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Don't let exam phobia overtake you: Expert

It's a common occurrence in kids who are pampered but sometimes parents also play a catalytic role, adding to child's woes, say expert.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 02, 2004 14:39 IST
Sanjay Kumar Singh (
Sanjay Kumar Singh (

Sixteen-year-old Shilpa is facing her class 10 board exams. A nagging fear that she won't be able to perform well in her forthcoming exams haunts her. She complains of vomiting, severe tension and anxiety.

Rahul, another student appearing for his 12th exams, is tense and nervous as soon as he sees the question paper. He starts sweating profusely and is unable to concentrate. He knows the answers to all the questions, yet he is swamped by these feelings.

Shilpa and Rahul are not isolated cases. Students facing examinations usually experience these symptoms and even adults' experience such feelings when they face interviews.

In students, the abnormality is often labelled as examination phobia and is a common occurrence in kids who are pampered. But sometimes parents also play a catalytic role, adding to the child's woes. "Parents set an unachievable target without analysing the capacity of the child. They very often try to impose their unfulfilled desires on their children. This generates performance anxiety in kids leading to examination phobia", says Dr Himanshu Saxena, consultant psychiatrist and a hypnotist at Jaipur Golden Hospital, Delhi.

Anxiety thus generated gets attached to all examination stimuli in a child's brain. A deficiency of bio-chemical agents called neurotransmitters in some children leads to tension and anxiety.

"Parents should not be over-protective. They should allow the child to explore the world. This enables the child to develop an independent attitude and acquire greater frustration tolerance level", says Dr Himanshu.

Experts suggest some measures which can help dissipate tension and anxiety. Whenever one is tense and experiences anxiety, one should try to relax the body muscles. This is a very good relaxation technique and can be practiced for few minutes just before the start of the examination, say expert.

In case of severe problems when the child is not able to cope up with the pressure, parents should seek the help of psychiatrists for counselling or hypnotherapy.

Due to past conditioning, nervousness often gets attached to examination scenarios in the child's subconscious mind. Under hypnosis, nervousness is removed from the examination situation and relaxation is added, so that the child remains relaxed. In certain cases, medication may also be prescribed to achieve this end in severe cases, opines an expert.

First Published: Mar 01, 2004 15:49 IST