She started feeling anxious right before take-off.

By Allie Strickler
Victor Chavez/Contributor/Getty Images

Fitness influencer Jen Selter doesn't usually share details about her life beyond exercise and traveling. This week, though, she gave her followers a candid glimpse into her experience with anxiety.

On Wednesday, Selter posted a teary-eyed selfie on her Instagram Story. Below the photo, she wrote that she had a "major anxiety attack" before take-off on a flight.

"I'm not really sure what triggered it (I'm not really scared of flying)," she wrote. "All I know is that mental health is something we need to talk about OPENLY." (Related: 9 Celebrities Who Are Vocal About Mental Health Issues)

Aside from a 2017 blog post about how to stop worrying and the occasional tweet about anxiety, Selter rarely discusses mental health on her platforms.

But now, she's "realizing that [mental health issues are] not something to be embarrassed, ashamed, or mad at myself for," she wrote on her Instagram Story. "Anxiety is something I have been dealing with." (Related: Why You Should Stop Saying You Have Anxiety If You Really Don't)

Selter explained that she hasn't had an anxiety attack "in a while." But this latest experience felt like a "wake up call that I need to get some professional help and guidance on how I can overcome and cope with this," she wrote. "And THAT'S OKAY!!! It's okay to ask for help," she added.

ICYDK, an anxiety attack happens when you're worried about a future event and "anticipating a bad outcome," Ricks Warren, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, explained in a blog post for the university. "It's often involved with muscle tension and a general feeling of uneasiness. And it usually comes on gradually."

Though anxiety attacks sound similar to panic attacks, they're not quite the same. "A panic attack is different. It's associated with a very abrupt onset of intense fear because of a sense of threat happening right now, the fight-or-flight response that we’re hardwired to have in order to deal with immediate danger. It sets off that alarm," said Dr. Warren. (Here are some panic attack warning signs to watch out for.)

Selter elaborated on her IG Story in a later post on her main feed: "Anxiety is something I've struggled with since high school and unfortunately right now it's the worst it has ever been," she wrote. "Times like these remind me how important it is for me to use my platform to educate and bring attention to topics such as the stigma surrounding mental health."

It's not easy to share such raw moments of your life with nearly 13 million people. Thank you, Jen, for showing us there's strength in vulnerability.

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