By Anita Tai.

Elizabeth Olsen shares her mental health struggles early on in her career.

The actress, who has seen her star on the rise with her role as Scarlet Witch in “six movies and a TV show” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, looked back on her younger years in the business.

Olsen recalled a period while living in New York City when she was suffering panic attacks almost daily.

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“I didn’t understand what anxiety or a panic attack was until I was 21. Started getting panic attacks. I remember I would get them on the hour every hour,” she shared while speaking to Variety. “I used to live on 13th Street between 6th and 7th. I was crossing 6th Avenue at 14th Street, and I realized I couldn’t cross the street — I stood up against the wall, and I just thought I was going to drop dead at any moment.”

The actress did seek medical attention for her condition, but never truly found out the cause.

“If I went from cold to hot, hot to cold, full to hungry, hungry to full — any kind of shift in my body, my whole body thought, ‘Uh oh, something’s wrong!’” And I just started spiraling,” she explained. “It was so weird. A ENT doctor said that it could be vertigo related because it was all about truly spinning. So it was an interesting six months.”

She eventually overcame her problem with the help of a friend’s neuropsychiatrist.

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“I had a friend who was seeing a neuropsychiatrist — or psychologist, I don’t know if they medicated — because she had panic attacks before me. And learned a lot of brain games,” said Olsen. “It actually was very similar to an acting exercise that we did at Atlantic, which is called repetition, where you just are constantly making observations about the person in front of you and you’re just trying to connect.”

She continued, “When I would walk down the street, I would just start naming everything I saw out loud to get myself out of the spiraling thoughts in my brain. That was a helpful tool. But it just became a practice that got me out of it. I didn’t want to be on medication, but I had medication in case I felt like I was having an emergency and just having that in my bag felt good.”


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Ellen Bullock