For viewers who watch him on TV hosting “The Voice”, it may come as a shock to learn that Carson Daly is plagued by a severe anxiety disorder, suffering panic attacks on a daily basis, and he opened up about his struggles during a Friday morning appearance on “Today”.
“Looking back on my life, I was a worrywart kid. I was always worrying,” said Daly, tracing his anxiety back to his childhood. “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. 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.”
As Daly explained, his panic attacks worsened to the point that he once went to the ER. “You feel like you’re dying” he said. “In fact, I went to the hospital. I’ve got leads on my chest, and 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.”
While some might assume the stress of appearing in front of the camera would add to his anxiety, Daly insisted that isn’t the case.
“People think, they hear anxiety, anxiety, high-pressure life, you’re on television. It’s nothing to do with that,” he added. “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.”
It wasn’t until Daly spoke with a friend about his anxiety that he realized what he was going through was more common then he thought.
“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?’” Daly said.
These days, Daly works with a cognitive therapist who provides him with “tools to work through it,” but admitted he’s come to accept his anxiety as a part of who he is.
“This is the way I was born, this is the way I’m hardwired, this is kind of the downside of the way God made me, and there’s a tremendous upside as well,” he explained. “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, definitely. 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.”