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Emma Stone Opens Up to Jennifer Lawrence About Childhood Anxiety in Elle Interview


Emma Stone has been open about living with anxiety in the past, and in a fun interview with fellow actor Jennifer Lawrence, she emphasized a point many people forget: children can have serious anxiety, and sometimes it can appear for seemingly no reason at all. 

Lawrence asked Stone, “Do you remember a time when you felt more anxious than you ever had?”

Stone replied that the most anxious she’s ever felt was actually at 7 years old:

That’s when I started having panic attacks, which I’ve talked about pretty extensively. I think your wiring is just kind of what you are. My mom always says that I was born with my nerves outside of my body. But I’m lucky for the anxiety, because it also makes me high-energy.

It can be easy to see children and think, “What do they have to be anxious about?” Some people even think children can’t experience “real” anxiety or that it’s simply something they’ll grow out of

Part of this misconception could be because anxiety in children can come out in ways adults wouldn’t expect. For example, in a piece called, “34 Behaviors Kids Did That Were Code for ‘I’m Anxious,” community members shared some signs they were experiencing anxiety as kids. Some of these “behaviors” include: crying constantly, biting and pinching arms, hiding, fidgeting and zoning out. 

To find out when other people in our community first started experiencing anxiety, we posed the question to our mental health community. Turns out, Stone isn’t the only one whose anxiety started early in childhood.

Here’s what they shared with us: 

  1. “I started having panic attacks when I was 5, whenever I was away from home.” — Mackenzie C. 
  2. “Probably in first grade (around 6 years old) on car rides to school. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of fear that sometimes even made me physically sick. Never knew what it was until I got older and looked back, realizing it was one of the first signs of my generalized anxiety disorder.” — Kira M.
  3. “I was about 10 when I had my first panic attack. Didn’t know what it was at the time but I remember it very vividly.” — Denise H.
  4. “I was just a little thing, maybe 4 or 5, I was supposed to be napping but I was convinced the house was going to catch fire. So I refused to let myself sleep so that if the house caught fire I could make sure everyone got out of the house. That was the beginning of my insomnia. I have spent nearly every night since keeping myself awake ‘just in case.'” — Billikay P. 
  5. “As young as like 9 I remember worrying about the silliest things and was always picked on for being ‘too sensitive.'” — Sonya T.
  6. “I’ve been extremely anxious since I was little. I remember throwing up in grade school because I was so anxious.” — Mykaila P. 
  7. “Youngest I felt extreme anxiety was probably around 6 years old. Whenever I’d stay at someone else’s house I’d have a panic attack and breakdown and have to be taken home because being away from my own house for the night terrified me.” — Caitlin T. 
  8. “I was 11 years old when I described the feeling as ‘a weird feeling’ and because English isn’t my first language, I didn’t know of the term ‘anxiety’ for a long time either. ” — Muskan V.
  9. “I was in seventh or eight grade, and all I remember is sitting on the floor of the school bathroom, leaning against the cool tile, trying to stop crying and breathe.” — Darcy R. 
  10. “I think I was about 13. That’s when I had my first panic attack. I didn’t know what was happening. I thought I was going crazy. I just wanted to die. I will never, ever forget it.” — Gloricaa K. 
  11. “I was 4 and my mom was leaving me at Pre K. I remember screaming for my mama and that I couldn’t breathe. My cousin who was in the same class as me came up to me and sat down and hugged me until I calmed down. That afternoon my mom had to talk to the teachers and from then on I only stayed in Pre K for about a half a day until I was comfortable with them.” — Barbara L. 
  12. “Around the age of 10 I got severe stomach pains before school, nearly every day. Multiple trips to the doctors found nothing wrong and I’d be dropped off a few hours late. Only figured it out about 15 years later when diagnosed with anxiety and depression.” — Sariana F. 

If you experienced anxiety as a child, you’re not alone. Check out the pieces below if you’re interested in learning more about childhood anxiety:

You can read the full interview with Stone in Elle here.