Stage fright

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Stage fright or performance anxiety refers to an anxiety, fear or persistent phobia related to performance in front of an audience or camera. This form of anxiety can precede or accompany participation in any activity involving public self-presentation.


Often the term "stage fright" or topophobia is conflated with glossophobia, a fear of speaking in public. Jugglers and mimes are the simplest examples of the difference in notions.

Performance anxiety is also observed in sportsmen. In the latter case it is interpreted as a fear to underperform (in view of the actual public or implied publicity).

Quite often stage fright arises in a mere anticipation of a performance, often long time ahead. It has numerous manifestations: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in hands and legs, diarrhea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth.

Stage fright may be observed in ordinary people, beginning artists, as well as in accomplished ones. Some musicians use beta blockers to avoid stage fright during auditions, and performances.[1] In other cases, performers use alcoholic beverages to ease their stage fright. There have been many cases in which this habit has led to alcoholism.


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