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At first glance, Avery was a successful and even exceptional 5th-grade student. In the classroom, she consistently scored high marks on tests and assignments while contributing to class discussions. She is extremely active and talented in both cheerleading and dance, and her coaches are always impressed by her drive, focus, and determination to succeed. Her teachers and coaches praise her level of hard work and dedication, and Avery thrives for some time in these conditions. But at home, her parents see something completely different when asking her to complete her homework, eat dinner, and get to sleep.

Avery begins to complain of headaches and insomnia, and her appetite becomes irregular. She has trouble concentrating when doing her homework and her attitude also declines — often becoming snippy or rude to her parents and brother. She is still the same talented, unique, and special young person who succeeds during the day, but she seems stressed and increasingly unhappy and anxious at home.

What’s happened in Avery’s life? It’s a difficult question, and one that quickly leads to further difficult questions: Why does the same drive and intensity that once helped Avery succeed, now push her outside of her comfort levels? How much of that drive is too much, and at what point does it start to hamper her day-to-day life? For Avery (and many of her peers), the answer may lie in recognizing the signs of high functioning anxiety.


For the time being, high functioning anxiety remains something of an informal term within the mental-health community. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or “DSM-5”) — the professional codex of mental health diagnosis — does not currently list high functioning anxiety as an official anxiety disorder. Accordingly, there isn’t much corresponding research on this specific condition. Nevertheless, there are enough young people and adults with experiences similar to Brooklyn’s to warrant a discussion of the issue; sufferers who report that the same intensity and passion that once fueled them, now seems to cripple them.

The signs of high functioning anxiety may be similar from one patient to the next. The term “high functioning anxiety” itself refers to an individual who experiences anxiety while still managing, succeeding, and even excelling at daily tasks. The child or teen may have struggled with anxiety for the majority of their life while nevertheless performing well at school, sports, and other activities. That is why it’s so hard for parents of children with high functioning anxiety, because often the child “hides” it well at school and then struggles in the evenings.

Sufferers of high functioning anxiety may be successful in their relationships, and by all accounts appear to be “doing great.” In actuality though, the individual is plagued by their anxiety, despite the fact that their successes may (in part) stem from it.

Ultimately, high functioning anxiety may be caused by dysautonomia, a condition in which the autonomic nervous system is in a state of dysfunction. In many cases, dysautonomia can be measured and tested to assist in the development of a personalized treatment plan. In many cases, the use of chiropractic care has been shown to improve these imbalances in the autonomic nervous system.

Let’s look at a short synopsis of high functioning anxiety:

  • High functioning anxiety involves individuals who may be high achievers in daily responsibilities and expectations despite their anxiety (or possibly due to it).

  • When anxiety becomes too much for these individuals to handle, it may lead to adverse responses and negatively affect their day-to-day quality of life in a big way

  • The struggles that come from high functioning anxiety may be lessened by decreasing stress and tension on the nervous system


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Did you know that prenatal stress 🤰 and birth trauma during labor and delivery can impact a child’s nervous system in the long-term?

This intimate, in-person workshop is for parents of children struggling with autism, ADD/ADHD, behavioral challenges, sensory processing disorders, mood disorders, or low tone to provide them with the hope, answers, and help they need for their child. 🙌

On April 4th at 6:30pm, join us at the Palmer Ale House for an extremely unique workshop that explores the role of prenatal stress and birth intervention (trauma) in children with chronic neurological challenges.


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