Hailey Bieber reveals mental health struggle after mini-stroke: What to know about PTSD
Nearly one year after suffering a mini-stroke, Hailey Bieber is opening up about the mental health struggles she said she faced after the health scare.
The 26-year-old supermodel revealed on the podcast “The Run-Through with Vogue” that she has suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, after experiencing stroke-like symptoms in March 2022.
“I struggled with a lot of anxiety after. I struggled with a little bit of PTSD of just like the fear of maybe it was gonna happen again,” Bieber said. “It was so terrifying, so jarring, so discombobulating in every single way that you could imagine.”
Bieber has shared previously that she was eating breakfast on March 10, 2022, when she started to feel a “weird sensation” that she said traveled from her shoulder to arm to her fingers, leaving them numb.
Bieber said she also couldn’t talk while experiencing the stroke-like symptoms.
“I couldn’t get a sentence out. Everything was coming out, like, not even jumbled, just, like, couldn’t get any of the words out,” she said in an Instagram video posted after she recovered. “The right side of my face started drooping.”
“On Thursday morning, I was sitting at breakfast with my husband when I started having stroke-like symptoms and was taken to the hospital,” Bieber wrote. “[The doctors] found I had suffered a very small blood clot to my brain, which caused a small lack of oxygen, but my body had passed it on its own and I recovered completely within a few hours.”
At the hospital, Bieber said she was found to have a small blood clot in her brain, which she said doctors categorized as a transient ischemic attack.
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those of a stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic. A TIA usually lasts only a few minutes and doesn’t cause permanent damage. It’s also known as a mini-stroke.
The American Stroke Association says TIAs are caused by a clot or blockage in the brain. The clot usually dissolves on its own or it gets dislodged.
Bieber said on the podcast that she was in Palm Springs, California, at the time of the health scare. She said returning to that location leaves her feeling “very triggered.”
“Even the first couple of times coming back here after was like a little bit of a strange, triggering kind of feeling for me because it’s like you just remember exactly how everything happened in that moment,” she said, adding that she’s opening up about her experience to help others. “With time, it gets better. It’s something that I’m definitely very open to talking about if it could help anybody else.”
What to know about PTSD following a health scare
Bieber is not alone in facing mental health struggles after physically recovering from a health scare like a mini-stroke, experts said.
“We do know that after a serious injury or illness, PTSD can be quite common,” Dr. Rebecca Brendel, a psychiatrist and president of the American Psychiatric Association, told “Good Morning America.” “People oftentimes will want to avoid situations or reminders of the scary thing that happened to them or the event that caused trauma.”
She continued, “They may experience negative thoughts, irritable mood, inability to sleep or even feeling down.”
As many as 25% of people who suffer from a stroke may develop PTSD, according to the American Heart Association.
PTSD is defined as a disorder that, “develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH notes that while it is typical to experience a range of emotions and reactions after trauma, PTSD is diagnosed in people who continue to experience difficult emotions long after the trauma.
“People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger,” the NIH explains.
In addition, while symptoms of PTSD, like flashbacks, bad dreams, negative thoughts, sweating and a racing heart, typically occur within three months, in some people the symptoms may begin years later, according to the NIH.
In order to have a diagnosis of PTSD, according to the American Psychiatric Association, symptoms must last for longer than one month and “cause significant distress or problems in the individual’s daily functioning.”
The APA notes that just as PTSD is experienced differently by different people, no treatment is the same.
In some cases, PTSD symptoms go away or lessen on their own with time, or a person with PTSD can be helped by family and friends.
In many cases though, a PTSD diagnosis requires professional mental health treatment to recover from, according to the APA.
“It is important to remember that trauma may lead to severe distress. That distress is not the individual’s fault, and PTSD is treatable,” the APA says on its website. “The earlier a person gets treatment, the better chance of recovery.”
According to both the APA and NIH, treatment for the disorder can include everything from medication to psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapies to alternative treatments like yoga, acupuncture and working with animals.
Image: THEO WARGO/GETTY