Performance Anxiety

What is Performance Anxiety?

Performance anxiety, sometimes referred to as "Stage Fright," is characterized by persisting, distressful apprehension about—or possibly actual impairment of—performance skills to a degree unwarranted by the individual’s training,  aptitude and preparation.

Some mild to moderate anxiety is normal and motivating in performances.  Some moderate anxiety promotes optimal performance. However increasing beyond a certain threshold is reached causes performance to plunge.

What are the symptoms of Performance Anxiety?

Symptoms of performance anxiety include physical and emotional symptoms.  Physical and emotional symptoms both can interfere with performance.  Physical symptoms include becoming tremulous, sweating, with increased heart rate, dry mouth, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea.  Mental symptoms can include decreased concentration, embarrassment, inability to recall.

Treatment of Performance Anxiety

 Performance anxiety, like other forms of anxiety, respond well to a form of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  The therapy will focus on desensitizing an individual to the stress of performing in public.  Some people still need some additional help to overcome anxiety and the physical symptoms of anxiety, in order to perform optimally.  Beta blockers are often used to successfully reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, allowing the person to feel more in control at the time of the performance.