Riverdale’s Madelaine Petsch is telling deep truths about living with social anxiety and panic attacks. In the August cover story of Nylon, the star shares how she copes with both of these mental health struggles.
Petsch, 24, also disavowed the “stigma” surrounding going to therapy, which she says she uses to improve her mental state.
“Talk about stigma, dude,” Petsch told Nylon. “I mean, I didn’t even know what it was, but I used to get really bad panic attacks right before I booked Riverdale. Then, I started getting really bad social anxiety, and I only was able to home in on what those things are and work through them [with therapy].”
"I'm not saying I've even made a dent in all the work I need to do, but just being able to home in on what it is and identify it is the first step,” Petsch continued. “I only could have done that with therapy. So I understand that maybe people think that there is some kind of stigma around therapy, but, like, you talk to your mom, you talk to your friends — it's the same thing."
Social anxiety disorder affects 6.8% of Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The ADAA says symptoms include “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.” When a person has a panic attack, they often experience difficulty breathing, a pounding heart, and fear in response to various situations, according to Cleveland Clinic. Although the medical community doesn’t fully understand panic attacks, they believe they happen because of a combination of biology and environmental stresses. Petsch says she leans on her costars and dried fruit snacks for support when she’s having a rough go of it.
“If I’m having a bad day and I’m feeling like my anxiety is through the roof, I will call [costar] Cami[la Mendes], and I will go to her place, and we’ll eat dried apricots and talk about all of my problems until I have vented it out,” she says.
She also opened up about feeling like her life had to be perfect, and how she came to terms with the fact that everyone is human, and art can be messy. "There’s no such thing as perfect art and artist," she said.