Stage Fright

Stage fright is a kind of performance anxiety associated with performing in front of a large audience. Musicians, singers, people giving speeches, and anyone else who must perform in front of a group may experience stage fright.

What Are the Symptoms of Stage Fright?

Stage fright is not a mental disorder. Rather, it is a normal reaction to a stressful situation. Most people experience some degree of anxiety prior to a performance, but some people may experience more extreme anxiety that interferes with their ability to perform at all. People with diagnosed anxiety may be more prone to stage fright.

Common symptoms of stage fright include:

  • Excessive sweating, heart palpitations, chills, and elevated blood pressure
  • A feeling that there is a knot in the stomach
  • Increased errors during the performance
  • Shaking and nausea
  • Backing out of the performance

Because stage fright can interfere with performance, it is often self-perpetuating. A person with stage fright may recall a bad performance, become concerned about the current performance, and then make more errors than her or she might otherwise. There is some evidence that people get more anxious before performing in front of their peers. For example, a music school student might be more anxious performing in front of his or her classmates than he or she would be performing at a concert for strangers.

How Is Stage Fright Treated?

Because stage fright is not a diagnosable mental health condition, it does not typically warrant treatment. However, people who must perform in front of a group regularly for their profession–such as lawyers, singers, musicians, artists, and celebrities–may experience career setbacks if they cannot get past their stage fright. People with stage fright can meet with a therapist to address their fears or take classes on public speaking or communication to increase their performance skills and sense of confidence. In some cases, physicians may prescribe anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax to people with stage fright. These medications are taken shortly before a performance to lessen one’s anxiety.

Lifestyle changes can also help ease stage fright. For example, decreasing caffeine intake, remaining hydrated, and eating a good meal before a performance may help some people. Deep breathing, meditation, and exercise can also help alleviate anxiety.


  1. Colman, A. M. (2006). Oxford dictionary of psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Last Updated: 08-26-2015

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  • bethany


    May 15th, 2017 at 12:10 PM

    I am doin a project on stage fright and this was helpful so thank you

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