I think of “high functioning anxiety” as the kind of anxiety that is usually well concealed. I have heard it described as “anxiety hidden behind a smile and the outward picture of success.” It is the person who may appear calm, successful and very well put together on the surface, but internally they are in significant distress. It is common for it to be the type of anxiety that can be channeled into propelling individuals toward career and financial success and can be associated with several positive characteristics. However, while it may look like ambition is the driving force, it is actually usually crippling fears of failure, of disappointing others or making a mistake or “impostor syndrome” that is driving the achievement. The unfortunate consequence then becomes that no amount of success is rewarding or lowers the anxiety. If you don’t address the underlying distorted beliefs, then no amount of outward achievement will resolve the inner feelings of distress, anxiety and seeking of external validation. Individuals with high functioning anxiety are often objectively successful on paper but may tend to feel empty, overwhelmed and constantly worried and preoccupied. Essentially it is hard to ever feel satisfied or to slow down.
HOW AND WITH WHOM IT MANIFESTS