Reese Witherspoon experienced panic attacks in the weeks leading up to the shooting of the 2014 adventure film Wild. And as the actor explained in a recent interview, she turned to hypnosis to cope with it.
Witherspoon told Tracee Ellis Ross in Interview magazine that her role in Wild was the one that changed her the most. The focus of the film is the character of Witherspoon, who treads the Pacific Crest Trail alone, recalling experiences with occasional sex and drug use. “I had panic attacks for three weeks before I started. There was nudity, sexuality and drug use, but also being alone in front of the camera with no other actors, ”said Witherspoon. “I had never been alone in scenes for days. There were probably 25 days of shooting that no other actor was facing me. It was just me, a camera and a backpack. “
She continued, “I was so scared of it, Tracee. I was under hypnosis, I was so scared. ”
Different people may have different panic attack symptoms, but they usually come with a sudden, intense sense of fear. Panic attacks can also be accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, lightheadedness, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath. Some people describe panic attacks as feeling like a heart attack and at times they can cause a feeling of impending doom or death. Overall, they’re pretty uncomfortable.
Many people experience a panic attack every now and then. However, in some people, panic attacks can get so common that they are considered a panic disorder. People with panic disorder also have unconstrained seizures and typically feel extremely distressed at the thought of having another after one panic attack.
Treatment for panic attacks usually includes psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. Some people also benefit from taking certain medications that can relieve panic attack symptoms.
And for some, hypnosis can be a helpful addition to therapy. Hypnosis is a legitimate therapeutic technique, but real hypnotherapy is a little different from the way it’s usually portrayed on television and in movies. In reality, hypnosis is less about mind control and more about creating a state of deep relaxation and calm that can facilitate other types of treatments or therapies, explains the American Psychological Association (APA). While not everyone reacts the same way, hypnosis can be a useful part of treatment for people struggling with anxiety, phobias, depression, pain, some gastrointestinal disorders, and some skin conditions, the APA says.
Clearly, for Witherspoon, filming Wild was an intense situation – and it changed her “on a cellular level,” she said. Hypnosis was only part of the experience.