Student nurse with anxiety disorder...worsening.



I am a student nurse. I suffer from social anxiety and notice that I get really nervous doing skills check-offs and communicating to the group,(my anxiety seems to be worse now that school has started). I do take Effexor XR, but it doesn't seem to help now that I'm actually "doing" nursing stuff. I can't really take Propranolol-type drugs because I already have really low blood pressure and high pulse.

I don't want my anxiety ruining this for me. I need to overcome these fears. Has anyone had a similar experience, how did you deal with it?

I know I need to just work through it, etc., but in the meantime, just fearing that I'm shaky and my voice constantly cracking is making me even more nervous.

Thanks for any suggestions!

rn/writer, RN

17 Articles; 4,168 Posts

Welcome to, Emily.

First, I want to let you know (and remind members) that we can't comment on the medical aspect of your condition. That's something you need to discuss with your health care provider. But there are other things you can do to reduce your anxiety, and we can talk about some of those.

If you are not part of a study group, that might be a good thing to look into. Pick people who seem stable and mature. Without divulging unnecessary details, let them know that you struggle with feeling nervous, especially about clinical check-offs. Maybe several of you can go to the nursing lab and rehearse the procedures--on mannequins or each other.

By starting with a smaller group, you may develop a few allies and a bit of confidence. This can amount to a kind of exposure therapy. The more you participate (even if it's just in small steps), the more you will have a chance to increase your comfort level.

If your hands shake when doing the check-offs, see if there is a way to brace your fingers, wrists, forearms, or elbows to reduce the tremors. My hands shake at times, and I have found it extremely helpful to do this.

Instead of focusing on how anxious you feel, try instead directing your attention toward something else in the room or substituting some other topic in your mind. You can't just stop feeling nervous, but you may be able to redirect that energy into planning a meal or going over another area of study while you're waiting for your turn. Anything is better than standing there thinking about how anxious you feel.

You also might find it beneficial to do some kind of physical activity before a stressful class. Instead of trying to keep a lid on the tension, let it loose. If you can't exercise, try giving your hands and arms a really good shaking for a minute or so. This can give you an emotional boost as well as help you to relax.

Finally, never underestimate the power of humor. Carry with you some reading material that can give you a chuckle. If you are at all able to make light of your nervousness, you might be able to make a connection with those around you who might otherwise assume you're aloof and cold. And you could well discover that someone else in the group shares your anxiety and would be grateful to offer mutual support.

I'm sure others will add to this list. Let us know if anything helps.

Best wishes to you.


38 Posts


I suffer from social anxiety also so i can relate to some extent. i am not in the nursing program yet, but i already worry about it when it does happen (probably the worst thing i can do) it is funny you wrote this bc i wanted to express my own feelings and look for some helpful advice. im starting today to work on my anxiety so that it is not that severe when the time does come.

My advice to you from someone experiencing the same thing is to just try and relax. i know when i get those sudden panic episodes i try and tell my inner self to relax and it is just my mind playing another trick on me. as i continue to repeatedly run this thought in my head i begin to calm down and gain more control of my own body. another great thing to do is direct your attention to something else. try noticing a picture or poster on the wall and examine it in detail. look at the colors, the fine lines, what is happening, etc. break the entire image down, it will help time pass and take your mind off what you might be thinking that is making you nervous.

also be confident. i also lack this important skill, it is hard to believe in yourself at time, but with determination and hard work you can do anything you want, believe in that and write it down and glance at it whenever possible. do find some others in the class and begin studying together. it does truly help. i did my first semester with AP I and it helped tremendously.

my last advice to you would be hang in there, it will all be worth it in the end. just stay positive and focused. realize you are studying to help others, but at the same time you are working to become a better you. we will never stop learning in life, so dont bring yourself down if you are nervous and dont know, after all we are just human. i wish you well, you will be fine, take care