Ellie Goulding Opens Up About Anxiety and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Ellie Goulding revealed in the summer issue of “Flare” magazine that she dealt with severe anxiety early in her career. The 29-year-old British singer-songwriter told the magazine her symptoms, which worsened as her career took off, were intrusive.

“My surroundings would trigger a panic attack, so I couldn’t go to the studio unless I was lying down in the car with a pillow over my face,” Goulding said.

Brandon Ballantyne, a member of the American Counseling Association and a Licensed Professional Counselor, said anxiety like Goulding’s can be especially problematic.

“I like to refer to anxiety as a survival emotion,” Ballantyne told The Mighty in an email. “Anxiety provides information to our brain about the level of danger that exists in the external events we face daily. Problems develop when we ‘think’ about events as if they were ‘life-threatening’ or potentially ‘injury-provoking’ when there is little or no evidence to suggest that this is realistic. Individuals with anxiety issues may experience extreme cognitive behavioral reactions to normal everyday situations that do not necessarily require a ‘fight-or-flight’ response.”

According to “Flare,” Goulding underwent cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to cope with stress.

“I was skeptical at first because I’d never had therapy, but not being able to leave the house was so debilitating,” Goulding said.

The pop star said CBT has enabled her to retain control over her anxiety and curb her panic attacks.

“There were a couple of times after I released ‘Delirium’ when I was doing promo and thought, ‘Oh god, it’s coming back, it’s coming back,’ but it didn’t. I think my body has become quite good at controlling anxiety,” she said.

Ballantyne said CBT theory, which views thoughts as an automatic response to a situation, can be especially helpful in cases like Goulding’s.

“CBT places increased focus on thoughts,” Ballantyne said. “It emphasizes that thoughts are different from emotions. Thoughts create emotions. Emotions influence behaviors. If we can challenge our automatic thinking, we can achieve more desirable emotions and/or reduce the intensity of unpleasant emotions; therefore laying the ‘blueprint’ for healthier behavior responses and reactions.”

CBT aims to help people with anxiety reframe the thoughts that unnerve them.

“The goal of CBT, as it pertains to anxiety, is to increase the awareness of the patterns in the automatic thinking and develop recognition of how thoughts such as ‘This is a complete catastrophe’ may intensify the anxiety that comes next,” Ballantyne said. “If this awareness and recognition develops effectively, CBT can assist individuals with learning how to ‘challenge’ the ‘reality’ of their automatic thoughts.”

Have you undergone therapy for anxiety? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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