Performance anxiety (also known as situational anxiety) relates to any situation in which you feel anxious when performing. This doesn’t exclusively mean performing in front of an audience or crowd, as it can apply to performing a relatively simple task in public. This anxiety usually stems from a belief of not being able to perform the task adequately, and then being judged negatively by others as a result.
Performance anxiety is a common condition, which is often classified as a social phobia. Performance anxiety or ‘stage fright’ can affect a wide array of people, including; surgeons, actors, athletes, students, pilots, and public speakers.
While most people will feel a level of anxiety when performing in public, for those with performance anxiety, this trepidation is intensified to the extent where the performer is intensely mindful of humiliation, embarrassment, and public scrutiny. This fear can cause the sufferer to freeze, making them unable to perform the task at hand.
Performance anxiety has led some sufferers to abandon successful careers. In other cases, sufferers may choose to self-medicate with alcohol or recreational drugs.