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Carson Daly Opens Up About His First-Ever Panic Attack in Moving Speech

The Voice Host was open about his experience to raise awareness for others going through the same thing.

By Jackie Manno

October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, and to honor the noble cause, The Voice Host Carson Daly spoke at an inaugural gala for Project Healthy Minds (PHM), a nonprofit centered around removing the stigma on speaking out about mental health issues. 

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During Daly's poignant speech at the event, he opened up about a pivotal moment in his life that he's learned and grown from: his first panic attack. 

Carson Daly speaks about his first panic attack

When Daly was hosting MTV's famed TRL, he began to have the psychical symptoms of a panic attack while in his dressing room. "I felt what I can describe as a snap in my brain. My heart started to race and fear went through my body. It was like somebody cracked one of those cold compresses at a little league game and put it on my neck," he described the experience. 

Not knowing what happened to him, Daly went to a medical doctor, who explained to him what a panic attack was for the first time. From there, Daly knew he needed to take action. 

"That’s when I decided to take the single most important step in my mental health journey. It’s not riveting. So hold onto your seats. Ready for it? Here’s what I did. I took the wildest leap. I opened up and I talked to a friend," Daly said during his speech. 

Carson Daly at podium delivering a speech

He continued: "I may never cure my anxiety, sometimes it’s tough, but it’s more important that I had the bravery to share my story just in case. It helps somebody the way that my friend helped me. I did that. Rebel stuff, right? And he looked at me and he said, 'Man, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I had those all through school growing up.' And just hearing him say that was revelatory."

"I was so happy to learn that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. I wasn’t alone. He said I need to talk to a professional, not a doctor, a mental health professional. And again, this is something I did not know existed. I didn’t grow up with any of this. We didn’t talk about our mental health. It was, "Suck it up," he insightfully added. 

Daly then sought treatment with a mental health professional, who helped him manage his anxiety with exposure therapy. 

Carson Daly's mental health panel with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

As apart of Project Healthy Minds' World Mental Health Day Festival, Daly moderated a Q&A with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The half-hour panel — called The Archewell Foundation Summit in partnership with the couple's organization — focused on the way in which social media is affecting the mental health of children.

RELATED: Carson Daly's 4 Kids Adorably Crashed The Voice Set

"As a mom of two young kids, after the stories that we heard today from these families that you've gotten to know over the past year and the work that Archewell is doing in this space, where is this on the priority list, not as a kick-ass woman, but as a mom? Excuse my French!" Daly asked Markle, according to People.

"Everyone is affected by the online world and social media. We all just want to feel safe. I'm confident that with more ears and awareness and visibility of what is really happening, we can make some significant change together," she responded. 

Carson Daly's contributions to Project Healthy Minds

Carson daly and his son with Today cast at Project Healthy Mind's Gala in NYC for World Mental Health Day, Oct 10, 2023.

Nowadays, Daly is using his knowledge about mental health to help others going through similar struggles. Daly knew he wanted to be a part of Project Healthy Minds when he interviewed the rapper Logic and PHM CEO Phil Schermer six years ago, where they announced the birth of the organization.

"I decided that I didn’t just want to help promote them, I wanted to join them. I wanted to help in the fight," Daly explained. "They are helping to change the narrative around mental health," he added. 

With the cause, Daly said that he wants to help "build a world where everyone knows that mental health isn’t something to hide from. But a journey to take openly and a journey where you’ll find support along the way."

"There is everybody going through something that we cannot see. We have to convince people that grappling with your mental health does not make you weak learning about it, managing it, making it work for you, turning your vulnerability into your greatest strength. That’s what makes you strong." he added. 

At the event on October 10, Daly's wife, Siri Pinter, his 14-year-old son Jackson, and his TODAY co-hosts Al Roker, Craig Melvin, and Savannah Guthrie were all there to support him. 

RELATED: Carson Daly's Pays Tribute to Smash Mouth's Steve Harwell

"Huge love to my work fam & real fam for showing up for me," he wrote in an Instagram caption.

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