Carson Daly Shares Struggle With Anxiety and Panic Attacks

“It’s something that I can’t change about myself. In fact, it’s okay. I’ve learned to embrace it and hopefully by just being honest and opening up it’ll inspire others to do the same,” Daly said on ‘Today.’

Following NBA player Kevin Love’s revelation of his struggle with anxiety, Carson Daly was inspired to share his own experience with mental health on Friday’s episode of the Today show.

The Voice host explained that he has been a “worrywart” for most of his life. “My father died when I was 5. I had an ulcer when I was in high school. I’ve been nervous my whole life. My very first panic attack happened — and, by the way, I had no idea what it was at the time — when I was a host at MTV,” he revealed. “The success of my career, I flew to New York, and my life changed overnight. I had a hard time breathing. I was terrified for no apparent reason.”

Daly experienced such severe panic attacks that he admitted himself to the hospital. “You feel like you’re dying,” he said. During a hospital visit, leads (which connects the heart and the source of an artificial pacemaker) were put on his chest to monitor his heart. His thought process during the experience was that he was gong to die. “I’m like, my heart is going to stop, or I’m going to have a heart attack, and of course you’re perfectly fine,” he said.

The host admitted that his career of being in front of cameras is not the source of his anxiety. “People think, they hear anxiety, anxiety, high-pressure life, you’re on television. It’s nothing to do with that,” he said. “I’ve had heightened anxiety and mild panic attacks at the playground with my own children and wife there, and the feeling was so terrifying and so gripping that I literally had to leave and excuse myself.”

While Daly acknowledged the downside of dealing with anxiety, he also admitted that there is an upside. “I’m very sensitive, I love music, and music moves me in a very visceral way physically, so I get the chills hearing soul music,” he said. “When I’m with my family, it’s a euphoric moment, and those things resonate to me very, very deeply, and that’s important to me because I feel so much love, and empathy and compassion. And that’s just the flip side to a lot of the anxiety.”

Daly revealed that a conversation with a friend that also suffers from anxiety was the push he needed to get help. “What helped me is talking to a friend once who said, ‘Everything you’re experiencing I have too. You have anxiety. You should go talk to somebody about it.’ And I was like ‘It’s a thing? Anxiety is a thing?’” he said.

“I opted for a cognitive therapist, somebody who really teaches you about anxiety and the model of it, and offers you tools on how to kind of work through it,” he revealed. “Muscle retention and relaxation really helps me.”

“I really wear the way I am like a badge of honor. This is who I am and I’m proud of it,” said Daly. “I may be a little anxious, but I know I’m going to be okay.”