What is Performance Anxiety? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

When you’re working on a project under a strict deadline, the work pressure and stress make you feel anxious. This anxiousness could badly impact your routine life when it crosses the limit. Today, we’ll discuss what is performance anxiety; its symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies.

What is Performance Anxiety? 

Performance anxiety is the intense worrisome and fearful feelings relevant to achieving something in your life. It’s the fear of consequence like what happens if you won’t be able to perform well. However, people use the term to express the state of fear, stress, and fright while speaking in public or performing something. Sometimes, the term is the short form of sexual performance anxiety, and that is relevant to physical intercourse.

Anything could cause performance anxiety when it becomes the pattern. You can overcome the symptoms and challenges with proper treatment.

It’s important to mention here that PA could affect anyone regardless of gender differences, both adults and children equally. It starts suddenly and then keeps on building up with the passage of time. However, it is such a form of anxiety that is relevant to one particular task, and that’s why it could occur in various circumstances.

The symptoms and signs of PA could vary from mild to extreme depending on the condition and circumstances. It could happen at once, or occur multiple times. Often it happens when you treat it properly and face the same task every time and it gets back.

Symptoms of Performance Anxiety 

The symptoms of performance anxiety (PA) are different people. They may be different when the same person exhibits various symptoms. The severity of the symptoms would also change by the cognitive, motor, emotional, and physical changes. Some of the main symptoms of PA are as follows;

  • Deciding that you won’t finish the task on time
  • Feelings that things are out of your control
  • Behavioral changes
  • Having difficulty in processing and accepting various ideas
  • Perceiving negative outcomes and failure thoughts
  • Fearful thoughts of failing
  • High alertness
  • Flushed and pale skin
  • Chills
  • Hands and feet feeling cold
  • Sweating
  • Change in vision
  • Troubled stomach
  • Facing difficulty in controlling your bladder
  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Higher blood pressure
  • High heartbeat

Types of Performance Anxiety 

Some of the main types of performance anxiety are as follows;

Interview Anxiety

It’s the state of worrisome and fearful feelings relevant to the job interview and other forms of interviews. When the interview anxiousness increases, then it reduces your performance at the interview and badly impacts the decision of the hiring process.

Test Taking Anxiety

As the name implies, it’s the worrisome and fearful feelings relevant to your performance in the test and taking the test. Often, it negatively impacts your knowledge capabilities, learned material, test score, and test results where you have participated.

Athletic Performance Anxiety

It’s a type of fearful feeling that athletes face while competing or training. When it happens, then it would bring various other concerns beyond the anxiety symptoms. However, it amplifies the chances of injuries among athletes because their mind is distracted.

Sexual Performance Anxiety

As the name implies, it comprises worrying feelings relevant to sexual intercourse, and they could happen at any time during or before the physical intimacy. It has associations relevant to your capabilities like the challenges of your relationship, your body image, and the pressure of satisfying your partner. According to an estimate, approximately 6-16% of the females and 9-25% of the males are experiencing the symptoms of SPA.

Erectile dysfunction and sexual performance anxiety are the two terms that people use synonymously. When analyzing them deeply, and then you would realize that they’re completely different. For instance, SPA is the worrisome feelings relevant towards physical intimacy; PA is the fearful feelings relevant to one particular task. Erectile dysfunction is the problem that males usually face while keeping it erected.

Stage Fright

It’s a type of fear that professional performers experience while performing like dancers, musicians, and actors. Stage fright also goes by the name of stage phobia, and it’s like any other type of phobias like fear of public speaking, glossophobia, and social phobia.

Diagnosis of Performance Anxiety 

Your psychiatrist or professional psychologist would diagnose the performance anxiety condition by analyzing your thoughts and symptoms along with other circumstances.

Treatment of Performance Anxiety 

There are various types of treatment plans for PA depending on the severity of the condition. How the person is experiencing it and the impact of the symptoms on one’s daily life. Your therapist would use either psychotherapy or medication; or both in combination. They’re as follows;


Psychologists treat social anxiety disorder and performance anxiety with medication like SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) or SNRI (serotonin, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Some of the other medications for PA are as follows;

  • Beta-Blockers like Inderal or Propranolol
  • Benzodiazepine medicines like Klonopin or Clonazepam
  • And Benzodiazepine medicines like Ativan or Lorazepam
  • SNRI medicines like Effexor XR or Venlafaxine
  • SSRI medicines like Zoloft or Sertraline
  • And SSRI medicines Paxil or Paroxetine


Talk therapy or psychotherapy is a type of treatment plan where you don’t use medicines. Some of the main types of psychotherapeutic treatment plans are as follows;

Coping Strategies

It comprises visualization, deep breathing, and practicing pre-performance rituals.


It’s a form of talking therapy where your therapist would teach you strategies to amplify your health and well-being and overcome the challenges of life.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

CBT is the most form of therapeutic treatment, and it helps you to recognize your difficult thoughts and find a way to change them. Resultantly, you would experience a change in behavior.


Some of the main preventions tips of performance anxiety are as follows;

  • Preparing yourself for the particular task or the event
  • Practicing in terms of rehearsing, training, learning information and memorization, practicing presentation and speech, learning lessons of dance and music, etc
  • Imagining and visualizing yourself as completing the task
  • Pre-performance rituals
  • Learning managing techniques
  • Getting emotional support
  • Regular stress relief
  • Eating healthy food
  • Getting a sufficient amount of sleep

Conclusion: What is Performance Anxiety? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is performance anxiety; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention tips; we have realized that PA could impact your life very badly if you leave it untreated. If you’re dealing with it, then you should consult the nearest therapist in your area if the preventions tips don’t work out.