Ellie Goulding health: ‘Crippled by anxiety’ – singer on being ‘terrified’ by condition

Together at Christmas: Ellie Goulding performs in carol concert

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Posting on Instagram on New Year’s Eve, the 35-year-old Anything Could Happen singer reflected on the incredible highs of the previous year, which included becoming a mother for the first time, releasing her first novel and performing for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Amongst all of her successes, the singer then detailed the lows of the following year, saying: “This year has also been the hardest of my life. I’ve struggled daily, nightly, hourly with a kind of panic I didn’t even know existed.”

The star continued to open up about her mental health, and battle with anxiety which she said has “dictated quite a lot of [her] life and career”.

She said: “I want to tell you this on the last day of this year because so many of you have been asking how I’m doing and often do not get a reply.

“It’s because I’ve been too scared to admit that the answer is, not very good.

“I feel like something is broken inside – something that has been echoed deeply by the few I have opened up to.”

Anxiety can be a symptom or root cause of many health conditions, but overall, the term is used to describe a feeling of unease, worry or fear. It can range from being mild to severe and can cause the following conditions:

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias, such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition described by the NHS as a condition that causes individuals to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.

Due to this, GAD can cause both psychological and physical symptoms. Although symptoms will vary from person to person, they can include having trouble concentrating, dizziness and heart palpitations and feeling restless.

Explaining more about her own personal experience with anxiety, Goulding added: “Sometimes at my most terrified, when I feel there is no escape from the sheer panic and dread in my heart and brain, I remind myself that I can feel.

“This is something so, so many people have gone through, you may be going through right now, or might go through in the future – and I just wanted to say, and I have to remind myself all the time, that it’s not just you, it’s not just me [who are] crippled by anxiety.”

Confronting her condition and battle with anxiety, Goulding went on to provide crucial support and advice for others who may be struggling like her.

“I know so many of you reading this feel this same pain and at the same time so many of you won’t have experienced it, but will most likely know someone who has struggled,” she added.

“For those that are in this right now, we’re together and we can get through this – most importantly, by talking. Talking and opening up is the hardest and the best thing you can do.”

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Many individuals with anxiety or an anxiety disorder suffer from panic attacks, which is an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to danger, stress or excitement. During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:

  • A pounding or racing heartbeat
  • Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling very hot or very cold
  • Sweating, trembling or shaking
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Pain in your chest or abdomen
  • Struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
  • Feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
  • Feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation.

Mind, a leading mental health charity in the UK explains that some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another. But others might find they have them regularly, or several in a short space of time.

This could be due to particular places, situations or activities that seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.

In order to best cope with a panic attack, Mind sets out the following tips:

  • Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
  • Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.
  • Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft.
  • Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control. They’re especially useful if you experience dissociation during panic attacks.

As everyone’s experience with anxiety is different, the cause can be hard to determine. Factors that can be involved include past childhood experiences, current life situation, drugs, medication and genetics.

However, what is universal is the types of treatment that can be used to help treat and in some cases cure individuals who have anxiety. After seeking advice from a GP, the first step may be to try self-help resources, such as workbooks and online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programmes.

Other treatment options include talking therapies and medication. The prior mainly involves the following CBT – this focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems. Or applied relaxation therapy; this involves learning how to relax your muscles in situations where you normally experience anxiety.

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