“It was really bad,” the Aloha star says. “The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend’s house and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mum and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop.”
“I would go to the nurse at lunch most days and just wring my hands,” Stone continues.
“I would ask my mum to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no-one was going to die and nothing was going to change.” (Post continues after gallery.)
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This isn’t the first time Stone has spoken about her anxiety.
“I didn’t want to go to my friends’ houses or hang out with anybody, and nobody really understood. I was just kind of immobilised by it,” she told Vogue in a 2012 interview.
Stone started seeing a therapist, but surprisingly found it was the very thing that usually causes panic attacks in others that helped ease hers – performing.
It was at a local youth theatre that TheAmazing Spider-Man discovered her most effective anxiety treatment… and a passion for acting.
“There’s something about the immediacy of acting. You can’t afford to think about a million other things – you have to think about the task at hand,” Stone explains to the Wall Street Journal.
Stone also meditates every day to ease her anxiety. Here a simple guide if you want to try it too. (Post continues after video.)
“Acting forces me to sort of be like a Zen master: what is happening right at this moment?”
While it may seem unusual, Blue Horizons Counselling pyschologist Yuliya Richard says well-planned, gradual exposure to an anxiety-provoking situation is often used as part of the treatment for anxiety disorders.
“However it’s important to plan for such situations; don’t just jump in the deep end and hope that you feel better afterwards. Without preparation, you can put yourself at risk of experiencing distress which can further affect your confidence and self-esteem negatively,” she warns.
“If you prepare, learn about anxiety, learn effective and practical strategies to deal with it, use calming and encouraging statements, when you practise on a regular basis it can help overcome some of the irrational fears,” she says.
While it now happens less frequently, Stone has said she still gets panic attacks. One struck on the set of Crazy, Stupid, Love during the scene where Ryan Gosling hoisted her up in their Dirty Dancing lift re-enactment.
In order to cope with her anxiety while filming The Amazing Spider-Man, Stone started baking.
"I think I felt really out of control of my surroundings," she told Vogue. "I was just baking all the time. It seems like it made me feel, if I put these in, I'll know what the outcome is... I was overbaking."
According to Richard, there are only benefits of celebrities like Stone raising awareness about mental health issues and the treatments that are available. (Post continues after gallery.)
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"It helps to change perception of mental illness and experience of psychological distress. Often people do not seek treatment as they might think there is something wrong with them, or tell themselves: 'I have always been anxious, this is who I am, I don't think I can ever change'," Richard says.