Public Speaking Panic Attack

Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking panic attack or stage fright in layman terms stems from fear of public speaking or a subconscious memory of a public embarrassment in the past. Public speaking with great flair is not a common skill. However what is very common is fear of public speaking. Despite this most of us though not great orators manage to give our speech without becoming a blurry eyed, sweaty, dizzy mess. Sadly this is not true for those suffering from public speaking panic attack which usually renders the speaker to collapse or very near collapse interrupting the flow of a convincing speech performance.

Panic attacks also called anxiety attacks are usually triggered by anticipation of a panic attack. That does not mean that the individual beset by it is wrung out with anxiety all the time as in an anxiety disorder. Panic attacks are triggered when facing the feared situation. So public speaking despite being a remarkably harmless and non-life threatening scenario is construed by the mind as a potentially harmful situation. This sets off the body’s natural fright or flight response resulting in a heightened sense of readiness characterized by trembling, shallow rapid breathing, rapid heartbeats, chest pain, a choking or smothering sensation, hot or cold flashes, tingling sensations, blushing, nausea, shaky voice, and an inability to speak. These signs further alarm the individual as they believe that they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown and about to collapse. A single exposure to this frightening response to public speaking is usually sufficient to induce a self-fulfilling vicious cycle. The very anticipation of this physical response will lead to a full-fledged panic attack each time the individual is faced with the prospect of giving a public speech.

Medications for this Panic Disorder

Anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed for panic attacks, however they do not cure or prevent the disorder. Most medications that are prescribed for panic attacks will only work as long as they are taken. For the medications to be effective you often have to take these drugs at higher than recommended doses.

Social Anxiety Disorder

That is not to say panic attacks; especially public speaking panic attacks cannot be conquered. However the key to conquering them lies in your mind rather than with any drug. Think about your fear and what triggers your panic. Learn to read your body signals and give it instructions to relax. Forego any arousal increasing stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine on the day and the day before you have to make your speech. Systematic desensitization is a technique that can be done alone or with the help of a therapist depending on how comfortable you feel facing your fears. Realize that a panic attack is just that a panic attack, it is not a heart attack nor will it harm your body in any way. Start visualizing yourself on the podium giving speech. Systematically desensitize yourself from your fear by training yourself to speak in front of a small group of friends. Practice this with increasingly larger groups.

Enjoy the opportunity to speak to a crowd as you begin to regain confidence in your ability to carry through a speech without being touched by a bout of public speaking panic attack.


Related terms: Public Speaking Problems, Anxiety Attacks in Public, Anxiety Attack Public Speaking

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