Brett Eldredge Reveals His Longtime Struggle With Anxiety

Brett Eldredge performing on stage
Photo by John Russell/CMA

From the outside looking in, Country singer Brett Eldredge seems to have it all. The “Wanna Be That Song” singer is on the road for his headlining tour The Long Way tour and has seven No. 1 hits songs under his belt. But what we fans couldn’t see is that the Illinois native suffers with panic attacks.

Brett sat down with ABC’s Dan Harris to talk about his struggles as part of an ABC News podcast “10% Happier.”

“I would just live in my own trapped box and no one would know,” Brett revealed to Dan. “As a kid, I would kind of have like a panic attack … but I didn’t even know what that was. [In] college, I remember times where I would go to a party and I would be breaking into sweats and, like, just drenched, and I’d just [think], ‘Is something wrong with me?’”

Brett’s anxiety attacks got so bad that they would land the singer in the hospital on several occasions. As Brett’s career began to take off, Brett worried about taking the stage in front of thousands of people.

“I would build myself up to thinking something was going to happen to me when I was on the stage, or that I was going to have a panic attack on stage, or I was like, ‘They’re going to see me as a fool,’” Brett said. “I could be a superhero up there once I get there. … I’m in my element, in my flow of what I do. I turn into the best version… of myself. It’s all the psyche going up to it.”

On one such occasion, Brett worked himself into a frenzy that it almost prevented him from taking the stage.

“I remember I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m freaked out and I’m short of breath and I’m seeing stars,’ and I had to sit down on the side of the stage,” Brett reveals. “Then I get out there, and eventually it’s OK.”

As time went on, the 32-year-old singers found ways to cope with his panic attacks, including seeing a therapist, limiting his phone and social media use and spending time outside with his dog Edgar. It was his recent focus on being healthy, both mentally and physically, that has helped him deal with the attacks.

“I might play in front of 30,000 people and then I walk off — and this is really hard to explain to people because it’s such a weird experience — but walking off stage and going onto your bus, and you’re by yourself after having the most insane adrenaline rush ever,” Brett said. “Everybody’s going crazy… people give you high-fives, and then [you climb onto] your bus and it’s just you and the walls of a tour bus. I’d be there by myself. Now I’ve got Edgar to be there with me. It just made me more happy.

“I still have trouble… it’s not like I’m not happy. I just get so into trying to be the best at what I do. We’re all trying to strive for these goals. You sacrifice a lot of what you love to do that,” Brett added. “If I can continue to grow, and [grow] with mindfulness, I think that it can become a thing where it helps everything that I do — and it already does.”