Pretty Little Liars Star Hid Her Battle with Serious Anxiety Disorder for Years

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The birth of a child is usually one of the most magical times in a person’s life, but for Tammin Sursok, it caused extreme fear, sadness and overwhelming emotions. The Pretty Little Liars star explained, “I remember not being able to swallow. Not being able to eat. Not being able to cry. Not being able to breathe. Just not being ‘able.'”

The 33-year-old actress gave birth to daughter Phoenix Emmanuel in 2013 with husband Sean McEwen, and while she was completely in love with the little baby, she knew something was wrong. Tammin finally told her mom that she needed help and went to a doctor who diagnosed her with postpartum anxiety.

“After six months of trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me, trying to boil it down to ‘just hormones’ and ‘just sleep deprivation’ and ‘just life adjustments,’ I was officially branded by two words,” she explained in her raw, emotional essay. “I was handed some pale yellow pills, told it was common and sent on my merry ‘just been diagnosed with a mental illness’ way. As I arrived home I remember staring at the medication in the palm of my hands and it triggering a complete panic attack. I lost my balance, as the room started to spin, with the almost cartoon like voices yelling ‘failure, faulty, imperfect, let down.’ My breathing labored and I almost passed out. I hysterically threw the medication in the bin (which I’m now sure would have helped me greatly) and never did end up taking them. Ironically, I wondered, if I didn’t help myself, was I more of a failure??”

Tammin was eventually able to heal herself through “meditation, yoga, therapy, mindfulness, prayer, nutrition and reading and connecting with others who had been through the same experience.”

While the celebrity is now mentally, physically and emotionally healed, she still has “fear for the next child,” but wants women to know that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

“Asking for help, especially in regards to motherhood, is often seen as self trivialization and weakness, so on goes the perpetual cycle of fear, loneliness and guilt. […] As mothers, women, parents and caregivers, we need to break the stigma. Lives are being lost. We need to speak up about our tales of sadness and hope and joy. We are no lesser because of it and only through heartache comes true resilience. And not to sound trite, but ‘we need to be the change we want to see in the world’ and it all starts with us.”

10 strong female celebrities who also suffer from panic attacks:

Jennifer Lawrence

While Jen claims to have been a hyperactive child, she said she began to suffer from social anxiety as soon as she started school. It got so bad that the youngster would have panic attacks before her parents dropped her off.

"When I went to school, this light went out," she told Madam Figaro. "We never knew what it was, a kind of social anxiety. I went to see a shrink, nothing worked."

Once Jennifer began acting, her anxieties started to disappear and she "felt capable whereas before [she] felt good for nothing." Even though her panic attacks have subsided since her childhood, the Hunger Games star still gets them occasionally. She told Marie Claire she " thought [she] was having a heart attack"

before a THG press tour, which was really a panic attack.

Photo: Getty

Ellie Goulding

Early last year, Ellie revealed to Cosmopolitan that she used to have panic attacks so bad that she thought she was going to die.

"One day after a shoot I was on a train going to a funeral and my heart was pounding; I thought I was having a heart attack. When I got to Cardiff, the next train was cancelled, so I had to get in a cab with strangers to Hereford. I was so scared I reached over to this woman and said, 'I think I’m dying.' I called a friend to take me to hospital, where they told me it was just a panic attack. From that day, I kept having them. It was the weirdest time of my life. Sick, horrible things would go through my mind but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself...It got to the point when I couldn’t even get into the car and go to the studio."

The singer said she went to therapy and took medication to help control her panic attacks.

Read more:

Photo: Getty

Emma Stone

The Easy A actress told The Wall Street Journal that she's suffered from panic attacks since she was a little girl.

"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 mom 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. I would ask my mom 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."

Emma said her parents took her to therapy, but it was acting that really helped her because it forced her "to sort of be like a Zen master."

Photo: Getty

Zoe Sugg

Zoe Sugg aka Zoella puts her face on YouTube for over 9 million people, but it's not always as simple as you may think. In fact, the 25-year-old social media queen even filmed herself mid-panic attack, something that she's suffered from since she was 14, to show her viewers that anxiety isn't something to be ashamed of. She describes her experience like this:

"My initial symptoms would happen whenever I felt in a situation where I felt forced, or felt I couldn't leave. My heart would race; I'd feel sick; my breath was short and quick; I felt so hot but shivered with cold and I felt like the room was closing in on me."

Photo: Instagram

Amanda Seyfried

Like many other celebrities, Amanda's panic attacks were triggered as a result of being in the public eye, but she finds solace in therapy that helps her cope.

"I've suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many years and you learn to fight your fears by facing up to them," she told Daily Mail. "I still fight against anxiety. It takes time, even to get to the point where although you might have a possible self-image, you still worry about silly things. I know how to deal with and over time it's not going to be an issue for me. I just try to relax and not let myself get wrapped up in unimportant things."

Photo: Getty

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham is a huge supporter of loving your body no matter what size you are, and wants to encourage young girls to exercise to be healthy, not to lose weight. In fact, the Girls creator posted an Instagram message that revealed working out helped her cope with anxiety and past panic attack.

"It has helped with my anxiety in ways I never dreamed possible. To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it's mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I'm glad I did. It ain't about the ass, it's about the brain."


Photo: Getty

Britney Spears

It's no secret that Britney Spears gets uncomfortable in front of large crowds, which is why she sometimes looks less-than-enthused at public appearances. But what fans might not know is that Ms. Spears' anxiety has gotten so bad at times that her career could've been greatly affected.

After having "panic attack after panic attack," on the first day of The X-Factor the "Toxic" singer almost walked away from the gig. Simon Cowell said, "on the first day, 100 percent she didn't think she was going to be able to do [it]," but she slowly became more comfortable on reality television and "blossomed week by week."

Photo: Getty

Megan Fox

And speaking of Britney Spears, Megan Fox says it's her music that helps her deal with panic attacks.

I developed ]a fear of flying] when I turned 20," she told Teen Hollywood. "All of a sudden I got really afraid to get on airplanes. I had to come up with a way to deal with it because I didn't want to have panic attacks every time I get on a plane. I know for a fact it's not in my destiny to die listening to a Britney Spears album, so I always put that on in my [headphones] when I'm flying because I know it wont crash if I've got Britney on."

Photo: Getty

Carrie Underwood

Carrie was shot into the spotlight after her American Idol win in 2005, and the sudden fame triggered serious anxiety.

"At the beginning of my career, I used to have panic attacks," she revealed to Marie Claire magazine. "People were touching me, screaming -- it made me really nervous. In public, I just get nervous. It’s a physical reaction, feeling like the walls are closing in. The fans are great. It’s not their fault. I don’t ever want to come across as ungrateful. But on my end, it is hard for me to process. Because I am still just me."

Photo: Getty


Adele's amazing voice makes her performances seem effortless, but, as it turns out, they're anything but. The singer told Q magazine, "I have anxiety attacks, constant panicking on stage. My heart feels like it's going to explode because I never feel like I'm going to deliver; ever."

She also revealed that her panic attacks have caused her to turn down opportunities to perform at big gigs, such as the Glastonbury festival.

Photo: Getty

7 Male Stars You Didn’t Know Suffer from Depression

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