Little Mix star Perrie Edwards has revealed she struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, opening up to her fans to help others going through similar experiences.
The singer said her first panic attack a few years ago was “so intense and overwhelming” that she thought she was having a heart attack.
In an emotional post on Instagram, Edwards said that at her lowest, she did not want to leave the house.
She also revealed she had been to therapy sessions and that reducing her time on social media had helped.
“When I first started to feel the effects of anxiety I thought I was losing my mind and it terrified me,” she said.
“I felt so alone and like I was the first person in the world to ever experience it.”
She added: “The first panic attack was so intense and overwhelming. I felt like I was having a heart attack – I was so scared and confused and had no idea what was happening to me.
“I’m not sure what triggered that first one but it soon spiralled and I found myself in a really dark place, feeling alone and scared.”
Edwards, who rose to fame when Little Mix became the first group to win X Factor in 2011, went on to explain that while she had lots of friends and family around her, “I couldn’t explain to them what was happening to me or why”.
She continued: “It affected me so badly that I didn’t even want to leave the house. I would step foot out the door and feel the overwhelming need to go straight back inside. It completely took over my life.”
The 25-year-old said the physical attacks have now stopped “but unfortunately the anxiety lives on”.
She said that while she has sometimes felt “like a prisoner in my own head”, realising she is not alone has helped.
Her post has been liked more than 1.2 million times in less than 24 hours, with Little Mix bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock and boyfriend Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who plays football for Liverpool and England, showing their support with emoji messages.
“It feels like the most unnatural thing in the world but the thing that helped me the most was discovering I’m not alone,” she said.
“I’m not the only person going through this. There are people all over the world feeling the exact same way I do! As soon as I realised I wasn’t going insane I felt more eager to beat it.”
Edwards said she had gone through therapy, and that “talking to someone relieves you of SO MUCH STRESS”.
She added: “I restricted my time on social media which often made me feel trapped and claustrophobic.”
She finished by saying: “I don’t want to hide it anymore. I suffer from anxiety and I want you to all know if you suffer from anxiety you’re not alone.”
Edwards is one of a number of high profile figures, including Lady Gaga, Glenn Close and Prince Harry, who have recently spoken out about their own mental health issues.