Performance anxiety is the acute nervousness an individual experiences before or during participation in an activity in front of an audience. Although it is natural to feel a little bit of worry in such a situation, an overbearing and continuous feeling of performance anxiety is a problem that needs to be addressed.
It is a type of anxiety that arises out of a fear of the consequences of not being able to perform well. Performance anxiety is generally used to denote stage fright—a level of stress or fear just before giving a performance or a speech in front of a crowd. However, it is also referred to as sexual performance anxiety, fear related to having sex. It becomes a pattern with people when left untreated. The good thing is it can be easily managed with expert guidance and intervention.
Ranging from mild to severe, performance anxiety can affect anyone, irrespective of gender and age. Even children may experience performance anxiety, which can be overwhelming just like any adult.
This is a kind of anxiety linked to any specific task and can happen under a multitude of circumstances.
Symptoms of performance anxiety
Symptoms of performance anxiety may vary from individual to individual and they may also be different for the same person when he or she faces different situations. The symptoms may also change in terms of severity—including physical, emotional, motor, or cognitive changes.
Some of the most common signs of performance anxiety are:
- Increased heartbeat
- Increased BP
- Fast breathing
- Dryness in mouth
- Difficulty controlling bladder
- Upset tummy
- Vision changes
- Sweating profusely
- Cold hands or feet
- Pale or flushed skin
- Heightened alertness
- Constant thoughts of fear of failure
- Thoughts of negative outcomes of perceived failure
- Behavioral changes
- A feeling of loss of control
- Decision leave a task unfinished
Types of performance anxiety:
Although there can be multiple types of performance anxiety, primarily the main ones include:
- Stage fright: It is related to performing on stage and is mostly experienced by actors, orators, singers, musicians, etc.
- Sexual performance anxiety: It is an anxiety that can occur during or before sexual intercourse. It is attributed to a low body image, relationship strains, and doubts about one’s sexual ability. It is believed that nine to 25% of men and six to 16% of women suffers from sexual performance anxiety.
- Athletic performance anxiety: Experienced by sportspersons, coaches, and support staff of teams, athletic performance anxiety is referred to the fear or anxiety during or before athletic competition. This type of performance anxiety brings in additional concern as there is an increased risk of injury among athletes.
- Test-taking anxiety: Test-taking anxiety is a panic state when a person is about to take any test. He or she gets paranoid about being able to perform well on tests. It often adversely affects the outcome of the test. It has been observed that test-takers score lower than their knowledge and abilities due to their performance anxiety.
- Interview anxiety: Interview anxiety is normal to a certain degree as the candidate may feel a little jittery. However, when the anxiety or worry related to the interview is overwhelming, it is a concern. It often decreases interview performance and may negatively impact hiring decisions.
It is important to deal with performance anxiety and seek professional help of experts so that life is smooth sailing. Mental health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists can help people suffering from performance anxiety. They can help in diagnosing performance anxiety by assessing the symptoms, thoughts, and circumstances.
Treatment for performance anxiety
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, which can be best assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist, there are several treatment interventions for performance anxiety. It can be treated with talk therapy methods or medications.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a modality of treating performance anxiety without medications. Talk therapy mainly comprises cognitive-behavioral-therapy (CBT), counseling, and teaching coping strategies to the patients.
Medication is also a popular treatment method for performance anxiety wherein doctors prescribe medicines to assuage symptoms of the patients. However, one should never try to self-medicate by taking medicines from someone else’s prescription. It could be catastrophic. The best way is to heed the advice of an expert.
Are you or a loved one is dealing with performance anxiety? We are here to help you overcome your psychological barrier and so that you enjoy life to the fullest. Whether you are looking for a treatment for performance anxiety or a generalized anxiety disorder treatment, Medical Concierge can provide you with the best solution.
Medical Concierge has collaborated with some of the best centers for anxiety disorder treatment in California offering a long-term recovery to patients. Call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 today for more information on our treatment programs or other assistance.