What is high-functioning anxiety, and is it that bad?

April 27, 2023 | by Arpit Patel, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

How often do people decide to just live with pain until it becomes unbearable?

Maybe we think it will just go away. We self-medicate. Eventually, when the pain gets to be too much, we seek help from a physician.

Psychological pain can affect us the same way physical pain does. It wears us down and affects our well-being, making it harder to do everyday activities.

Unfortunately, psychological pain doesn’t always prompt us to visit a provider who can help.

Anxiety is a normal physical and emotional reaction to stressful situations — think sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, nervousness or a knot in your stomach. Anxiety becomes disordered when that physical reaction doesn’t match the situation we’re in and hinders our ability to function.

Anxiety can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including:

  • Dread or apprehension
  • Feeling tense or jumpy
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
  • Sweating, tremors and twitches
  • Headaches, fatigue and insomnia
  • Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea

There are several types of anxiety disorders. Some focus on specific phobias, some involve feelings of panic, some are specific to separation or social situations.

People with anxiety — or any mental health condition, for that matter — often don’t get the treatment they need. Some people don’t realize what they’re feeling isn’t normal. Some feel too embarrassed to seek help.

Anxiety is often undiagnosed and untreated or not sufficiently treated.

High-functioning anxiety refers to someone getting through each day, completing the tasks they need to complete despite the symptoms.

Can you live with high-functioning anxiety? Yes, many people do it every day. The real question should be do you have to live with anxiety? The answer is no. And, ignoring it can take a toll on your overall well-being. For example, chronic anxiety and stress can increase the risk of depression, low self-esteem and other issues.

There are many ways to ease anxiety, from things you can learn to do yourself, to help that a professional can provide.

Anxiety disorders are treated in several ways: psychotherapy, medication, support groups and stress management techniques people can do on their own.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder, you don’t have to just live with it. Help is available.

Arpit Patel, MD, is a family medicine physician with Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group. View his profile and schedule an appointment online.

We were there for that and we’re here for everything else. At Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group, with providers in 30 specialties from pediatrics to orthopedics to internal medicine, we believe that better relationships lead to better care. Here, it’s personal. Because we take the time to get to know you. Find the perfect doctor.

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