More than half of people who have panic attacks believe that high-profile celebrities talking about their own experiences helps them to deal with the condition, a survey has revealed.
The survey of 3,000 UK adults, carried out by panic attack inhaler manufacturer bcalm, found that of those who experience panic attacks, 53% said hearing a well-known personality talking about their condition helped them.
Other key findings of the research, conducted by a team headed by panic disorder specialist Dr Michael Sinclair, director of bcalm, included:
• Stephen Fry, YouTube personality Zoella, Peter Andre, Ellie Goulding and Johnny Depp are the highest profile people to experience panic attacks in the UK
• People with panic disorder aged 18-24 are the most likely to be aware of a celebrity who has panic attacks, and those aged 55+ were the least aware (14% and 4%, respectively)
• But 9% of 18-24 year olds think talking about their condition has a negative effect on a celebrity’s career
• 59% of 35-44 year olds find that celebrities discussing their panic attacks helped them deal with their own, but only 39% of those aged 18-24 agreed
• Men are twice as likely as women to think disclosing a panic disorder will have a negative effect on a celebrity’s career
• 56% of men think hearing about a celebrity or public figure discussing their panic attacks helps them deal with their own. Meanwhile, 52% of women agreed, but 3% thought it has a negative impact.
Despite 18-24-year-olds who experience panic attacks being the most likely to be aware of a celebrity with the same condition, they’re not the most likely to age group to report that celebrity disclosure helps them: 35-44-year-olds were the most likely to do this.
In addition, 33% of respondents felt uncomfortable telling others about their panic attacks, and would only do so when appropriate or absolutely necessary.
Those surveyed responded well to public figures’ openness about panic attacks on the whole, 50% of whom had felt others had trivialised or doubted their own panic attacks before.
“Celebrities are supposedly ‘just like us’, so with more than 50% of our survey participants saying they have suffered from at least one panic attack in their lives, it’s not farfetched to assume that many high-profile celebrities suffer from them too,” said Dr Sinclair.
“There was a positive response to celebrity sufferers on the whole, and those who appreciated a celebrity’s disclosure of panic disorder may feel empowered to talk about their own condition. If more public figures are able to talk about their panic attacks, perhaps even more people would feel more confident telling their friends, family and employers.
“One thing we hope this research does is help panic disorder sufferers gain the confidence to talk about their condition at work. Our own research revealed that more than a quarter of panic attack sufferers get no support from their employer.
“There are 104 panic attacks in the UK for every reported case of work-related stress, anxiety and depression at work. But if more people felt confident talking about their condition, employers may be able to do more.”