Elizabeth Olsen Recalls Getting Panic Attacks Every Hour on the Streets of New York

Elizabeth Olsen said she did not experience panic attacks until she turned a certain age while living in New York.

By Angie Orellana Hernandez Oct 04, 2022 3:14 AMTags
Watch: Why Elizabeth Olsen Is Nervous to Watch "Infinity War"

Elizabeth Olsen "didn't understand" feelings of panic until she reached a certain age.

The Marvel actress got candid about how she experienced panic attacks in New York at age 21, a feeling she said she wasn't aware of as she was a very loud and confident kid growing up.

"I remember I would get [panick attacks] on the hour every hour," Olsen said in an interview with Variety published Oct. 3. "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."

Olsen described the "spiraling" feeling that would happen in her body at signs of change in her environment.

"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!'" Olsen told the publication. "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."

Origin Stories: How Marvel Cast All Of Your Favorite Superheroes

To cope with the feelings, the WandaVision star looked to a friend who was seeing a medical professional for panic attacks and knew a lot of brain games. Olsen learned one strategy called "repetition" as a grounding technique.

"It actually was very similar to an acting exercise that we did at Atlantic," Olsen said, referencing her time at the Atlantic Acting School in New York. "You just are constantly making observations about the person in front of you and you're just trying to connect."

Noam Galai/Getty Images for Disney

She added, "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."

The Doctor Strange actress said the technique was a "helpful tool," but still recalled her panic attacks as "very weird" because she was not anxious as a child.

Read more about her childhood and how she became such a force in Hollywood here.

For the latest breaking news updates, click here to download the E! News App