Amanda Seyfried on her panic attacks: ‘It feels like life or death’

Amanda Seyfried is doing last minute promotion for her Mank Best Actress Oscar nomination. I haven’t seen the film, but I hear her nom is well deserved. She said was as thrilled to be nominated, which is good, because I doubt she’ll win over Viola Davis or Frances McDormand. Amanda is living on her farm in upstate New York with her husband, her mom and two kids. She’s making time to work when she can and to do interviews. Amanda’s a good interview because she’s pretty open. And not just in a gossip way, Amanda lives with OCD and anxiety and she’s committed to educating others about what that’s like. Amanda recently Zoomed in from her barn to talk with Willie Geist on The Today Show. She spoke about her life on the farm, breaking into the business and living with anxiety. She said when she has a panic attack, “it feels like life or death,” and described what the aftermath is like.

Amanda Seyfried has evolved from playing a “Plastic” in Mean Girls to a silver screen legend during her nearly two decades in Hollywood.

But the Oscar nominee, 35, recently admitted that she still faces anxiety and panic attacks from being in the Hollywood spotlight. “It feels like life or death,” she told Willie Geist on Sunday’s episode of The Today Show.

“That’s what a panic attack is, really,” Seyfried continued. “Your body just goes into fight or flight. The endorphin rush and the dump that happens after the panic attack is so extraordinary. You just feel so relieved and your body is just kind of recovered in a way. It’s so bizarre because it’s physiological, but it starts in your head.”

[From People]

Does anyone watch that show Breeders? In season two, episode two (No Fear) the son Luke described what it’s like for him to live with his anxiety to his dad. It was so well done, I felt like I could imagine the experience. If I couple that with Amanda’s discussion of the endorphin rush following a panic attack, I have a better understanding of what those who live with anxiety go through. Since members of my family live with anxiety and OCD, I want to support them the best I can. Amanda has been a great source for me. I appreciate that she spreads this information. I also appreciate her comments about reconciling that such a physiological experience begins in the head.

The Today interview is cute, but the edits are abrupt. A few of Amanda’s answers were cut short so they didn’t work well as pull quotes. She talked about wanting to connect with people more. She said it’s a priority to let people know she doesn’t have, “someone waking me up with breakfast in bed, and I’m not chauffeured around.” She said she is, “so desperate for (people) to understand that you can talk to me.” I found that really interesting because stars do generally want to be seen as regular joes who just happen to have lavish lifestyles, but they don’t necessarily want to hang out with other regular joes. Amanda said she really wants to “connect like everybody else.” I’ll bet this was part of her reason to stay out of Hollywood and live on a farm as well, because in LA they smile all the time but it is the unfriendliest place you’ll ever stay.

Photo credit: Instagram and Avalon

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18 Responses to “Amanda Seyfried on her panic attacks: ‘It feels like life or death’”

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  1. Lauren says:

    She is stunning! I’ve had a soft spot for her since her Veronica Mars days. I couldn’t imagine living with panic attacks, I had one as a teen and I thought I was going to die because I felt so faint yet everything around me felt too much. Pair that with ocd and no thank you.

  2. Lady Luna says:

    I’ve lived in LA for over twenty years and I can count on one hand the people that I’ve become good friends with. Glad she’s staying out of LA to make true connections.

  3. Seraphina says:

    I have ben unfortunate to experience both panic and anxiety attacks. Both feel like the world is going to end and yet they are were, for me, so different in experiences.
    Love her in Mean Girls – when she is telling the weather forecast. I will have to check out the other shows too.

  4. msmontclair says:

    I’ve had OCD for 30 years now, and general anxiety/depression for as long as I can remember. I am so pleased that Amanda is using her platform to further normalize mental health discussions.

    I struggle every single day. The more people who understand, the better.

  5. Tom says:

    A visit to a terrible endodontist triggered panic attacks. They got to the point where they happened at Target, at a restaurant, in church, in the car. About 9 sessions with a psychologist truly helped.

    It was hard, hard work learning that the human mind can hold only one thought at a time. Working with a psychologist, you might be able to override the bad thoughts. That’s what worked and continues to work for me years on. If you are thinking of trying a psychologist for help, I hope you do.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    She’s appears to be beautiful inside as well as out. Panic and anxiety, in my experience, is hard to harness. And it does feel like a life or death precipice. And although I’m so thankful when one passes, it leaves a mark, so to speak, for some time. My chest, back and muscles are sore like I had battled some invisible army. And mine aren’t predictable. I have awakened in the middle of the night having attacks. You can’t unilaterally diagnose a person’s triggers or any fundamental reason for panic. And it’s insulting to do so. Anyone having these debilitating physical and mental hijacks should get help specifically tailored to them to include medical and psychological attention. The very worst thing you can do is blame yourself or think something is wrong with you. It’s real. It can be very painful. Very scary. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than. Ever.

  7. Case says:

    I’m thankful she’s drawing attention to this. I really do think it’s difficult for people who don’t suffer from panic attacks and anxiety to really understand what it feels like. To me, the worst part of dealing with both anxiety and full-blown panic attacks is that I KNOW that’s what it is. I know it’s irrational panic, I know my thoughts are spinning out of control or that I’m experiencing OCD about something, but I can’t control it. I’ve had a lot more panic attacks since the pandemic started, often triggered by trying to explain things that are happening with case numbers and variants, etc. to uninformed family members. It’s exhausting when your loved ones don’t stay on top of the news or do any research and you feel like you need to be the one to remind them how bad things still are.

