Tag: Mental Illness

What is High-Functioning Anxiety

What Is High-Functioning Anxiety?

Affecting 40 million Americans every year, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in adults in the United States.

High-functioning anxiety is a term that has come to be applied to people living with anxiety while still managing to function somewhat normally in their day-to-day lives.

In fact, in many cases high-functioning anxiety can, on the outside, appear to be exceptional drive and competence. However, this success masks the underlying issue that all is not well on the inside.

What high-functioning anxiety can look like

What high-functioning anxiety can look like

Anxiety is a bit of a shapeshifter, and the symptoms can present differently in different people. One of the reasons that people with high-functioning anxiety tend to fly under the radar is that the signs of their anxiety can look like the positive characteristics that healthy, well-functioning people have. These include:

  • Being social and outgoing
  • Making plans ahead and showing up on time
  • Being highly organized and detail-oriented
  • Being proactive and anticipating problems before they occur
  • Leading an active lifestyle and being of service to others
  • Appearing unruffled and able to handle stress
  • Achieving success both professionally and socially
  • Being loyal in relationships


This drive and ambition is not motivated so much by achievement as it is by a fear of failure. No matter how high they may climb professionally or personally, people with high-functioning anxiety have difficulty enjoying their success, and it comes at a great personal cost.

High-functioning anxiety can also give rise to symptoms that are noticeable but are dismissed as mere personality quirks. These include:

  • Having a hard time saying no to people (i.e., people pleasing)
  • Talking quickly and engaging in “chatter”
  • Exhibiting nervous habits, such as nail biting
  • Engaging in repetitive actions, such as counting steps or tapping feet
  • Having difficulty making eye contact
  • Dwelling on negative thoughts and “catastrophizing”
  • Feeling empty and not being able to enjoy the moment
  • Checking things multiple times (e.g., “Did I lock the door?” “Did I turn off the stove?”)
  • Alternating between periods of procrastination and frenzied productivity
  • Being vulnerable to turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with the anxiety


It’s also common for people with high-functioning anxiety to simply hide these symptoms and put up a facade of a person who has it all together.

What high-functioning anxiety can feel like

What high-functioning anxiety can feel like

Although it can come with some social rewards, such as professional success and a reputation for being resilient and competent, living with high-functioning anxiety is a challenging and often painful way to live. That outward success comes at a steep personal cost, and it’s one that prevents people from enjoying a calm, relaxed life.

It is also extremely isolating, since the sufferer often doesn’t want other people to know what they’re experiencing, so they keep their difficulties to themselves. People with high-functioning anxiety are skilled at hiding, and this is also a very damaging way to live. It prevents people from showing their true selves and making authentic connections with others.

If you struggle with anxiety, you may be able to relate to some of these experiences:

  • You have put considerable effort into creating a “false front” that masks your true feelings and you can’t imagine revealing them to anyone.
  • You try to push your feelings down, with the intent of facing them later on, but there never seems to be a good time to start tackling your issues.
  • The people in your life would be surprised to learn that managing anxiety is a daily battle for you.
  • Your anxiety is a huge factor in your decision-making. You engage in activities that help you quiet your overwhelming thoughts (including using alcohol or other substances) rather than pursue things you’re truly interested in.
  • On some level, you know that your anxiety is diminishing your life and keeping you within narrow limits.
  • You can accomplish what you need to do to keep your work and home life running, but you don’t step outside your routines and the thought of trying something new is extremely intimidating.


Why people avoid seeking help for high-functioning anxiety

Help is available for high-functioning anxiety. However, there are many reasons why people who are struggling don’t seek help.

Here are some of the thoughts that may have stopped you from getting help:

You don’t want to lose out on the “benefits” of your anxiety

High-functioning anxiety can often have positive outcomes in your life, such as a fast-tracked career. You may worry that your work performance will drop or your social life will suffer if you don’t keep up your current level of vigilance.

You feel ashamed

Reaching out for help feels like a failure or an admission of wrongdoing, so you avoid doing it. You may also worry that no one will believe you or support you because you’ve never spoken up about your difficulties before.

Your anxiety has become normalized

If you’ve been living with anxiety for a long time, you may have come to believe that your struggle is normal and is something that everyone experiences. You may also think it’s simply the price you pay for success or that you just handle stress differently than other people.

You don’t fit the culturally accepted idea of an unwell person

You may believe that having a job, a home, and a social life means that you can’t really be in need of help. You may also believe that you don’t deserve help because there are other people who are having a more difficult time than you.

You don’t have to manage alone

Because of their desire to maintain a calm and collected persona, people with high-functioning anxiety often try to manage their anxiety on their own. This often doesn’t work and leads to more self-blame, which can actually increase their level of anxiety.

It’s also the reason why many people turn to alcohol, drugs, or other activities that help numb the discomfort of anxiety.

If this sounds familiar, know that you don’t have to go it alone. You can receive the help and support you need to change your life.

What to do about high-functioning anxiety

There are many ways that you can start to heal your anxiety. Changes in your mental and physical habits can have a meaningful impact on making life more manageable and enjoyable.

Ways you can help yourself

Ways you can help yourself

Whether or not you are currently seeking professional help, you can start using these tips right away to help reduce your anxiety.

  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Establish a regular sleep routine (however, if racing thoughts are keeping you up, get up and occupy yourself with other things until you feel tired)
  • Do deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises
  • Devote a little bit of time (10–15 minutes) every day to improving your mental health
  • Bring gentle awareness to your thought patterns (such as making negative and fearful predictions about the future) and consider how they may be impacting your moods
  • Actively choose to redirect unhelpful thoughts to more realistic or helpful ones (i.e., “I’ve managed this successfully before and I can do it this time, too”)


Seeking professional help

If the symptoms described above resonate with you, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. Your doctor can help provide you with support and resources to reduce your anxiety. Many people find that reaching out to a medical professional provides a significant amount of relief and is the turning point in changing their life.

