Stage fright, anxiety

I am a 35 years old male engineer. I have a high-level stage freight and social anxiety. Due to the nature of my job, I have to present in front of a bunch of people once or twice a week. Every time I have to present, I panic to the utmost level and lots of symptoms including pacing pulse, dry mouth, tight throat, hand and legs shaking/shivering, trembling voice, loss of concentration, rapid and short breathing, nausea, vomiting feeling in my stomach, etc. appear all together. I have to use several strong medicines every time prior to the presentation to reduce this symptoms to some extent. However, I am really tired of having medicine and I really wish to be able to perform one day without using these medicines. More importantly, I believe these medicines have very bad side effects. I have tried almost everything recommended in the books and none of them worked, because of the high level of my panic and fear. I have heard the Cognitive Health Therapy with a group of people might help but I could not find a place that practice it and really works. I would greatly appreciate your help and your suggestions.

4 Replies

  • hi, you are suffering quite a lot and looking for support in the right place. yes, CBT is an amazing approach for tackling anxiety. It is 'evidence' based, looking at whether our thinking is actually rational etc... It tackles 'avoidance behaviours' and looks at the thought processes in specific ways, ie, automatic thought and catastrophic thought. Anxiety is the result of a certain way of thinking, fear based and is often totally irrational. Spend a few minutes writing down what your greatest fear is about your presentation and what you believe would be the result if the worst was to happen. then, look at the actual evidence for these beliefs. How likely is it that your beliefs are true? This is a very simplistic explanation, hope you get the general idea?

  • Thank you so much for you comment Deborah. I have actually tried to write down my fears and the results that would happen in worst case scenario. These seem to all work prior to the presentation, but I really don't know what happens that I totally lose my control and concentration when there are people looking at me. What I am trying to say is that, so far none of the recommended methods has worked for me in the real situation or I have not dared to go for a presentation without medical treatment. I know the main reason goes back to when I was a teenager and had to have a presentation in front of people for the very first time and it was a very bad experience that I could not even finish the presentation, and actually that was the first time I get to know these awkward feelings and symptoms exist.

    I believe the reason is that I did not have enough time to develop my experience of presenting something in front of people and all of a sudden I had to jump to a higher level to present in front of a lot of people before experiencing smaller group presentation in advance. That very bad experience ruined the rest of my life regarding presenting myself and my work.

    I think the only solution is practicing what I missed to practice during my childhood and I need to be exposed to the real situation step by step.

  • you are so right. just try to remember that you are not that young teenager anymore, you have gone on to build a career despite that bad experience. you haven't been told that you are a poor presenter, you must successfully do the job or you would know about it by now! lol. you sound like a really lovely guy, sensitive and interested in trying to do your best. another thing is that there is actually nothing worse than an over-confident stuffed shirt, most people ( including myself ) prefer a human being with a few insecurities and a sense of humour. presentations can be so mind-numbingly tedious at the best of times! keep chatting on this forum, we all need each other at times.

  • Thank you very much for your nice comment and compliment. I try my best to finally overcome my fears. :)

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