  8. Daphne says:

    Other than Amanda, I’ve seen panic attacks described realistically or portrayed well in Parker Posey’s Broken English (why did that movie not get more love?) and Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive. I have panic disorder that is often lumped in with GAD. But it’s distinctive. You can have the best day of your life with zero anxiety and then be in agony with a sudden onset panic attack. You think you are in the process of dying for 20-40 minutes. I is usually nap after if I can because the adrenaline surge is intense. A lot of PD sufferers develop OCD due to trying to manage their environments to avoid panic attacks. I did but it diminished with CBT, specifically exposure therapy. I had one on Sunday but they happen about once a month now vs multiple times a day. If you also endure the solitary agony of panic attacks I empathize.

  9. Green Desert says:

    Good for her for shining a light on mental health.

    Also Hecate – I love Breeders and didn’t realize season 2 had started. I’m so excited to watch!

  10. faithmobile says:

    I love that she is talking about this but my experience with panic attacks is very different. Mine are physiological remnants of ptsd, my adrenal glands don’t function properly anymore and start a cascade event that is completely unrelated to my current state of mind. Medication was not the answer for me, I had to completely alter my entire life to avoid stress and alter my diet to begin the healing process. I no longer have panic attacks and my anxiety attacks are limited but I still refuse to watch the news or violent shows or movies. For me it’s about staying in the present and reaching for good feeling thoughts and not focusing on negativity. It sounds pollyanna but it has work wonders.

  11. Sandra says:

    I suffered from daily (multiple times a day) panic attacks for 6 years. Amanda is accurate and it sounds like she’s been in therapy to understand what they are in order to manage them. I will forever be thankful that I was able to find therapy at a local university (since I didn’t have good health coverage at the time) to learn what panic disorder is and tools on how to manage the attacks when they came.
    Yes, you are 110% convinced that you are dying when they hit. You develop agoraphobia because you’re scared to have one in public. I do not wish panic disorder on my worst enemy.
    Through hard work via therapy, I have now been panic free for four years.


    One of the scariest moments of my life was my husband’s panic attack. It was so bad- symptoms we never knew were related. His face went slack, his body tensed, his speech slurred. He thought he was having a stroke. He was telling me he loved me and he was sorry.
    Since then I’ve had panic attacks just thinking about it. No matter the degree of panic, it’s such a horrible feeling.

  13. beccab says:

    I have dealt with anxiety attacks also-it has gotten worse again with perimenopause. Comedian Jen Kirkman also talks about her anxiety and has developed resources she shares and is starting a podcast about it too. I have really liked Amanda ever since I saw her on Big Love. It is great that she is so open about her struggles.

  14. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I was one of those people who always thought “oh there’s nothing wrong with you for the love of god. Just suck it up. Panic/Anxiety attacks? Sure. Ok uh huh whatever (followed by a massive eye roll.)”
    Welp as we all know, when karma has had enough of your sh*t she delivers an especially epic bitch slap and that’s what happened to me.
    2014 I had my first “mini” stroke and other than upending my usual wonky balance I was fine. Then I had my first panic attack and literally knew I was dying.
    Fortunately I had a very good ER doc who diagnosed me correctly and gave me some tools to deal appropriately. But I still had them. My 2nd stroke only exacerbated it.
    It’s been about 2 years since I’ve experienced one, I can usually head them off if I am paying attention, but if not, then it’s quite a ride
    So. I sincerely apologize to anyone who I ever made fun of, or lost patience with.
    I see you, I feel you and I wish nothing but healing for you

  15. Julia says:

    Not to be annoying, but Amanda is up for Best Supporting Actress, not Best Actress, so she’s not going against Frances or Viola. I definitely don’t think she’s a sure thing, but she’s also not that much of a long-shot.

  16. AP says:

    I have no idea why I feel compelled to post this, but as someone who has had anxiety, and no longer does, maybe it’s helpful.

    Number one thing to remember is that panic attacks are made in your body. Essentially they’re an indication your body is not running smoothly. And yes, medication can help, and is certainly better than suffering needlessly, but the number one thing that helps is to start treating your body like it needs to be treated. An hour of outdoor exercise every day — not a joke. More if you can. Cut out caffeine and all sugar and don’t eat other junk, and eat high nutrient food like avocados, vegetables and fruits, fish or other lean meat and nuts. Take a good quality probiotic daily, because serotonin is mostly in your gut, and lack of serotonin causes anxiety. Stop watching *** TV and other content that raises your cortisol levels. Go outside a lot to get sunshine, and if you cannot be sure you are getting Vitamin D. And finally, for emergencies, use block breathing and keep good quality CBD in the cabinet.

  17. Lala11_7 says:

    I adore her for putting a much needed spotlight on panic attacks…I’ve only had one in my life…about 5 years ago…and it was horrifying…started right around peri….😕 😞

    And personally…I think she should win the Oscar…I’ve seen them all…and she was so UTTERLY perfect as Marion…I’m STILL amazed! Her acting deserved a DIFFERENT Director & a BETTER script…