Performance anxiety: what is it?

Performance anxiety is a common type of anxiety where one is scared of failure. Performance anxiety paralyzes students in the form of exam anxiety, or stops people from properly finishing their work. Often, performance anxiety leads to forced procrastinating behavior: because you avoid things they remain unfinished. This then bothers you, your self-confidence reduces, and your anxiety increases. This way you end up in a vicious cycle of negative anxiety and stress.

Are exam nerves a type of performance anxiety?

Exam nerves make up a common type of performance anxiety. Students with exam anxiety tend to show flight-like behavior by walking away from their books or courses. This makes their conscience bother them even more, increasing their performance anxiety, then causing the student to run from studying even more, without realizing what causes this behavior.

Is performance anxiety an anxiety disorder?

Performance anxiety is often the first sign of an oncoming anxiety disorder. In that sense it is definitely recommended to start treatment of performance anxiety as early on as possible: the longer you wait, the more difficult it gets to treat. This is because the anxiety will likely develop into a type of anticipation anxiety - or with other words: fear of fear.

Performance anxiety and low self-esteem

Often, performance anxiety is found in people with poor self-esteem, meaning not only the performance anxiety needs to be treated, but the underlying self-esteem, too. This is the reason why the online self-help program 15Minutes4Me deals with anxiety as well as with low self-esteem by improving them and offering anti-worrying exercises to reduce worrying and negative thoughts. From experience we have found that people who start doing these anti-worrying exercises right away when they start the program, quickly feel better. On average, stress and anxiety are reduced by 77% during the first month of using the online self-help program.

Performance anxiety: test it with an online self-test

Nowadays it is very easy to test your performance anxiety or underlying anxiety quickly online. We developed a simple self-test to do this, consisting of 21 short questions, evaluating whether or not you suffer from some type of anxiety or anxiety disorder. Take the free anxiety test here online!

Paul Koeck, MD