Today host Carson Daly, 50, recalls the terrifying moment he had his first ever PANIC ATTACK while filming hit ’90s music show TRL: ‘I thought I was going to die’
Today, show host Carson Daly revealed intimate details about his first ever panic attack, detailing how it shaped his attitude and advocacy towards mental health.
Carson, 50, has been incredibly open about his mental health struggles over the years, after going public with his generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis in 2018.
And now he opened up in even more detail while giving a speech at the Project Healthy Minds World Mental Health Day Festival on Tuesday, when he recalled the moment he had his first panic attack in the ’90s while on MTV’s Total Request Live worked. .
Carson revealed that he was preparing to start filming the teen talk show, which features musicians, actors and other celebrities, when “something unusual” happened.
Today co-host Carson Daly opened up about his first ever panic attack, and how it shaped how he deals with his mental health going forward
Carson (pictured center with Britney Spears and Brandon Boyd in 2002) was hosting MTV’s Total Request Live when he had his first ever panic attack, recalling that it ‘came out of nowhere’
“Out of nowhere in my dressing room I felt what I can only describe as a snap in my brain,” he recalled to the audience.
Carson said his ‘heart started racing and fear went through my body’, describing the feeling like someone ‘cracked one of those cold compresses at a Little League game and put it on my neck.’
“I could see my producer in the doorway talking to me, completely normal expression on his face, probably saying something about Hanson,” he continued.
“I couldn’t hear him,” the TV host admitted. ‘He seemed to be speaking in slo-mo. I was literally leaving reality.’
At the time, Carson said he thought he might have had a stroke, recalling being horrified that he might have had one before Hanson.
‘It went by in 30 seconds but it felt like 30 minutes,’ he said, explaining that at the moment he ‘thought he was going to die’.
‘I was able to get through it somehow. I did the show on autopilot,’ Carson recalls. “But the whole time, under the surface, I was absolutely terrified that whatever had just happened to me, it could happen again at any moment.”
After the chilling experience, Carson went to a doctor, who told him it sounded like he was suffering from a panic attack — the likes of which he had never heard of before.
Carson (pictured host of The Voice) admitted he had never heard of a panic attack until he had one while working on MTV, which started his quest for mental health awareness.
Daly (seen with Lil Kim in 2000) went public with his generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnosis in 2018
The Today host recalls being plagued by excessive worry when he started his career at age 23, and said the most important step he took was talking to a friend and then a therapist.
“I had never heard of a panic attack, much less considered it,” he admitted. ‘What was the trigger for this panic attack? I do not know.’
He went on to say that he later found out the panic attack was actually a symptom of wider mental health issues, largely caused by his stress and anxiety.
‘Stress and anxiety were the cause. I had to slow down,” he explained. “I had to make my unmanageable life manageable.”
Carson then took what he said was the “single most important step” in addressing his mental health — talking to a friend.
He began seeing a therapist, who led him to learn tools to manage his anxiety.
He admitted that knowing how to manage the symptoms did not make them go away, and he has suffered from panic attacks ever since.
‘The body can always deceive the mind,’ he said, having a panic attack while presenting The Voice with 12 million people watching.
But he stressed the importance of knowing what to do and using the resources around you and speaking up — something the nonprofit Project Healthy Minds is centered around.
“Mental health is no longer the Scarlet A on our chest,” he said. ‘This is the bright red ‘S’ on our chest. We are superheroes,’
He added: ‘We are the avengers of a galaxy, jocks and misfits, all with their own problems coming together to help people and who knows, maybe even save the world.’
Carson spoke on the Today show in June about his battle with anxiety and his journey so far, as his co-hosts celebrated his 50th birthday.
“I feel better now than I did in my 20s,” he said at the time. “There is so much self-acceptance that comes with age.”