What is performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety is a specific type of social anxiety that occurs in relation to specific events. Exam-related anxiety, public speaking (glossophobia) and stage fright are all types of performance anxiety. Social anxiety disorder can be limited to performance anxiety, or in its most severe form, it can cause a person to feel anxious any time they are around others.
Is performance anxiety normal?
Most people will experience some level of social anxiety from time to time. This is perfectly normal when working outside your comfort zone. However, some people experience intense feelings of anxiety, which can interfere with their ability to function in stressful situations. This can then lead to avoidance, which can have negative consequences professionally, socially, and in terms of mental health. For people who experience symptoms related to performance anxiety, medications such as Propranolol, and psychotherapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can be helpful to get the anxiety under control.
Is performance anxiety common?
Performance anxiety is very common. Many people will feel nervous before going on stage, making a speech, or taking an exam. This is a natural human response to high-stress situations. Some people may experience severe symptoms of anxiety including panic attacks. This is less common, and medications or psychotherapies may benefit people in this group.
Is social anxiety disorder a mental illness?
While anxiety can be a normal response to a stressful situation, it rises to the level of a clinical disorder when it is severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living. People with social anxiety disorder may experience panic attacks and other physical symptoms of anxiety such as a rapid heart rate, profuse sweating, tremors, shaking, and nausea.
How does social anxiety occur?
Social anxiety is caused by the body’s fight or flight response. When the fight or flight response kicks in, the body releases adrenaline. Evolutionarily, this may have occurred to help early humans fight off or escape from predators. Sometimes the body responds to other stressful situations, such as public speaking in the same way as it would to a life-threatening situation. The increased levels of adrenaline can cause shaking, a rapid heart rate, nausea, and profuse sweating, symptoms which are commonly associated with situational anxiety.