Medication to reduce public speaking panic?

Originally Published: April 30, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 9, 2006
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Dear Alice,

I am a young lawyer, and when I have to present in courts, I get REALLY nervous, my whole body is shaking, including my face, and I can hardly speak. I tried all kinds of relaxing techniques, such as breathing, meditation, hypnosis, etc. Nothing helps. What shall I do? It is a serious problem for me. Is there any medication that may prevent me from shaking? Please answer. Thank you very much.

Dear Reader,

Stage fright, whether the stage is the classroom or the courtroom, affects countless numbers of people around the world. Many people are familiar — some are all too familiar — with the changes in the body that come with the anxiety of having to speak in front of others. A pounding, racing heart, shaky hands, and a trembling voice can make speeches, performances, and/or presentations unnecessarily difficult, if not impossible.

Luckily, there's good news: a variety of methods have been shown to be effective in reducing the described nervousness, including medications. One category of drugs that is of note is beta-blockers. These drugs block the effect of adrenaline in certain parts of the body and reduce the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety, such as blushing, sweating, palpitations, hyperventilation, and tremors. They do not, however, actually treat the psychological component of anxiety; they only control the physical symptoms. Also, beta-blockers can be used on an as-needed basis, which is helpful for situations that only happen every so often or when performance anxiety is predictable.

Since so many other methods of controlling your anxiety have been unsuccessful, maybe it's time to visit your health care provider. There, you can discuss the possibility of taking medication for your stage fright. Be frank about any pre-existing medical conditions and about any medications you may be taking, as they could be important to know before taking beta-blockers.

If you're interested in reading more about public speaking, pick up 10 Days to More Confident Public Speaking by the Princeton Language Institute and Lenny Laskowski and/or In The SpotLight: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing by Janet E. Esposito.

Best of luck with fighting the stage fright!

Alice

June 9, 2006

21091

Alice,

I, too, have been very nervous in the past when speaking in front of groups of people. Even froze once. Very embarrassing. I used to act in a lot of plays years ago and when doing so...

Alice,

I, too, have been very nervous in the past when speaking in front of groups of people. Even froze once. Very embarrassing. I used to act in a lot of plays years ago and when doing so would be performing in front of hundreds of people at times, but I never got nearly as nervous as I did when speaking in public. I got over that by pretending I was just acting in another role! 'Acting' on stage and 'speaking' in public are really two different things. When you pretend you're 'acting' instead of 'speaking', you'll feel more at ease and no one will know the difference. Give it a try. Just be sure you 'learn your lines!' Break a leg!