Introversion with High-Functioning Anxiety. Does it Describe You?

Introversion with High-Functioning Anxiety. Does it Describe You?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Introversion with high-functioning anxiety is more common than we think. Often, this set of traits hides under what is known as “secret anxiety.” So, despite always seeming admirably calm, anxiety ties itself into a complicated puzzle within these people. This could involve excessive worry, the need to evade things, perfectionism…

Much has been written about introversion with high-functioning anxiety. For several years now, we’ve been witnessing a “quiet” awakening, where introverted people  are starting, little by little, to find their rightful place. We cannot ignore the fact that our society, and especially in the realms of business, school, or university, is oriented more toward people with a more open, sociable, and, essentially, extroverted personality.

Introversion with high-functioning anxiety affects a good portion of the population with this type of personality. It’s a type of hidden anxiety, very resistant over time.

Books such as The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain, value these qualities which people with this psychological composition tend to have. Qualities such as creativity, empathy, self-reflection, or the ability to resolve conflicts are dimensions that can place introverted people in positions of admirable leadership. These characteristics empower them to feel more effective day by day.

So then, just as it’s important to identify their value, strengths, and capabilities, it’s essential to also know the more complicated, and often weakening, side. All of us, no matter what your personality, are more or less susceptible, at some point, to suffer some kind of anxiety issue. Nevertheless, introverts are especially skilled at adopting a very particular and hidden behavioral pattern for anxiety that we should know about.

pencils representing high-functioning anxiety

Introversion with high-functioning anxiety. What is it?

One saying commonly heard is that the greatest treasures are found in the greatest depths. Now then, we all know that in those worlds, unknown and profound, lives darkness, and one or another threatening presence. Living in those levels has its benefits, but on the other hand, also has its particular threats and dangers.

Before describing what introversion with high-functioning anxiety consists of, let’s think about this concept. The idea of introversion and extroversion is a continuum. That is to say, we are all somewhere along it. Or rather, at some intermediate point. Some are a little higher and some are a little lower. Even so, those people who are at more extreme points tend to have signs of some pathology. It is very difficult for them to enjoy a good quality of life, to be productive, and to maintain good social relationships.

People characterized as having introversion with high-functioning anxiety are not at the extreme of the spectrum, but they’re near it. That is to say, in general, they lead normal lives, with their responsibilities, jobs, and relationship (which is where the word “high-functioning” comes into play). Even so, inside of them there lies a very complicated knot. This is a secret emotional labyrinth that is well-camouflaged, through which fear seeks a way out, insecurity crashes with continuous self-contradiction, and permanent worry run against the wall… Again and again.

Let’s see what characteristics introverted people with high-functioning anxiety have.

A constant need to defend themselves from “something”

Introverts with high-functioning anxiety tend to be people who are vigilant and have a defensive attitude. There is always something worrying them, something threatening them, or something bothering them. Their mind is never calm. Often, it’s that date, that interview, or that project they have to finish. Those are events that force them to leave their comfort zone, generating high levels of anxiety.

You’re scared on the inside, but you have to pretend to be confident

The most interesting thing about introverts who suffer from high-functioning anxiety is that they rarely lose things. They are defined by equilibrium, calm, and apparent self-control. These are all signs that other people can see without knowing that inside of them, something very different is happening. They oscillate between fear and uncertainty.

This continuous effort of seeming level-headed and resolute can run out. To do this is to fall into contradictions, to hide fear every day and wear armor of fortitude that, day by day, keeps getting heavier.

people with high-functioning anxiety talking

See also: Comfort zone

I see the world differently and I feel alone

Introverts need more relaxed scenery in order to feel good, to fulfill their potential, to work, and to find themselves. There are some who feel good in their exclusive and private corners. On the other hand, other people feel that solitary place differently. They feel frustrated because they are not understood, angry at the fact that other people don’t understand their needs, their way of experiencing life…

Everything has to be perfect

Introversion with high-functioning anxiety is also marked by a high level of perfectionism. They are demanding and demand a lot from themselves. Because perfectionism, for them, gives them a feeling of control. And when something is under control, it brings positive rewards with it. This reasoning is an unending source of suffering.

See also: Psychosomatic illness

Pain, tics, exhaustion, nervousness…

This “secret” anxiety of introverts show up in different ways. They commonly suffer from psychosomatic symptoms, such as skin problems, digestive problems, migraines, muscular pain, nervous tics, etc. These are channels for the body to express the internal anxiety, that constant worry, that need to defend itself from the world and from that which it can’t control.

A common trait of this personality type is also the way these people express themselves. They frequently talk in a nervous and rushed manner which may make other people consider them extroverted. Nevertheless, it is a symptom of more internal anxiety. One of that interior knot that is so, so complicated.

sad girl with high-functioning anxiety

In conclusion, if we happen to feel like this description fits us, the best thing to do is seek professional help. Introversion with high-functioning anxiety tends to be a chronic problem. We normalize it up until the point of living with it for several years, until the consequences arise. Consequences such as psychosomatic illnesses and other psychological disorders of greater severity.

Let’s take a step toward getting out of that labyrinth of anxiety and live with more balance.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.