People with anxiety are constantly hearing a voice in the back of their head warning them that something terrible is going to happen. Or, reminding them of something embarrassing which has happened a few years ago.
It is often the reason why they can’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. It’s what keeps them worried, afraid, and nervous all the time.
Everyone can have anxiety, but in most cases, it’s the introverts, although it doesn’t mean that every person with this condition is an introvert. Their anxiety is often called ‘secret anxiety.’
Usually, anxiety can be recognized easily. But, in some cases, you can never guess someone is anxious, and that form of anxiety is known as “high-functioning anxiety.”
A person with high-functioning anxiety can lead a very successful life and not be aware that they have this condition.
Here are several warning signs you or someone you know has high-functioning anxiety.
11 Warning Signs of High-Functioning Anxiety
1. Always Prepared
Are you always prepared for the worst-case scenario in most situations? For instance, you pack makeup and underwear in both your carry-on and checked luggage in case your suitcase is lost.
Even though this means you are a reliable person whose preparations often help others, not many know that all of this can mentally stem from anxiety.
2. Freaking on the Inside, but Calm on the Outside
You may never guess that someone with high-functioning anxiety is nervous because they appear to be super calm. That’s because they’ve learned to hide their emotions from everyone, which is why this form of anxiety is often known as secret anxiety.
3. Overgeneralizing Emotional Experiences
Israeli researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science conducted a study which suggests that anxious people see the world in a different way than others.
The participants with anxiety were less able to make a difference between a stimulus that was earlier related to a threat, and a safe one. This means that they see some generally safe things as a threat.
4. Constant Need to Do Something
Introverts with high-functioning anxiety like to get things done as soon as possible, and they always have something to do. In that way, they keep themselves distracted from their anxiety and gain a sense of control.
5. Feeling Like You Should Do More
You may be successful in all aspects of life, but somehow you’re never satisfied with your achievements. You think you can, and you should be doing more. For you, it’s never enough.
6. Fear from Disappointing Others
You often sacrifice your own needs just to please everyone around you. You are a people-pleaser so you don’t want to disappoint anyone.
7. Chattering Nervously
Introvert people are quiet, but they can chatter nervously if they have high-functioning anxiety. That’s why some people don’t even see them as introverts.
8. Avoiding Intense Emotional Experiences
These people prefer to stick to familiar experiences and routines that make them comfortable. In that way, they have a sense of control. That’s why they avoid events which can trigger their anxiety, like conflicts, social events, etc.
You tend to overanalyze everything, especially mistakes from the past and “what if” scenarios. You can’t stop your mind from expecting the worst, and this prevents you from enjoying the moment.
Having anxiety can be really exhausting, especially for your mind which never stops worrying, even when you sleep. So, even if you manage to fall asleep or stay asleep one night, you might still be tired the following day.
11. Easily Stressed
The fact that these people are living with low-level stress all the time makes them easily irritated and stressed even by minor problems.
How to Help Someone with Anxiety
Here are a few tips to help someone with anxiety:
Reassure them that they are going to be fine
Stay calm and help them calm down as well
Motivate them to do something about it
Suggest them to seek professional help
Support their decision to seek therapy/ counseling
Let them know they can talk to you anytime without fearing you will judge them
Make sure they know you understand them and their anxiety condition
Celebrate their small achievements on the way to lasting success
Help them see themselves in a more positive light