Zac Efron has opened up about his personal struggle with agoraphobia – the fear of public and unknown spaces.
Speaking in his Men’s Health cover interview, the Baywatch star revealed that he often keeps a low profile due to his anxiety.
“I just don’t go out. People in large groups, it triggers my agoraphobia,” he said.
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According to Health Direct Australia, agoraphobia is “a type of anxiety disorder where a person fears having a panic attack in certain places.”
These locations can include public transport, crowds or queues – “or situations from which escape is difficult.”
Efron’s comment comes after he opened up about retreating to Byron Bay amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time he gave himself a chance to let loose a little bit, and also deal with his agoraphobia.
“At one point, that was a dream of mine,” he explained. “What it would be like to not have to be in shape all the time.”
Since he was a teen, the 34-year-old has faced all kinds of pressure to stay as trim and fit as possible. At various stages in his career, Efron has metamorphosed from lean and toned, to buff and military-like.
In every physique, he’s also been forced to keep a diligent training and diet regiment that sees him rarely get a chance to just be.
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“What if I just say, ‘F–k it’ and let myself go? So I tried it, and I was successful. And for all the reasons I thought it would be incredible, I was just miserable,” he continued.
“My body would not feel healthy; I just didn’t feel alive. I felt bogged down and slow.”
Efron’s agoraphobia, in some ways, is not so surprising. Early in his career – in his High School Musical and 17 Again era – he attracted a teenage-girl fanbase that at many points turned fanatic.
He’s not the only star to open up about having the illness – Kim Basinger, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Sally Field and Emma Stone are all celebrities who struggle with or have struggled with agoraphobia at some point.
Just this year, Basinger opened up about her debilitating struggle with the illness.
“I wouldn’t leave the house. I would no longer go to dinner,” the 68-year-old said on Jada Pinkett Smith’s web series Red Table Talk
“You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.”
In his Men’s Health interview, Efron himself revealed that the meal he and his interviewer shared was his first at a restaurant in a while.
The star also opened up about how he splits his time now, to suit his lifestyle and preferences, reportedly living in Los Angeles in “small doses”.
He apparently has plans to return to Byron Bay one day, where he owns a 130-hectare plot of bushland that he purchased back in 2021.