What Triggered Dan Harris’ Televised Panic Attack?

Mondays with Marlo

Anxiety affects us all in different ways, For ABC news Anchor Dan Harris, secretly living with anxiety finally took its toll the form of a severe panic attack – on live TV. We were thrilled to have Dan come by and share his story, but even more thrilled to learn from him what we can do about our own issues with panic and anxiety.

A case of the “shpilkes”

It started as an ordinary morning in 2004. Dan was filling in reading the headlines on Good Morning America, a show only watched by about 5.019 million people back then. During an short bulletin on new medicine, Harris started to break down. “I just lost it,” he recalled, “My heart started racing, my lungs seized up, my palms were sweating, my mouth dried up, I couldn’t breathe.” He struggled through the last few lines of the bulletin, then signed off as professionally as he possibly could. It was he clear to him that he had experienced his worst panic attack ever. While it may not have looked as bad as it could’ve, he insists that inside, “the universe was closing in”.

Anxiety, Ambition, and Adrenaline

How did Dan get to this point? It may have been a mix between his job and some specific timing. Dan joined ABC News at just 28 years old. Soon after, 9/11 occurred, and Dan, who calls himself “very ambitious” volunteered to go overseas and cover the tumultuous aftermath without thinking about the psychological effects. He travelled through Iraq, Israel, the Gaza strip, and, in his own words, “got addicted to it.” When he came back to the states, he started experiencing symptoms of depression. It was difficult for him to get out of bed, and he started leaning on drugs to compensate. In hindsight, Dan believes he was going through a sort of “adrenaline withdrawal”, and it was the perfect storm of his self-medicating and his own existing anxiety issues that led to his 2004 attack.

Watch the rest of the interview with Dan Harris here.

Also, be sure to check out Dan’s new meditation app 10% Happier – a 2 week crash course in meditation, with guided sessions from Dan and personal life-coaching tips!

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