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Carson Daly Opens Up About His Panic Attacks: ‘You Feel Like You’re Dying’

Carson Daly attends NBC's New York mid season press junket at Four Seasons Hotel New York on March 8, 2018 in New York City. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Looks can be deceiving. Today anchor Carson Daly may appear calm, cool and collected on TV, but he suffers from panic attacks. And sometimes they hit when he’s on air. 

The 44-year-old, who hosted Total Request Live from 1998 to 2002, suffered his first episode minutes before going live on the MTV show. “I had a hard time breathing,” he revealed during the Friday, March 8, episode of Today. “I was terrified for no apparent reason.” He added that didn’t he know what was happening happening at the time.

Related: Stars Who’ve Battled Mental Health Issues

The TV personality now knows he has generalized anxiety disorder, a condition characterized by “persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 

“I was a worrywart kid. I was always worrying,” The Voice host said on Today. “My father died when I was 5. I had an ulcer when I was in high school. I’ve been nervous my whole life.” And it takes a toll on his body.

“At times I feel like there’s a saber-tooth tiger right here,” he said, referring to the tightness in his chest. “And it’s going to kill me, attack me and bite my head off. I’m scared as if that’s really happening. You feel like you’re dying.” 

Related: Before They Were on The Voice!

Daly, who shares Jackson, 8, Etta, 5, and London, 3, with wife Siri Pinter, said the panic attacks don’t have anything to do with being a public figure. “People think, ‘Oh, he has anxiety. High pressure life. You know, you’re on television,’”he said. 

“I’ve had had heightened anxiety and mild panic attacks at the playground with my own children and wife there,” he explained. “The feeling was so gripping and so terrifying that I literally had to leave and excuse myself.” 

To manage the symptoms, Daly sees 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 shared. Other helpful techniques for him include yoga and exercise.

“If you ever watch The Voice live on NBC, watch on a Monday or Tuesday night, I’m never still,” Daly said. “It’s the same thing with the Today show in the morning. Some days I’m just a little anxious. I really wear the way I am like a badge of honor. This is who I am and I’m proud of it.

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