If you do receive a formal diagnosis with an anxiety-related disorder, rest assured that there are many reliable treatment options available to you, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness training, and prescribed medications.

Even if you don’t receive an official diagnosis, these treatment options may still be useful to you. Many people find that a combined approach to treatment, which includes therapy, mindfulness, and medication, is highly effective at treating their anxiety.

Tikvah Lake Recovery-lakeside recovery

We’re here to help

The health, well-being, and success of our patients is our top priority at Tikvah Lake Recovery.

We want to help you achieve a solid and enduring recovery, which is why we work with you to create a highly individualized treatment program tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

Our dedicated team of professionals is experienced in treating a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety.

For more information about how we can help you or your loved one, contact us today.

Is mental health illness actually a spiritual sickness

Is mental health illness actually a spiritual sickness?

“Psychiatrist” derives from the Greek words psukhe meaning “soul” and iatros meaning “healer”. So “psychiatrist” actually means – and originally meant when it was first used around 170 years ago – “soul healer”.

Yet so much of 21st Century mental health treatment focusses only on the mind. Could it be that one of the reasons rates of what are known today as mental health problems have increased so dramatically is because we ignore the spiritual aspect of being a person?

As renowned motivational speaker and one of the world’s bestselling self-help authors Dr Wayne Dyer put it: “We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.”

Since the Industrial Revolution started in Europe in the 18th Century, the Western world has put increasingly less emphasis on spirituality. Nations and their people look to the material world as a reason for living and the way to happiness.

But striving for material gain has led to much more pressure and stress in life. Now, for instance, it is a necessity that both partners work full-time whereas until relatively recently that was not the case.

Power of Connection

Power of Connection

In a recent talk entitled The Power of Connection, physician, trauma expert and author Dr Gabor Maté said: “There are mental illnesses that develop originally really as compensations against stress and trauma.

“Now we have the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product. This is how we measure success. It’s how much wealth.

“In a materialistic society, we measure success by the possession or the control or the production of matter, of materials. It’s materials that matter.

“But is that really the true measure of a human society? Well, it’s one measure.

“But is it a true measure of a successful society? Can a society be called successful because it produces, controls or owns more matter than some other society?

“An equally important measure, at least as important measure of a society and culture, is to what degree does it meet human needs? How well does it promote healthy human development and to what degree and ways does it undermine it?”

Maté talks about disconnection caused by our modern Western system playing a major part in both physical and mental illnesses. Connection with others can be seen as a spiritual aspect of the human condition.

Feeling disconnected from others is a major part of many mental health illnesses, including conditions such as addiction and depression. We live in a world today that despite us being more connected than ever before through technology, there is often less actual connection.

A large part of recovery is about restoring connection. That is to other people – but also for the person seeking help to reconnect with their true selves.

Spiritual matters

In the past century, science has also risen as a more powerful force of reasoning than spirituality. The fact is proof of something is easier to believe if we can see it.

But spiritual matters often cannot be directly seen. Although spiritual people will say the consequence and effect of spiritual things can be seen everywhere.

They might liken it to television signals. Nobody can see the movie traveling from its source but you can see it on your television screen.

Many people connect spirituality to religion. But there are also many who are not part of any religious group who live spiritual lives.

In fact in the Alcoholic Anonymous “Big Book” chapter entitled “We Agnostics” it is all about this and says: “Something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics.” This was written in the 1930s when church-going and a spiritual life was much more the norm than it is now.

So AA membership today – estimated to be more than two million people worldwide – is likely to have an even larger percentage who identify as atheists or agnostics when they start the Twelve Steps recovery program.

Step Twelve of this program says: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…” Therefore, the point of the Twelve Steps is to have a “spiritual awakening” – this is what has been shown for more than 80 years now to help people formerly considered by most doctors and psychiatrists to be hopeless cases.

That is not just those addicted to alcohol, but also to drugs and people with behavioral addictions too. Such a “spiritual awakening” has been seen to work for those identifying as atheists as well as for those who identify with one of the world’s religions.

Esteemed psychologist Carl Jung played a forceful part in the formation of AA. It was one of his clients – business executive Rowland Hazard – who was told by Jung that his only chance of beating an addiction to alcohol was a “spiritual or religious experience – in short, a genuine conversion”.

This filtered back to a New York stockbroker called Bill Wilson who was battling his own alcoholism. Wilson went on to become one of AA’s co-founders.

Shakespeare on disease and divinity

We can also look further back to great literature to see that a spiritual solution was seen as the cure for what today are mostly seen as mental health problems.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is agitated, anxious, unable to eat, rest or sleep. She is irritable, restless and discontent.

Macbeth sends for a doctor to cure his wife. When the doctor arrives he swiftly recognizes the source of Lady Macbeth’s problem.

He says: This disease is beyond my practice… More needs she the divine than the physician.

So the debate about mental health illness and spiritual sickness is ongoing. Although there are many people who are today regarded as having important knowledge – such as Carl Jung, Gabor Maté and Wayne Dyer among many others – who talk about a spiritual solution at least being a part of the answer to many of today’s mental health problems.

Tikvah Lake Recovery-lakeside recovery

Therapy will always be of great help to anyone who is struggling or suffering in any way. Our expert Tikvah Lake team use proven successful treatments that can treat anyone with all types of mental health illnesses and emotional disturbances

We can include an introduction to the Twelve Steps. We make sure that everyone has one-on-one therapy every day, which we have found to be the most effective way to help someone.

From virtually everywhere in our luxurious mansion you can see our beautiful tranquil lake. We are in the ideal natural setting for recovery.

Contact us today to see how we can help you or someone you love.

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