TV presenter speaks out over battle with panic attacks

07 April 2016 - 02:49 By Leonie Wagner

Television presenter Lalla Hirayama works in an industry that thrives on pressure - so having a panic disorder can be debilitating.Five years after being diagnosed with the disorder, Hirayama brings the phrase "play through the pain" to life.The 28-year-old Vuzu presenter and host of M-Net Movies' Lalla Land said during her first panic attacks it felt as if someone had a gun to her head.She said she started shaking, had difficulty breathing and felt as though she was dying.Speaking out about the condition for the first time, Hirayama, currently in Los Angeles, said: "I've had multiple panic attacks on air but I've just carried on presenting because the show must go on."Hirayama said she was choosing to speak out about the condition because she did not want people to think she was on drugs and that women needed to know that the condition "is normal and can be managed".Clinical psychologist Zamo Mbele said panic attacks often had similar symptoms to heart attacks without the biological impact.Panic attacks form part of the broad range of anxiety disorders, and anxiety is also often linked to depression.Cassey Chambers, a spokesman for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, said that anxiety disorders affected 8.1% of the population.Mbele said these anxiety disorders were widespread and this statistic was "conservative", as many might not expose themselves to a diagnosis because of the stigma attached to them.But medication, psychotherapy, exercise, a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle can control anxiety disorders.When she was first diagnosed, Hirayama said she was having up to 12 panic attacks a day.But now the television presenter - who doesn't smoke, or drink alcohol or caffeine - says she's taken to yoga and other exercise to help get control."It's no joke," she said.

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