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Performance anxiety: what is it and what are the symptoms? A psychologist answers

  • June 10, 2024
  • 5 Min
  • 4

Whether it is taking an exam, participating in a sporting competition or speaking in public, there are many events that encourage the appearance of performance anxiety. But then, what is it about? In a recent publication, a psychologist returned to the different symptoms of this form of anxiety.

The idea of ​​carrying out a task where the stakes are high provokes you un stress intense ? This is what we call “performance anxiety”. According to Amélia Lobbé, psychologist specializing in anxiety, depression and eating disorders, “Performance anxiety is a form of anxiety related to the fear of accomplishing a task, or of failing to accomplish a task, whether in public or not. It can arise when we have a performance to perform.” In an Instagram publication posted on her account @amelia.psychologue, the expert clarified that this form of anxiety can occur in everyone occasionally, but also “transform into a cognitive and behavioral pattern, and spread into different areas of life, going so far as to become disabling”.

What are the main symptoms of performance anxiety?

“The symptoms of performance anxiety are variable and more or less severe”, underlines the psychologist in her publication. According to her, they can result in physical changes such as an increased heart rate, trembling hands, heavy sweating, dry moutha dizzy, stomach aches, trips to the toilet and red patches. The expert specifies, however, that the various symptoms of performance anxiety can also manifest themselves in a psychological form with intrusive thoughts and self-denigrating, a certainty of failure, inhibited thoughts, astonishment, a desire to flee, stress, irritability, a feeling of no longer being able to make a move, shivers and depersonalization.

Performance anxiety: what are the factors that promote it?

As the psychologist explains in her publication, performance anxiety can firstly be linked to “fear of the gaze of others and social anxiety”. Indeed, carrying out an important task in front of an audience involves exposing yourself to the judgments and criticism of others. Which adds additional stress and greater anxiety. This form of anxiety can also be caused by fear of failure according to the expert. So, in this scenario, the stress of not succeeding takes over, and can lead to a loss of self-confidence. “Performance anxiety can also arise from something very important,” declares the psychologist. It’s true that most of the time, the bigger the stakes, the bigger the repercussions. In addition, the specialist indicates that performance anxiety can also be linked to “the fear of not performing sexually, in an obsolete vision of what sexual intercourse should be.” Finally, she states that performance anxiety can happen “between us and us, according to our limiting beliefs, our past experiences which have weakened us, our personal demands…”

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Oceane Letouze