Testophobia - Phobia of Exams

Recently a girl Aarohi (name changed) of 24 years came to my clinic. When she came to meet me, she was crying, her eyes were red( which means she was crying since a long time), her hands were shaking, sweating, her body was trembling continuously, her breathing was shallow, increased palpitation. She was vomiting throughout the day. Her mother told that she is talking of jumping from the top her building since two days. Aarohi had a full blown panic attack when she came to meet me. The reason was she was appearing for C.A. exam and was unable to study.

This kind of reaction is seen in many students who appear for difficult exams. It’s a very normal reaction as the pressure of the syllabus is very difficult to manage. Students develop some unhealthy habits of studying, sleeping, eating which leads to imbalance in their body. Increased stress levels, negative self-talk, paranoid thinking, irrational demands from self, all this unconsciously increase their anxiety. When this anxiety is not managed or recognized by the care givers then it can lead to a full blown panic attack and testophobia. People who are perfectionist, who procrastinate, students who face lot of pressure and expectations from parents, ambitious persons, persons with anxious personality may face this type of problem.

The thoughts that come across in exam phobia (which trigger a panic reaction) can be:

· I cannot do it

· I cannot manage this pressure

· I am not capable of doing this

· I should get full marks or I should just not work for it.

· I do not deserve to be happy and relax when I have an important exam ahead

· I am a worthless person if I cannot pass this exam.

· Life is not worth living if I don’t achieve my goal.

· I must pass this test or I am a hopeless person

· If I pass this exam then only people will give importance to me.

· There is nothing worth living for in my life if I fail in this exam.

The exam, test becomes a matter of life or death for the students. If the students get obsessed with these thoughts then they are absolutely not in a position to focus on the task at hand.

How to manage testophobia? Can the kids get rid of this anxiety? Is it a life-long problem?

There are so many questions that arise in parents mind. The answer is, it can be managed very well. Let us see what all you can do as a parent, teacher and as a student as well.

· It is very helpful to follow a routine even when you are studying for exams. Like continue your extracurricular classes, pursue a hobby, watch your favorite serial, enjoy a hot cup of tea, swimming, a walk in the park, taking to someone, whatever relaxes you.

· It is very important to take breaks during studies and not feel guilty about wasting time.

· Drink lot of water. Especially when anxiety levels increase it helps if we drink water and wash our face with cold water.

· Eat healthy food and your desert to lift up your spirits

· Make a time table of studies and follow it.

· When you start your studies, start with the most difficult part of the syllabus.

· Stop procrastinating your work, studies, responsibilities as they pile up add to your anxiety levels.

· Decrease your distractions around you but don’t stay alone.

· Become aware of your negative thoughts which trigger the anxiety response.

· Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. It takes lot of practice. This should become a part of your personality, your habit.

· As habit formation takes lot of time, replacing your thoughts will also take lot of time. Therefore if students start working on their thoughts before the exam, it will be of no use instead it will add up to the anxiety.

· Using relaxation therapy or SHAWASAN in yoga daily helps to become conscious of your own body. A slight change in anxiety response of your body also gets noticed and can be handled and reduced.

For Parents:

· Parents need to be extremely patient. Nagging does not help at all.

· Showing confidence and not pressurizing for marks works better with testophobic students.

· If parents give importance to efforts instead of marks, it sets a good attitude towards any exam the student starts preparing for.

· If the focus is on marks and grades the pressure automatically shoots up.

· Students are very sensitive towards their parent’s attitude. If parents pass any casual remarks also it is taken very seriously. So be cautious while talking about studies.

· Taking anti-anxiety pills helps in managing anxiety levels. It is recommended only for students who experience recurrent anxiety attacks. Allopathy and homeopathy both have good medicines to manage anxiety. But parent’s positive approach towards medication is of extreme importance.

· Parents think that their child will be labeled as a mental patient if he/she is consulting a psychiatrist or even a counselor.

Helping your child perform as per his capacity is what every parent strives to do. Going for counseling is not considered a taboo now a day at least in metro cities. But taking medication for managing anxiety is still not accepted in our society. We all take medicine for fever which is a symptom of some medical condition. In the same way anxiety is a symptom of some inner fears and conflicts. So taking medicine for anxiety gives a temporary relief which is important especially during exam period. And counseling or psychotherapy is needed to tackle the root cause.

We hope our readers understand the importance of managing exam anxiety and get some insight in this disabling mental state.

For any further discussion or counseling contact the writer .

By :

Swapna Vithalkar ( About Her )

Expert Psychologist

Contact Her : 9657720516.

Your feedback is awaited.

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