Constantly busy. Perfectionistic. Juggling a hundred different projects and responsibilities. Constantly scanning the future and laying the plans and groundwork for what you want or don’t want to happen. Feeling motivated and pulled forward by the hot energy coursing inside of you. Being described as super Type A. Having a mind that races and obsesses over your to-do list if you accidentally wake up at 4am. Covering up your daily anxiety with overthinking, overdoing, overperforming, over-preparing, over-everything…
These are just some of the ways someone might describe life with “high-functioning anxiety.”
While “high-functioning anxiety” isn’t an actual clinical diagnosis, it’s a phrase that’s become increasingly popular in the past few years and includes a cluster of symptoms that, in my opinion as a therapist, most closely aligns with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a diagnosis that is found within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Affecting roughly 40 million adults, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the United States. And “high-functioning anxiety” may be particularly common for ambitious, young, professional Millennials and Gen-X’ers living in major urban areas.
After all, you’re still getting a tonne accomplished and holding it all together, right? So it’s easy to assume that the kind of anxiety you personally experience may not be a legitimate concern that requires support. But it is.
Indeed, while GAD affects 6.8 million adults – with women twice as likely to experience it as men – only 43.2 per cent of folks are receiving treatment to support it. And this is an issue.
Because the reality is that “high-functioning anxiety,” like any other anxiety disorder, has considerable potential side effects and impacts on your physical and emotional well-being if left untreated. And, like other anxiety disorders, it’s also highly treatable.