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  • Olga Rudin

12 Signs of Hidden Anxiety: Unmasking the Invisible Struggle

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

A man expresses hidden anxiety while sitting at a table with his hands on his head.
Hidden anxiety can be daunting.

Do you ever feel like there's an unexplainable weight on your shoulders, even when everything seems fine on the surface? You're not alone. Anxiety is a common yet often hidden battle that millions of people face every day.

According to the World Health Organization, 301 million people were living with an anxiety disorder in 2019. However, recent surveys indicate that only 37% of those seek treatment.

What Is Hidden Anxiety?

Hidden anxiety is also referred to as high-functioning anxiety. It describes feelings of excessive worry that may not be immediately obvious to others. While some anxious people may openly share their worries and fears, others may choose to hide their anxiety due to social stigma or fear of being judged.

Sometimes, high-functioning anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, or muscle tension instead of obvious anxious behaviors. That's why many people do not associate these symptoms with anxiety.

Recognizing and addressing symptoms of anxiety is important because prolonged stress and anxiety can affect mental and physical health. So the help of mental health professionals is essential.

There are a lot of treatments for anxiety, including stress management techniques, that can help you better cope with underlying anxiety and break the cycle of negative physical symptoms.

12 Hidden Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

A young woman displying signs of hidden anxiety while passing a group of  of men in the street.
One of the signs of hidden anxiety is self -consciousness..

If you've ever wondered whether you might be dealing with high-functioning anxiety, here are 12 signs of hidden anxiety to look out for:

1. Difficulty with face-to-face conversations

While you're good at texting and online chatting, real-life conversations can be daunting. Whether it's nervousness, trouble with eye contact, or a struggle to find the right words, face-to-face interactions can become a source of anxiety.

2. Constant self-consciousness

Do you feel like all eyes are on you when you walk into a room? Are you hyper-aware of every move you make? This heightened self-consciousness might be a sign of hidden stress and anxiety, affecting your confidence and self-esteem.

3. Quick irritation and sensitivity

Small things seem to get under your skin, and your mood can swing like a pendulum. If you find yourself getting upset easily or feeling overwhelmed by emotions, it could be a manifestation of high-functioning anxiety.

4. Panic and startle easily

Anxiety often leads to an intense desire for control. Unexpected events, no matter how minor, can trigger panic. You might find it difficult to relax, even when things don't go exactly as planned.

5. Indecisiveness and perfectionism

Making decisions, even the simplest ones, becomes a Herculean task. You fear making the wrong choice, may lean towards perfectionist tendencies, or have a constant fear of failure.

6. Overthinking past conversations

Do you often think back to past talks, analyzing every word and action? This habit of dwelling on past interactions is a common feature of people who experience hidden dread.

7. Always keeping busy

A busy schedule becomes a defense mechanism. People with anxiety seek to keep themselves occupied to avoid that restless, on-edge feeling that comes with idle time.

8. Self-doubt and negative self-talk

Living with hidden stress can make it challenging to feel good about yourself. Negative self-talk and the constant pursuit of perfection become a vicious cycle that's hard to escape.

9. Catastrophic thinking

Are you a seasoned pessimist, always expecting the worst? This type of thinking, called catastrophic thinking, could be a sign of anxiety. It can turn even minor inconveniences into major sources of stress.

10. Physical signs

Sometimes, your body is the first to reveal the presence of anxiety. You can experience

· rapid heartbeat

· muscle tension

· shaky hands

· restlessness,

· aches and pains

That is your body's way of telling you that something's amiss.

11. Chronic fatigue

Anxiety can be exhausting, leaving you drained, both mentally and physically. Even small tasks can feel like climbing mountains, sapping your energy and ability to function.

12. Having trouble falling asleep

Nights are often a battleground, as you toss and turn, your mind refusing to quiet down. Sleep, that peaceful refuge, seems to slip through your fingers when anxiety grips you.

What Causes High-Functioning Anxiety?

A woman with hidden anxiety is sitting on a couch with a tissue in her hand.
The causes of hidden anxiety could be chronic pain or illnesses as well as childhood trauma or unresolved past events.

There are various factors that can trigger anxiety.

- Negative self-beliefs and low self-confidence - Learned behavior from observing anxious parents or caregivers - Chronic illness or medical conditions - Chronic pain or physical discomfort - High expectations - Unresolved conflicts or unresolved past events - Childhood experiences and trauma

How Anxiety Affects Mental and Physical Health

High-functioning anxiety can really mess up your mind and body.

On a mental level, this type of anxiety can make you more likely to get problems like depression because you're always under pressure to be perfect.

On a physical level, feeling anxious constantly can cause things like high blood pressure, fast heartbeats, and tummy problems.

This kind of anxiety can affect the quality and quantity of sleep, leading to not getting enough good rest. This lack of sleep makes anxiety worse and messes with your mental well-being.

Additionally, chronic stress can weaken the immune system. So, you may become more susceptible to developing chronic illnesses.

Thus, it is crucial to recognize and seek proper mental health treatment for underlying anxiety to minimize its negative effects on mental and physical health.

How Does It Differ from Other Types of Anxiety?

High-functioning anxiety and other types of anxiety are like cousins. They both come from our body's natural response to danger, the "fight or flight" thing. But hidden fear and anxiety are a bit tricky.

Regular anxiety can make you feel really bad, like experiencing panic attacks, feeling tired all the time, or wanting to avoid people.

High-functioning anxiety is different because it's like secret anxiety. People who have it worry a lot on the inside, but you can't easily see it from the outside. So, it goes unnoticed and untreated, which can make it even worse.

Sometimes, this form of anxiety exists along with other mental health problems like depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Treatment Options for Hidden Anxiety

A woman seeking treatment for hidden anxiety sits in a chair with her head in her hands while consulting with a therapist.
BWRT therapy is the best treatment option for hidden anxiety.

The best way to deal with anxiety is to find a therapist specializing in anxiety. There are many therapies that can help you overcome feelings of worry and fear. I will name a few of them.

BrainWorking Recursive Therapy (BWRT)

It's a natural way to address irrational issues by changing the brain's pathways. It creates new paths that lead to a different response.

Anxiety tends to vanish once the brain learns this new approach, as the brain realizes it's no longer needed. BWRT can help with hidden fear by rewiring the brain, so it responds differently.


Hypnotherapy can help with anxiety and stress by using a relaxed state of focus to address and manage anxious feelings. It works by helping you explore the root causes of the anxiety, often buried in your subconscious mind.

Hypnosis is an effective and reliable tool to help people manage their symptoms and reduce anxiety levels.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

It's a short treatment to help you learn skills that make you feel better. Your therapist helps you recognize the signs, and change thoughts that worsen anxiety symptoms.

CBT works well for anxiety, with or without medicine. It includes techniques like changing how you think (cognitive restructuring), facing challenging thoughts, doing active things, writing in a journal, trying new actions, and using relaxation methods.

Holistic Approach and Self-Care

Sometimes the best way to manage anxiety is through a holistic approach. It includes:

  • Engaging in regular exercise

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

  • Practicing relaxation techniques

  • Self-hypnosis

  • Mindfulness meditation

  • Nutritional and herbal supplements

  • Yoga

  • Deep breathing


Hidden anxiety is a serious issue that many people face, even though it may not always be obvious. It can harm our mental and physical health.

Recognizing the signs and seeking help is crucial. There are effective therapies like BWRT, Hypnotherapy, and CBT, as well as self-care methods, to manage anxiety.

Let's work together to bring this hidden struggle to light. Your mental well-being matters.


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