UPDATE: A few months ago, Adele gave her first live on-stage concert performance in three years. She also released one of the top selling albums - ever! Adele had taken time off to totally recover from throat microsurgery and to focus on motherhood. The 27-year-old star, once again, triumphed over any performance anxiety while confessing that she was nervous before taking the stage. And more recently, she performed to four sold-out crowds in Manchester (UK), won Best Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards, and is at the top of her musical game.

Many actors, musicians and athletes have struggled with performance anxiety or fear of public speaking triggered by pressure to excel in front of large groups of people. Some experience it without any previous history, while others may be chronically afflicted. Despite being at the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart, singer Adele has revealed that she suffers from severe anxiety attacks that limit her ability to perform in large arenas. While posing for the cover of Q Magazine, the 23-year-old British singing sensation, whose soulful ballad, “Rolling in the Deep" became a top hit in several countries, stated that she often suffers from extreme anxiety attacks when performing for large audiences. She explained that she will not be participating in any large music festivals as a result of her anxiety.

Panic Attacks Happen at the Worst Times

She experiences fear and a racing heart when facing large audiences and is afraid these reactions will cause her to run from the stage and disappoint countless fans. She recalled past experiences at shows in Amsterdam and Brussels when nerves led to vomiting and drove her to escape using a fire exit. In addition to stage fright, Adele told Rolling Stone Magazine that she suffered from a severe panic attack just before meeting her idol, Beyonce. She reports then being deeply moved and surprised when the star praise her, likening her voice to God's.

Panic attacks occur when a person experiences a brief period of extreme fear along with a negative feeling that something horrible is either already happening or about to happen. Symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fears of impending doom and danger

While not actually dangerous, the symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening to the person experiencing them. Those intense worries fuel additional anxiety and can further escalate the attack.

When repeated panic attacks also result in ongoing fears of new attacks that lead to changes or disruptions in daily routines, panic disorder may be diagnosed. Fortunately, treatments, including in particular, have been found to be highly effective. CBT-driven applications, such as the ABCtracker™, can also be effective in helping reduce panic attacks. By monitoring associated triggers and beliefs. Medications are also sometimes prescribed depending on the severity of the case.

Adele and Her Performance Anxiety

The daughter of a teenage mother, Adele (born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins) has been estranged from her father since the age of three, modeling her powerful and sultry voice after musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Roberta Flack. She has attained critical acclaim for her lyrics and music, winning two Grammy Awards in 2009 in the categories of Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Adele has turned down several lucrative offers to perform in venues throughout the world due to her condition. She has expressed a strong preference for performing in intimate, low-key venues, even though those settings do not generate nearly as much income.

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Date of original publication:

Updated: March 08, 2016