Glossophobia – speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking

Symptoms include:

* intense anxiety prior to, or simply at the thought of having to verbally communicate with any group,

* avoidance of events which focus the group’s attention on individuals in attendance,

* physical distress, nausea, or feelings of panic in such circumstances.[1]

The more specific symptoms of speech anxiety can be grouped into three categories: physical, verbal, and non-verbal. Physical symptoms result from the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) responding to the situation with a fight or flight reaction. Since the modus operandi of the symphatetic system is all-or-nothing, adrenalin secretion produces a wide array of symptoms at once – all of which are supposed to enhance your ability to fight or escape a dangerous scenario. These symptoms include acute hearing, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils, increased perspiration, increased oxygen intake, stiffening of neck/upper back muscles, and dry mouth. Some of these may be alleviated by drugs such as beta-blockers, which bind to the adrenalin receptors of the heart, for example. The verbal symptoms include, but are not limited to a tense voice, a quivering voice, and repetition of Umms and Ahhs vocalized pauses which tend to comfort anxious speakers. One form of speech anxiety is dysfunctional speech anxiety, in which the intensity of the fight or flight response prevents an individual from performing effectively.

Treatment for Glossophobia

Glossophobia can be successfully treated in a variety of ways. One of the most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy. You will learn to replace your messages of fear with more positive self-talk. You will learn relaxation techniques and what to do when you experience a panic attack. You will gradually confront your fear in a safe and controlled environment.

Medications may also be prescribed to help you get control of your fear. These medicines are generally used in conjunction with therapy rather than on their own.

Once you have successfully worked through the worst of your fear, you might want to consider joining a speaking group such as Toastmasters. These groups can help you polish your public speaking skills through repetition and constructive criticism from fellow members. Building confidence in your ability to speak in public can further reduce your anxiety.

Glossophobia is common, and in some cases it can be life-limiting. However, the success rate for treatment is extremely high. The first step is to find a therapist that you trust who can help you work through the fear.

A wide variety of things can cause glossophobia, and often the cause is complex, with several factors being involved. One common reason to become glossophobic is childhood trauma, or even traumatic situations which occur as an adult. It can also be caused by a tendency to avoid public speaking, which can create anxiety around the idea of public speaking, thus causing someone to become glossophobic. The condition can also be related to psychological conditions which may require complex treatment.