Carson Daly Gets Candid About Lifelong Battle With Anxiety

By David Konow 03/13/18

Daly says he decided to seek help for his anxiety after a friend revealed they were battling the disorder too.

Carson Daly

TV anchor Carson Daly opened up in an interview with Today about his long-time struggles with generalized anxiety disorder.

Daly admitted that he grew up in a generation where men couldn’t be honest about their emotional difficulties. He could hear the gruff voice of his father in his head: “There is no such thing as stress or anxiety! It’s not the flu or breaking a bone! Rub some dirt on it!”

Daly revealed, “I was a worrywart kid. I was always worrying. My father died when I was 5. I had an ulcer when I was in high school. I've been nervous my whole life.”

The former Total Request Live (TRL) host experienced his first full-blown panic attack when he finally hit the big time as the host of the mega popular MTV show.

“I had no idea what [a panic attack] was at the time,” he says. “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’s anxiety got so bad that he wound up in the hospital. “You feel like you’re dying,” he explained. He was hooked up to a heart monitor, and he remembered his thoughts racing, convinced he was going 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.”

Despite what many may assume, Daly says his career is not the source of his anxiety.

“People think, they hear anxiety, high-pressure life, you’re on television. It’s nothing to do with that. 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.”

Daly finally decided to get help when a friend confessed that he suffered from anxiety as well. “Everything you’re experiencing I have too,” his friend told him. “You have anxiety. You should go talk to somebody about it.” Finally able to give his fear a name, Daly replied, “It’s a thing? Anxiety is a thing?”

Daly acknowledges “the flip side” to his anxiety, which is his sensitive nature that allows him to be moved by his favorite artists and enjoy tender moments with his family. He’s learned new tools to work through his panic attacks with a cognitive therapist, and how to embrace his anxiety through self-acceptance.

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

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.