Miley Cyrus Opens Up About Having Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are scary. They can hit you out of the blue, one moment you're fine, and the next your sweating, your heart is racing—in what you're sure is a heart attack—and everything around you is out of your control. Miley Cyrus has been performing practically forever, but during a performance, she felt a panic attack coming on onstage. So she talked to the audience about it.

Striking Out of the Blue

Miley, 28, reportedly took a long pause between songs at Milwaukee's SummerFest on September 18 and told her drummer and musical director that she thought she was having a panic attack.

Then she turned to the audience and opened up about what she was going through. "Like everyone else, for the last year and a half I have been locked away and isolating and it is very stunning to be back in a place that used to feel like second nature," she shared. "Being on stage used to feel like home, and it doesn't anymore because of how much time I spent at home locked away."

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Miley ended on this note: "The pandemic was startling and terrifying and coming out of it is slightly terrifying. So I just wanted to be honest with how I'm feeling."

Video of the moment hit Twitter, with plenty of people cheering Miley on for being so candid. "I appreciate honesty. Shine on superstar!" one wrote. "No matter how many life difficulties come your way, you battle through it. It's The Climb," another said.

Miley posted photos from the concert on social media, but didn't mention the panic attack.

Why Panic Attacks Happen

Panic attacks can be a symptom of panic disorder, a condition that causes anxiety and is considered an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear called panic attacks that last for several minutes or longer, Health previously reported.

Panic attacks can happen at any time, and they can cause a strong physical reaction that can feel like a heart attack. Signs of panic disorder include:

  • Sudden and repeated panic attacks of overwhelming anxiety and fear
  • A feeling of being out of control, or a fear of death or impending doom
  • Physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling, breathing problems, weakness or dizziness, tingly or numb hands, chest pain, stomach pain, and nausea
  • An intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen
  • A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past

Treating Panic Disorders

While scary, a panic disorder is usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. With psychotherapy, a patient learns different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to the feelings that come on with a panic attack and ultimately learns to reduce the fear and anxiety that surrounds them.

Miley has always been outspoken about her mental health. On Variety's The Big Ticket podcast in June 2020, she said that she got sober after having surgery on her vocal cords—and it was partly inspired by her family history with mental health.

"I've been sober-sober for the past six months,'' she said. "At the beginning, it was just about this vocal surgery. … But I had been thinking a lot about my mother. My mom was adopted, and I inherited some of the feelings she had, the abandonment feelings and wanting to prove that you're wanted and valuable."

Miley also said that she looked a lot at her family history "which has a lot of addiction and mental health challenges." "So just going through that and asking, 'Why am I the way that I am?'" she said. "By understanding the past, we understand the present and the future much more clearly. I think therapy is great."

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