Emma Stone talks candidly about the anxiety she’s been dealing with since childhood
Emma Stone is famous for being an incredible actress, but some love her for how she keeps it real when it comes to mental health. She’s spoken candidly before about navigating life with an anxiety disorder, and now she’s at it again — and more honest than ever.
In a sit-down interview with Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz for the Child Mind Institute, Stone opens up about how her anxiety began when she was just a child — including her first panic attack at only seven years old. She talks about it beginning at minute 2:50 in the video.
“After first grade before I went into second grade, I had my first panic attack. It was really, really terrifying and overwhelming,” she told Dr. Koplewicz. “I was at a friend’s house, and all of a sudden I was absolutely convinced the house was on fire and it was burning down. I was just sitting in her bedroom and obviously the house wasn’t on fire, but there was nothing in me that didn’t think we were going to die.”
Over the next two years, the attacks happened with great frequency. She describes a second grade year full of visits to the school nurse and faking sickness so her mom would take her home. In fact, she suffered such severe separation anxiety when it came to her mother that she couldn’t even go to friends’ houses. “As you can see, it’s gotten better. I swear!” she jokes.
She also talks about starting therapy in childhood. “I’m so grateful that I went to therapy,” she says. Stone explains that the therapist told her mother that she had anxiety and panic disorders — but didn’t tell her. “I am very grateful I didn’t know that I had a disorder,” she says. “I wanted to be an actor and there weren’t a lot of actors who spoke about having panic attacks.”
Stone tells of a book she made as a child in therapy called I Am More Than My Anxiety. She says it was “helpful” and notes that her mom still has it, which is adorable.
At minute seven, Stone describes thinking at eight years old, that if she left the house, her mom would die. She explains that she could never really discuss her internal struggle with friends because kids wouldn’t understand. She mostly talked to family about the scary thoughts she was having.
As far as a silver-lining, Stone says that her struggle with anxiety and panic disorders has helped her as a performer. “I also believe there is a lot of empathy when you struggled a lot internally. There is a tendency to want to understand how people around you work or what’s going on internally with them which is great for characters.”
The fact that learning to live life with anxiety helped her career is amazing, but her speaking openly about mental health and how she coped both then and now is immeasurably helpful to other non-famous people going through a similar battle. In the interview, she mentions how as a child, there wasn’t really anyone she could look to who had gone through what she was going through. Now, she’s providing exactly that.