Carson Daly Shares His Struggle With Anxiety and Panic Attacks
By Jackie Willis
Carson Daly has dealt with anxiety his whole life, and recalls that while hosting MTV's Total Request Live, he had a panic attack minutes before going on the air.
"I had a hard time breathing," he recollected in an interview that aired on Friday's Today show. "I was terrified for no apparent reason."
Daly was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is "characterized as "persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events," according to the Mayo Clinic.
The 44-year-old TV personality said the nervousness started at a young age. “I was a worrywart kid. I was always worrying,” he said. “My father died when I was five. I had an ulcer when I was in high school. I've been nervous my whole life.”
When he moved to New York, Daly's condition worsened because his "life changed overnight."
“At times I feel like there's a saber-tooth tiger right here and it's going to kill me, attack me and bite my head off. I’m scared as if that's really happening,” he explained. “You feel like you’re dying.”
Daly is adamant that his career is not the reason for his anxiety. "People think, ‘Oh, he has anxiety. High pressure life. You know, you’re on television.’ It has nothing to do with that,” the father of three insisted. "I've had heightened anxiety and mild panic attacks at the playground with my own children and wife there. The feeling was so gripping and so terrifying that literally I had to leave and excuse myself."
The Today show correspondent and host of The Voice has found what works for him when coping with GAD, citing that yoga and exercise help.
“I opted for a cognitive therapist, somebody who teaches you about anxiety, the model of it, and offers you tools on how to kind of work through it,” he noted. “Muscle retention relaxation really helps me.”
It's Daly's hope that by bringing awareness to his condition, he can help others. "We live in that world where it's like, ‘What did he take? I'll take that too.’ It's not that simple," he expressed. "This is the way I was born. This is the way I was hardwired. This is the downside the way God made me and there's a tremendous upside as well."
That being said, Daly is diligent about not letting the anxiety control his life. "I don't walk around every single day a nervous wreck. I don't want people to think, ‘Oh, are you OK? Are you freaking out?’ No, I'm good."
He added, "If you ever watch The Voice live on NBC -- watch on a Monday or Tuesday night, I’m never still. It's the same thing with the Today show in the morning. Some days I'm just a little anxious."
"People are so afraid about what other people think of you. I wish people could break down that wall, too," Daly continued. "I guarantee you, everybody has got something."