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  6 August 2015
  Dr. Paul Koeck
  Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a type of anxiety which seems to become mor and more common. It has become sort of normal to hear that someone had a black-out during an exam. If you follow the news or see commercials on a regular basis, you will notice that more commercials regarding anti-stress medication are on during exam periods. But is taking medication really a good strategy? Does this solve performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety: what are the most common causes of performance anxiety?

In our modern society it is important to perform. In the past, studying at university was generally only for the elite. Nowadays, as good as everyone has the chance to study further, which is something that requires more input and performance. Many students namely experience pressure hanging overhead, because they need to perform well. This pressure can sometimes lead to the anxiety about failing becoming so large that you experience actual anxiety symptoms.
Except for experiencing pressure, low self-esteem is also a common cause of performance anxiety. This low self-esteem namely makes it so that you feel more anxious about failing. People who are insecure about themselves can experience more anxiety when it comes to failing. If these people then were to fail, this is something they find more difficult to process because they already had poor self-esteem. This way, they can be knocked off their horse for weeks at a time. Poor self-esteem thus is a very common cause of performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety: does medication cure the causes of performance anxiety?

Medication can be useful in some cases in order to give you some rest, so that you can study more easily. For example, if you are in the middle of your exam period and you do not have the time to treat the causes of performance anxiety, you can be supported by medication for a short period of time. However, it often is a good idea to treat the causes of performance anxiety. This can be done, for example, by following online therapy, which helps you look at how to reduce anxiety. In most cases it is so that medication does not remove the causes of performance anxiety, meaning it only helps while you keep taking it.

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