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mass_pike4's avatar

Do you think I should get anxiety pills?

Asked by mass_pike4 (2083points) December 27th, 2009

I am a good natured person and am quite friendly around my friends, family, and will even spark up conversations with random strangers. However, when it comes to public speaking, I simply cannot do it. I jumble words around, make up weird words, and sometimes do not speak proper sentences. I get so nervous, even considering that I breath deeply in preparation and find my happy place. As soon as I have to begin speaking, my mind races and I cannot put my thoughts together quick enough. My heart races and I get all paranoid that everyone can see my heart thumping through my shirt and that my legs are shaking. My voice just sounds like a nervous person’s voice.

I have had this problem all my life. I am 22 now and about to graduate college and yet this is still my main concern. I understand that public speaking is our races #1 fear, but this is ridiculous. I want this to stop asap, so I need your advice…are anxiety pills the way to go? What is the best medication for this problem? Do you have this problem? How did you manage it? What is your best suggestion(s) for me?

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26 Answers

SeventhSense's avatar

No. Not for public speaking. This is a learned skill and the majority of people have strong emotional responses to standing up before an audience.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Nope. Teach Sunday school, or work with a church youth group, or something similar. It will knock the anxiety right out of you. Failing that, Toastmasters is an international speaking organization that trains people on how to speak. It’s a club, it’s pretty much free, barring a small membership fee to join.

Practice makes perfect. I did have horrible anxiety, and that’s how I fixed it—working with kids.

Theby's avatar

Public speaking can cause anxiety in even the most confident individuals so I would not take any anti-anxiety medication for this. I think it is just a case of getting used to speaking. Try not to look at the crowd; look over their heads. Remember they are just like you and me. No better or no worse. Good luck.

gailcalled's avatar

I am now comfortable speaking in front of large crowds but learned the skill gradually.

Start with a very small audience…your two best friends, perhaps. Know your subject material really well.

Add to your audience, one person at a time.

I find I always do better with notes rather than a complete speech.

But if you are having true panic attacks, maybe half a valium for the first few times to take the edge off would help. Talk to Doc.

jules96's avatar

I don’t think you should take the medicine for public speaking. I’ve had to take anxiety pills for insomnia, but public speaking is something people just work on. I practice in front of friends and family and have been gradually getting better at it for school and such, but my voice still gets shaky and mixed up sometimes. People won’t judge you for a lack of speaking skills, and when I remember that, it actually helps me relax.

Darwin's avatar

See if you can find a chapter of Toastmasters near you. By the time you have finished the first book you will have learned a lot of the basics about public speaking or, as they put it, you will have taught your butterflies to fly in formation. The first speech they have you do is one about yourself, since it is the subject you know best. Then each subsequent speech attacks a different aspect of public speaking. In addition, the club has very strict rules about members providing only constructive criticism.

While Valium or another anti-anxiety drug can help in the short term (I was first able to sing on stage thanks to Valium), in the long run you need to learn how to appear calm in front of an audience. I also find that as far as stage acting goes, Valium cuts out the “edge” that the extra energy from your anxiety provides, making your performance a bit flat.

dpworkin's avatar

Some actors who have persistent stage fright take Beta Blockers but unless this is seriously interfering with your ability to conduct your life normally, I would just forget about it. You share this particular anxiety with millions of others.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

You can get addicted to anti anxiety meds which can ultimately lead you to suicide…
Be wary following that path.

dpworkin's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien has a point. Valium and other benzodiazapines are habituating, and should only be taken under medical advice.

mass_pike4's avatar

ya when I saw people mentioning valium, i thought oh no not for me. I guess the consensus is to stick things out. I can do it right? Thanks for the help everyone!

Violet's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien I think telling people that “which can ultimately lead you to suicideā€¦” is very misleading. How many people die each year from suicide due to anti anxiety pills?

Violet's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien according to the FDA, in 2007, there only 12 suicides directly related to anti anxiety pills.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

@Violet Mix those pills with alcohol and come back with your revised opinion.

Violet's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien if a person mixes any pill with alcohol, it can be deadly. On the label of all anti anxiety pill bottle, it clearly says not to drink alcohol when taking the pills. So now you’re saying, a person has to drink and take anti anxiety to commit suicide? Maybe instead of telling people that anti anxiety pills will lead to suicide, you tell people taking anti anxiety pills should not be mixed with alcohol, because it can be deadly.

Violet's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien are what are the actual rates of suicides? Having a warning is fine. If you are so against anti anxiety, why are you not attacking alcohol? You are on a slippery slope.
Also, antidepressants and anti anxiety pill are not the same thing

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

@Violet, @mass_pike4 asked about anxiety pills, not alcohol. I am not on any slope at all.

Violet's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien you brought up alcohol:
“Mix those pills with alcohol and come back with your revised opinion.”
antidepressants are not the same as anti anxiety pills
“All antidepressants are required by the FDA to carry a warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts, hostility, and agitation”
so no one should take anti anxiety pills?

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

Take them at your own risk, I believe is what the warning means.

Violet's avatar

I didn’t mean to be rude or insult you. I was just suggesting that you may want to warn people in a different way. Instead of saying “You can get addicted to anti anxiety meds which can ultimately lead you to suicideā€¦
Be wary following that path.”
I think it would be better to say, “anti anxiety may be addicting/habit forming” and give the facts about the suicide rates, or FDA warning. For someone who truly needs anti anxiety pills, your warning may scare them from getting the help they need.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

Thank you for that insightful attempt to critique my wording of my warning. I stand by my original statement.

SirGoofy's avatar

Two fingers of Jack Daniels, 10 minutes before you speak. Makes you alot funnier, too!!

gailcalled's avatar

@SirGoofy: Sorry, but it only makes you think you are funny.

@Kelly Obrien; You make lots of good points. Consider posting them together in one answer.

jsf's avatar

I did exactly what Sirgoofy recommended years ago for a speech. I had the whole class in stitches. But you’re right, there are no guarantees. I’m no public speaking pro but if you know the information you’re presenting on well, I have found that any speaking in public will go a lot more smoothly. On the other hand, I suffer from anxiety all the time in public situation and it’s something that I just bear. My recommendation to anyone that is suffering from anxiety that is holding you back, is to brave whatever your afraid of. A life with anxiety today is better than another day wasted being a slave to the fear that keeps you from your goals. I’ve lived this advice for the past couple years and had some of the happiest times of my life.

I’ve never stopped considering medication. But until I get on medication, if I ever do, I won’t let it hold me back any longer.

Good luck!

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