Anxiety does not always look like someone who is nervous, avoids social situations and unsure of themselves. ⁣

Instead, “high-functioning” anxiety usually does not “hold someone back” in fear but actually pushes them forward. ⁣

On the outside, you may see someone who is highly motivated, ambitious and a high achiever. However, underneath these “Type A” personality traits may be intense anxiety that motivates these types of behaviors. ⁣

For example, someone with “high-functioning” anxiety may appear very hard working, overachieve and be motivated. These behaviors however, may be due to an intense fear of failure and fear of being unworthy. They may believe that their worth is defined by their achievements, so if they do not achieve what they believe they need to achieve, this will confirm their fears of being unworthy. As a result, people with “high-functioning” anxiety may find it hard to relax and take time off because they feel guilty. They feel as though they do not “deserve” this time off.


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⁣Many “high-functioning” anxious people may also appear very outgoing and friendly. However, this may come from a fear of being disliked and result in people pleasing. This can make social situations quite stressful, since the person is always on high alert for the possibility of being disliked and thus, may act in ways that are not true to how they really want to act. ⁣

People with “high-functioning” anxiety may also appear very helpful as they take on many tasks. However, this may be a result of having poor boundaries because they are afraid to say no to people. ⁣

Finally, what seems like organization and perfectionism from the outside may come from an intense need for control. Ambiguity is anxiety’s worsts enemy, so many people may be overly controlling to feel safe. ⁣

As I am writing this, I recognize that the term “high-functioning” may be quite stigmatizing. Those who have “high-functioning” anxiety still experience a significant amount of distress. And for those who may not fit the description of “high-functioning anxiety,” know that you are still valued and are trying your best with what you have at this moment.

To see more of Amy Tran’s work you can follow her on Instagram @DoodledWellness.

Header image courtesy of Amy Tran/DoodledWellness