Sheridan Smith health: Star ‘seizured five times’ after stopping anti-anxiety medication

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The Pooch Perfect host was taking anti-anxiety medication to manage her symptoms, then decided to come off of them cold turkey. This lead to Sheridan Smith being rushed off to A&E as she experienced five seizures. Revealing all in her ITV documentary Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum (available now on the ITV Hub), the 39-year-old revealed the moment she “went off”. It was at the 2016 TV BAFTAs, where Graham Norton was hosting and made a joke about Sheridan being drunk.

“I was so humiliated,” she said in the documentary. “It’s a room full of your peers, people you want to work with or have worked with.

“That night, for me, was like the final straw before my brain totally went off the deep end.”

Stating she was “addicted to anti-anxiety tablets” at the time, it was that evening Sheridan decided to stop taking them.

“That night I took myself off to a hotel on my own,” she recalled. “In my crazy mind, I thought, ‘I’ll do it [stop taking the tablets] myself’.”

However, by a stroke of luck – and in Sheridan’s eyes, a “miracle” – a friend of hers called and came to the hotel she was staying at.

READ MORE: Stephen Fry health: Star provides update on his prostate cancer status

Any seizure that lasts for five minutes or longer is a medical emergency.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) noted that benzodiazepines are the most common form of anti-anxiety medication.

Coming off such medication is to be done “gradually, over an extended period of time”.

Signs of anxiety

Anxiety UK explained stated: “Anxiety can affect any of us, in different ways and at different times.”

Some people are aware of their anxiety triggers, while others may not be able to pin-point the cause of their distress.

However, the charity points out a helpful analogy – “imagine your stress levels as being like a bucket of water”.

Each stressor, no matter how small, will gradually fill up the water bucket.

Then, one day, when one more stressor overflows the bucket, anxiety can seemingly come out from the blue.

“What you need is a leaky bucket, with lots of holes to reduce overall stress levels” said Anxiety UK.

These “holes” can be stress management techniques, such as: yoga, exercise, reading, listening to music, spending time with loves ones, and/or therapy.

There are often physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms of anxiety.

Physically a person may experience:

  • Increased heart rate or increased muscle tension
  • ‘Jelly legs’ or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation (breathing too heavily) or dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing or a tight band across the chest
  • Wanting to use the toilet more often
  • Feeling sick
  • Tension headaches
  • Hot flushes or increased perspiration
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking or palpitations
  • Choking sensations

Psychological symptoms can include feeling that:

  • You might lose control and/or go ‘mad’; or you might die
  • You might have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
  • People are looking at you and noticing your anxiety
  • Things are speeding up/slowing down
  • You’re detached from your environment and the people in it
  • You want to run away/escape from the situation
  • You’re on edge and alert to everything around you

Sheridan Smith’s eight-part BBC One show Pooch Perfect continues on Thursday, January 14 at 8pm.

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