Zayn Malik, member of the now-disbanded One Direction, cancelled his UK performance at the London Capital Summertime Ball on Saturday evening. The reason? His anxiety.
The British singer/songwriter took to Instagram and Twitter to explain why he couldn’t perform at the much-anticipated show. “My anxiety that has haunted me throughout the last few months around live performances has gotten the better of me … with the magnitude of the event, I have suffered the worst anxiety of my career,” he wrote in a statement to his fans.
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Malik’s honest Tweet is a moving testament to just how crippling anxiety can be for those who suffer from it—and unfortunately millions do. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect about 18% of adults in the United States.
“Specifically performance anxiety is not unusual,” says Gail Saltz, MD, Health’s contributing psychology editor. “If left untreated, one may become physiologically incapacitated, and the anxiety can grow in severity. Shortness of breath, sweat, and nausea are all symptoms of panic that preclude being on stage and performing.”
Malik’s supermodel girlfriend, Gigi Hadid, supported the artist’s decision, tweeting at him: “You made the best of the situation and have given your fans an opportunity to understand you better as a performer.”
What’s more, Malik is helping others with anxiety disorders understand that they are not alone.