Is High-Functioning Anxiety and Depression an Epidemic?

You are driving home from work—fast. You hit every stoplight, and you nervously tap your fingers on the steering wheel while you watch the minutes tick by on your dash clock.  Your neck muscles strain while your stomach knots. You feel nauseous as your mind races to all the things you have to do tonight. In your own mind, you are failing as a business executive, a parent, and a spouse. You go to bed completely exhausted, but can’t sleep. No matter how ferociously you paddle, you feel like you are drowning.

Sure enough, your spouse—the person who is supposed to know you best—is unaware of your struggle, believing that you are happy, healthy, and most of all, successful. (S)he admires your tenacity, intelligence, drive, and verve for life. Your significant other would never guess that you are struggling—and neither would anyone else. Sure, you verbally lash out sometimes, but for the most part, you keep it all in check.

This is the story of high-functioning anxiety and depression. Now, more than ever, it is an epidemic in the business world. Even entrepreneurs, who can set their own schedules, stretch themselves to the limit, trying to boost profits.

Statistics of High-Functioning Anxiety and Depression

There are no reliable statistics for high-functioning anxiety and depression. The problem? People cover it up or don’t even realize they have it, and because it doesn’t affect daily functioning, it is difficult to diagnose. In fact, most people with high-functioning anxiety and depression don’t realize they have a problem because they figure their desperation is a universal fact of life. Because of this, they wouldn’t choose to see a counselor.

Psychologists diagnose traditional (not high-functioning) anxiety and depression by observing its effect on daily activities. When anxiety and depression controls people to the extent that they are unable to do their normal activities, it is diagnosable. About 12 percent of Canadians and 18 percent of Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in life.

But likely an even greater percentage of people suffer from the insidious, all-consuming nightmare of high-functioning anxiety and depression. While a few commit suicide, many live their entire lives without disclosing or addressing these feelings.

High-Functioning Anxiety and Depression is Not a Fact of Life

Just as some people don’t realize that they are colorblind until they hear someone describe a colorful view, others don’t know that they have high-functioning anxiety and depression until they hear how others approach life in a much calmer, more joyous, and more mindful manner. Then, they realize that their predominant feelings are not normal and actually quite destructive.

If you are suffering from high-functioning anxiety and depression, it doesn’t have to be this way. Overcoming high-functioning anxiety and depression is like getting that darn monkey off your back; it is a huge relief. And it changes your entire approach to life. You no longer need to run from an unnamed but ever-present threat.

Anxiety and Depression in the East and West

In the Western world, anxiety and depression are much more common than in the Eastern world. Why? Because the West emphasizes independence and work, catalyzing feelings of loneliness and anxiety, while the East focuses on interdependence and family, which promote feelings of safety and harmony. In addition, stress reduction techniques are a part of the Eastern way of life—but this is not so in the West. For this reason, traditional and high-functioning anxiety and depression are much more common in the West than the East.

Chronic Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Think of the last time you tried to land a lucrative business deal or partnership. Likely, this time period was characterized by high levels of stress. But there was a very clear stress stimulus: the business deal. With several of these stressful periods in a row, your fight-or-flight (stress) response becomes overactive. In fact, it has serious health consequences.

Eventually, chronic stress, in which you can name the stressor, turns into chronic anxiety, in which you are in a state of hyper-arousal. You might imagine stressful things in the future or ruminate on past stressors. But there is no extreme threat to call for a hyper-aroused state. This is the basis of traditional and high-functioning anxiety.

Chronic stress and anxiety is connected to depression, cardiovascular disease, and immune dysfunction.

The Helix Approach to High-Functioning Anxiety and Depression

At Helix Healthcare Group, we combine stress-reduction and healing techniques of the East with the neuroscience of the West to help you recover from traditional or high-functioning anxiety and depression. You can choose from our comprehensive list of healing modalities, including sound therapy, hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditations, massage, nutritional coaching, acupuncture, and personalized psychotherapy to facilitate neuroplastic restructuring, in which your brain heals as you develop new neural networks, life patterns, and coping skills. At Helix, high-functioning anxiety and depression is not the end of the road, it’s just the beginning.

Contact us at 416.921.2273 or visit to book a FREE consultation with a member of our clinical team.


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