Sadie Frost on her “crippling” anxiety and panic attacks: “It’s a scary thing to talk about”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Sadie Frost has discussed how she keeps on top of her mental health – and revealed how she credits yoga for helping her through particularly difficult periods.

“I suffered from anxiety as a child, and was having panic attacks as a kid,” the 51-year-old revealed in a new interview on ITV’s This Morning. “When you grow up through [something like] that, certain situations become crippling [...]

“I saw different doctors, and different people would give me different advice, and I wanted to do it through building my own tools and strength – and that has been through yoga.

“I didn’t want to do it through medication and things like that.”

Anxiety affects more than 8 million people in the UK – making it the most common form of mental illness. It can affect anyone, at any time, and more and more people are stepping forward to discuss their own experiences, in a bid to tackle the deep-rooted stigma around the condition.

Frost went on to explain that, while nowadays she is frank and open about her own mental health, she was initially worried about how people would react.

“It’s a scary thing to talk about,” she said. “People are talking about it now. It was something I felt uncomfortable talking about [because] I just thought I was weird and wacky.

“[I was concerned that everybody would be] thinking, ‘Why is she unable to cope with this situation?’ But it was something I’ve always had.”

Later in the interview, Frost revealed that her children – Finlay, 26, Rafferty, 20, Iris, 16, and Rudy, 14 – have helped her to become “more present” in her busy day-to-day life.

“I think I’ve always been someone who has been distracted,” she said. “I’m always on the phone, or doing something else, and my kids brought it to my attention [by saying] ‘Mummy, you’re always doing something else’.

“I like to now turn my phone off a lot and try to be present in the present, because we are always thinking about the past or the future.”

Frost is the latest in a number of celebrities who have opened up about their own experiences with anxiety.

Ryan Reynolds recently revealed that his anxiety causes him to shake uncontrollably – and prevents him from being able to sleep.

“Blake helps me through that,” he added. “I’m lucky to have her around just to keep me sane.”

Emma Stone, much like Frost, has also spoken about her childhood anxieties, revealing that she experienced both the mental and physical impact of the condition: at the time, she considered “feeling nauseous” to be an everyday part of life.

Her parents eventually sent her to see a therapist, which she said helped her enormously.

“I wrote this book called I Am Bigger Than My Anxiety that I still have,” she explained. “I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true. And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger.”

Stone’s imaginary anxiety monster was powerful, she added, but it was also conquerable. “If I listen to it enough, it crushes me. But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing – let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs – then it shrinks down and fades away.”

Anxiety is, according to the Mental Health Foundation, a “type of fear usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but can also arise from something happening right now”.

The severity of the 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

While anxiety can last for long periods of time and cause serious distress, it can be effectively treated through counselling, medication and self-help techniques, though not all work for all sufferers.

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.”

If you suffer from anxiety, your GP can offer talking treatments and certain types of medication to help you stay on top of your anxiety. The charity Mind also provides a number of self-care tips. These include breathing exercises, complementary therapies, and ideas on how best to break the cycle of fear and anxiety.

Visit the website for more advice or, alternatively, contact Anxiety Care UKFearfighter, or No Panic for a wealth of information and support.

Images: Rex Features