Root Causes of High-Functioning Anxiety

Confident and successful on the outside, with constant fear and worry on the inside.

👉 That’s what high-functioning anxiety looks like.

(if you missed my last post describing high-functioning anxiety, be sure to check it out). 

For anyone experiencing high-functioning anxiety, it can feel like a normal way to be—as if it’s necessary to be in a constant state of stress just to keep up with life’s demands.

But what if it’s not actually normal?

What if it could be possible to stay organized, productive, and goal-oriented without compromising your inner peace?

The first step to breaking the cycle of high-functioning anxiety is to look at where it’s coming from.



Here are 5 potential root causes of high-functioning anxiety:

1️⃣ Personality

High-functioning anxiety might just feel like who you are, based on your personality. It is more common in people who tend to be shy or nervous in new situations or those who have a tendency to worry.

2️⃣ Stressful Life Events

Any experience that your body perceives as traumatic can create a stress response in the body that cascades into anxiousness. Even if we compensate by overachieving, the stress builds up on the inside. 

3️⃣ Alcohol Use or Abuse

It’s common for those with high-functioning anxiety to have a cocktail or glass or wine to calm the nerves or relieve the anxiety. The problem is that it’s a short-term fix. Drinking alcohol can lead to sleep problems, fatigue, and worse anxiety the next day.

4️⃣ Thyroid Imbalance

Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism but also influence mood. Both an overactive (hyper) and underactive (hypo) thyroid can lead to nervousness and anxiousness. Routine labs don’t usually evaluate a complete thyroid panel, so it’s possible to have thyroid imbalance even if you’ve been told your labs are normal.

5️⃣ Sympathetic Overdrive

Your sympathetic nervous system activates in response to stress, releasing a cascade of chemical messengers (like adrenaline) and hormones (like cortisol). With ongoing stress, your sympathetic response can overpower the more calming parasympathetic response. That creates agitation, anxiousness, muscle tension, sleep problems, and more.

It can be tricky to unravel what’s really at the root of high-functioning anxiety on your own. If this is something you can relate to, we would love to help.

Our functional nutrition approach means we look past the routine labs and screenings to find more subtle patterns (like thyroid imbalance or disrupted stress hormones) underneath the symptoms.

Then we create a personalized plan to help you feel as calm and confident on the INSIDE as you appear to everybody else on the OUTSIDE.