Afraid of Public Speaking

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am 15 years old but have has this problem for at least 4 years. If I am ever in a situation such as giving a speech, standing in front of my class or something like that when I’m in a situation where I feel nervous of worried. But just recently for my birthday we went out for tea and I was really excited and happy but shortly after we got there I didn’t feel myself, I felt like I was dreaming and I didn’t feel like eating. It wasn’t until we left the restaurant and came back home that I started feeling normal again. I hate feeling like that because I feel like in the future for example when I get my drivers license I will ‘space out’ and feel dreamy again. Please help

A: It’s not at all unusual for people to be nervous about standing up and presenting in front of other people. I suspect that the majority of people would tell you it’s not their favorite thing. That’s why millions of people read books and go to workshops about how to make presentations without shaking in their shoes. Often people get more comfortable with practice.

What concerns me is that you haven’t. Four years is a long time to be dreading every time you have to give a report or speak up in class. Of more concern is that the problem is spilling over into things that you want to do as well as things you have to do.

I can’t offer an official diagnosis on the basis of an email, of course. But I can suggest that you see a counselor to be evaluated for social anxiety disorder. If that’s the case, some therapy to teach you tools for dealing with anxiety might help.

I do suggest you start with some coaching before you consider medication. Medication might be a quick way to calm down but I wouldn’t want you to get dependent on pills for managing stress. Stress is a normal part of life and we all have to learn to deal with it. Often some cognitive behavioral therapy is enough. If not, medication is always an option. Work with a counselor for a few months and see what happens.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Feb 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Afraid of Public Speaking. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/12/afraid-of-public-speaking-2/

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