Gabrielle Union Opened Up About Dealing with PTSD and Anxiety

The actress got real about her mental health in a recent Instagram post.

Close Up of Gabrielle Union
Photo: Getty Images

Gabrielle Union opened up about her experiences with anxiety and post-traumatic stress in a candid Instagram post. Union shared a video of herself posing for photographers at the 2022 Met Gala with a powerful caption to remind others that anxiety and panic attacks can turn even the most glamorous of occasions into "pure agony" due to the ongoing effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"As a rape survivor, I have battled PTSD for 30 years," she explained. Reminder: PTSD can impact anyone who has experienced a "shocking, scary, or dangerous event," according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Symptoms may include intrusive memories (e.g., flashbacks and nightmares); avoidance of places, people, or thoughts that bring back the event; negative changes in thinking and mood; and changes in physical and emotional reactions, including feeling startled or frightened or severe anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"Living with anxiety and panic attacks all these years has never been easy. There [are] times the anxiety is so bad it shrinks my life," Union wrote in her Instagram caption. Research shows that PTSD in survivors of sexual assault is "drastically higher" than in other instances, with around 94 percent of women experiencing PTSD symptoms after an assault.

"Leaving the house or making a left hand turn at an uncontrolled light can fill me with terror," Union wrote in her recent post, opening up about the things that can trigger her. "Anxiety can turn my anticipation about a party or fun event I've been excited about attending (Met Ball) into pure agony," she continued. (

This isn't the first time Union has been open her mental health. "Asking for help, needing help doesn't make you weak or less worthy of love or support or success," she explained to fellow survivors in a 2018 video for the Child Mind Institute's #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign. She's also spoken candidly about going to therapy in previous interviews. (

"When we tell y'all what we are experiencing, please believe us the 1st time we mention it," Union wrote in her Instagram caption, explaining that she and other survivors don't need to be fixed. "No, it's not like being nervous, and everyone experiences and deals with anxiety differently, and that's OK. I don't need you to try to 'fix' me."

Not sure what to say to someone in your own life who has anxiety? Simply checking in and sharing "unconditional love and care" without judgment or shame can offer someone reassurance that they're not alone, according to experts. "Anxiety can be an upsetting and isolating experience, and when a loved one shows support, it can provide a sense of relief and allow the person to feel seen and nurtured," Terri Bacow, Ph.D., New York-based psychologist and author of Goodbye Anxiety, previously told Shape. (See also: What to Say to Someone Who's Depressed, According to Mental Health Experts)

Union ended her caption by reminding followers that they're not alone in their feelings, either. "I share this as I hope everyone living with anxiety knows they aren't alone or 'being extra,'" she wrote. "I see you, I FEEL you, and there is so much love for you. Always. Love and light good people. Be good to each other out there 🖤."

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