Stephen Fry and YouTube’s Zoella are the most well-known celebrity panic attack sufferers, according to a new study, and 53% of people find their honesty helpful when dealing with their own panic disorders.
The study, conducted by bcalm, polled 3,000 adults from all over the UK on their experiences with panic attacks, and found that different age ranges have very different responses to celebrities and public figures talking openly about their panic attacks.
Those aged between 18-24 were the most likely to be aware of celebrity sufferers, and those aged 55+ were the least. Despite being the most aware, however, 9% of the 18-24 year olds surveyed found celebrities had a negative impact on their own panic disorder. 35-44 year olds were the most positive age group – 59% felt positively about their own condition when celebrities were vocal on the same topic.
56% of men think that hearing about a celebrity’s panic attacks helps them to deal with their own. 52% of women agreed, but 3% thought it had a negative impact on how they dealt with their own.
The most recognised celebrities were Stephen Fry, Zoella, Peter Andre, Ellie Goulding and Johnny Depp, closely followed by Adele and Emma Stone. Fry, who has been the President of mental health charity Mind since 2011, and Zoella, whose video about panic attacks and anxiety currently has over 3.5 million views, scored the highest. Their greater willingness to talk about their disorders could be attributed to this.
Respondents were also asked how they thought a celebrity’s openness about panic disorder would affect their career. 42% thought it would have no impact, 16% concluded there would be a positive effect, and 11% thought it would have a negative impact. Men, and those aged between 35-44, were significantly more likely to assume a negative impact, despite the fact they themselves feel more positively.
Panic and anxiety has been a greater topic of discussion in the media in recent years, and not just when it concerns celebrities. In April this year, 22 year-old Amber Smith from Rugby shared a revealing and honest post about how she appears when “dressed up, make up done, filters galore” and how she actually looks after experiencing a panic attack. The two selfies made international news and were shared 38,000 shares on Facebook, attracting the praise and support of thousands of commenters for highlighting the invisibility of mental health problems and how easy it is for people to doubt their existence.
Unlike Amber Smith, 33% of those surveyed felt uncomfortable telling others about their panic attacks, and would only do so when absolutely necessary. Just under half had experienced doubt and negativity from others when they did disclose their panic disorder, and 80% were either working in an environment where no support was provided, or they were unaware of any support was available.
Dr Michael Sinclair, the director of bCalm hopes that this research will help panic attack sufferers to feel they can be more vocal about the disorder that they suffer from, whether they’re a public figure or not.