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“The Voice” host Carson Daly is giving more of a voice to those suffering with mental health issues through a new “Today” series this summer titled “Mind Matters” after being inspired through his own mental health journey with general anxiety disorder (GAD), according to USA Today.
“You may know me from MTV or as a celebrity of whatever you think of me. You may think my life’s perfect. I’ve got kids. I always look happy on TV or when you watch me on ‘The Voice.’ But that’s just not how it works. It’s not like that,” Daly said.
“On ‘The Voice,’ when I’m live on Monday nights, most of the time, my right hand is in my right pocket, and I’m literally gripping onto the flesh of my thigh because I’m waiting for a high-panic moment to pass.”
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The 48-year-old has suffered from GAD as well as panic attacks for most of his life, referring to himself as a “worrywart” after his father died when he was 5 years old.
The Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM5), defines GAD as excessive anxiety and worry over a “number” of activities for at least 6 months that causes impairment in daily life.
A patient with the disorder finds it difficult to control the worry and experiences at least several anxiety symptoms, such as restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sleep problems, getting tired easily and muscle tension.
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“Once you realize that other people have (GAD) – that it’s an actual diagnosable thing, and there is a whole psychology and physiology behind it – you have context, and I think learning about all that, talking about it, exploring it has just ripped the veil,” Daly, who is from Santa Monica, Calif., said.
He first opened up about this mental health struggles on the “Today” show in 2018, describing how he had his first panic attack when he hosted the MTV show “Total Request Live.”
“I had a hard time breathing. I was terrified for no apparent reason,” the host recalled.
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He spoke about being “hardwired” for the disorder but denies that his positions on television have anything to do with it.
But after talking to a friend who suffered with the same condition, he started to meet with a cognitive behavioral therapist, who helped give him the tools on how to better work through it.
Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on changing counterproductive thinking and behaviors by providing coping skills to lead a more successful life, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
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It focuses on helping patients be their own therapists by working through exercises during sessions and assigning “homework” exercises outside of therapy, where patients learn to change the pattern of thinking and behaviors that are harming their way of life, per the association.
“I shared my story haphazardly one day, and now this mental health area has become kind of my place at NBC News and within the show and the creation of ‘Mind Matters’ to find other stories of people like me, whether they’re famous or not,” Daly said.
He hopes the show inspires more people to be comfortable talking about mental health.
“In some regards, we have a long way to go with the stigma, certainly with professional athletes … and I try to do a lot of shining a light on communities of color, because access to mental health care (in these communities) is just awful. And there’s already a stigma that’s worse than it is for white counterparts,” Daly added.
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“But I think by and large, the conversations are happening a lot more frequently. You hear mental health certainly in music and pop culture and from celebrities that are up and coming … and are willing to talk about it. So I definitely think we’re headed in the right direction.”