What Is Performance Anxiety?

Performance Anxiety is the fear or nervousness experienced during a performance and is commonly referred to as stage fright. Performance Anxiety, can either help or hinder a performance. Some anxiety benefits us by focusing our attention towards a performance task. When this anxiety becomes too great, it can overwhelm us, scattering our concentration, which can lead to a poorer performance. People with extreme levels of performance anxiety sometimes feel depressed as a result of their distress.

Performance Anxiety is experienced by students, amateur performers, and professional artists, and others who are highly skilled in a particular task. It can feel like extreme tension or apprehension in the face of performing a certain task in public, like a music recital in a large concert hall in front of your peers and music experts, or having a social game of golf with your friends. And it happens to children, adolescents, and adults.

What does extreme performance anxiety feel like? Many people...

...feel physical sensations like:

  • fast, shallow breathing (hyperventilating)
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • racing pulse
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth

...think things like:

  • I'm not good enough
  • I'm going to fail
  • I fail everything
  • Nobody likes me
  • It's hopeless, why bother?


  • have a Panic Attack, wanting to escape from the situation as quickly as possible
  • avoid similar performance situations and opportunities in future