There are no antidepressants that are effective for performance anxiety, also known as stage fright. Antidepressants are effective for all the other types of anxiety, but they are not effective for performance anxiety. The other types of anxiety for which antidepressants are effective include social phobia (social anxiety disorder- SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The antidepressants which are prescribed for these types of anxiety include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Although performance anxiety is a form of social anxiety disorder, performance anxiety only occurs in discreet episodes, whenever you are performing in front of an audience. On the other hand, social anxiety disorder (social phobia) occurs whenever you are exposed to any groups of people, regardless if you are performing in front of them or not. So for discreet social anxiety that occurs in stage fright when performing in front of an audience, then antidepressants are not effective.
For performance anxiety, the best medication are beta blockers, such as propranolol. It does require a prescription, so you would have to visit your doctor. So say you have anxiety speaking to an audience. Just the thought of standing there in front of all those people just gives you an instant anxiety attack. This is what the propranolol will help you for- it will help you to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety which get in the way of your performance. Taking propranolol right before speaking to an audience will help to prevent the racing and pounding heartbeat, and will help to prevent the tremors, such as your knees shaking. Why propranolol works is that it blocks the effect of adrenaline, which is released from the adrenal glands (on top of your kidneys) in response to fear and anxiety- also known as the fight or flight response. So when you take propranolol right before talking to a group of people, you don’t get the racing/pounding heartbeat and the trembling knees.
photo credit: razgriz2520 Gita Arifin Pratiwi via photopin (license)
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