This TV show has been praised for its startlingly realistic portrayal of an anxiety attack

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray

This Is Us is the breakout NBC comedy-drama series that details the intertwining lives of one family – and it has taken the world by storm.

In last week’s episode, the show - which often deals with heavyweight topics, such as adoption, PTSD, and grief – decided to tackle the excruciating effects of a panic attack and the toll it can take on the person experiencing them.

It quickly became apparent that not all was well with Randall (Sterling K. Brown) when he phoned his brother Kevin (Justin Hartley) to tell him that he wouldn’t be able to make it to see his play. During the conversation, Randall’s hands were seen shaking, his vision blurred slightly, he was distracted, and he seemed emotionally detached – despite the tears pouring from his eyes.

Kevin was confused by the call – and more than a little hurt that his brother had decided not to come and watch him perform in his hit play.

However, picking up on Randall’s emotional state, Kevin began to wonder what was going on with his brother. He readied himself to step out on stage, but, after reflecting on what his father would have done in the same situation, Kevin walked out on the performance and rushed to Randall’s place of work, where he found his brother slumped on the floor.

The scene then featured a flashback of the two brothers from when they were teenagers, where Kevin witnessed Randall having an anxiety-induced moment but walked away.

Watch the moment for yourself below:

The episode later confirmed that Randall suffers from anxiety, a mental health disorder that affects more than 8 million people in the UK.

And his attack was a firm reminder that anxiety does not work to our timetables; the symptoms are difficult to control, inconvenient in how they can affect day-to-day life, and can be entirely all-consuming.

Anxiety symptoms are often hard for sufferers to put into words; there is usually a sense of danger or threat, of not being able to cope with what might happen – a “nameless dread” that provokes such physically real symptoms that it can be utterly debilitating for sufferers.

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person, and can include:

  • Restlessness
  • A sense of dread
  • Feeling constantly “on edge”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations

After watching Randall struggle with his own attack, countless viewers have taken to social media to praise This Is Us for their startlingly realistic portrayal of anxiety.

#ThisIsUs tonight was a stunning portrayal of what it's like to live with anxiety,” wrote one.

“Thanks to @sterlingkb1 who just showed the world that anxiety isn't just a gig made up in your head. @NBCThisisUs #ThisIsUs #randall,” added another.

Get a daily Stylist treat

Subscribe to our newsletter
Read our privacy policy

One fan wrote: “I'm shook with appreciation for @sterlingkb1 & #ThisIsUs. Never seen a truer portrayal of the signs, symptoms, & fallout of panic & anxiety.”

Anxiety disorder is now the most common form of mental illness, and highly treatable.

However, with many misconceptions about mental health prevalent in the media, there is a deep-rooted stigma – and people often feel as if they can’t seek medical treatment.

Stephen Buckley, from the mental health charity Mind, says: “A lot of people don’t understand what anxiety is and how serious it is. It can have a devastating impact on their life.

“But it is a very common problem and people shouldn’t feel hopeless. With the right help things will get better.”

Hopefully, with high-profile shows such as This Is Us keen to tackle the ‘taboo’ topic of anxiety and reveal what it’s really like, people will feel more able to speak up about their own mental health battles, and seek the help they need.

If you suffer from anxiety, experts advise that you visit you GP to explore the number of treatments available.

You can find out more information – including a series of approved self-care tips – on the Mind website.

Images: NBC


Share this article


Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

Related Posts