Rachel Riley Says She 'Avoids' Strictly As She Developed PTSD After Competing On Show

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Rachel Riley  (Photo: Eamonn McCormack via Getty Images)
Rachel Riley (Photo: Eamonn McCormack via Getty Images)

Rachel Riley has revealed that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder after appearing on Strictly Come Dancing.

The Countdown presenter appeared on the BBC ballroom show in 2013 and went on to marry her dance partner Pasha Kovalev.

However, Rachel has now said she no longer watches Strictly and can’t even listen to the its theme tune after her experience on the show left her in need of therapy.

“I needed cognitive behavioural therapy after competing in 2013 and developed post-traumatic stress disorder,” she told OK! magazine.

“If I heard the theme music, I’d start reliving the experience. It was scary and unnerving, so my way of dealing with it is to avoid watching.”

Rachel met husband Pasha Kovalev when they were paired together on Strictly (Photo: Jeff Spicer via Getty Images)
Rachel met husband Pasha Kovalev when they were paired together on Strictly (Photo: Jeff Spicer via Getty Images)

Rachel added: “Mind you, if I hadn’t competed, I wouldn’t have met Pasha.

“He’s brilliant. And when you need a bit of support, that’s when you know you’re with the right person.”

The mathematics whizz previously admitted she had advised friends against signing up for the BBC series.

She told The Times: “I advise friends not to go on the show and I know people who have dropped out of it due to the mental pressures involved.”

Rachel is not the only former contestant who has opened up about how the pressures of Strictly affected their mental health.

Earlier this week, Nina Wadia – who was the first celebrity voted off this year’s series – revealed she struggled after her unexpectedly early exit.

Speaking to the podcast Lads, Dads And A Couple Of Beers, the former EastEnders star said: “I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it happened, and it happened very quickly,” she explained. “It was all very surreal for me, and when I came out I was very down.

“My mental health, I’ve got to tell... I was down. That was from a lot of different feelings.”

Nina added: “There was a feeling of embarrassment coming out as early as I did, there was a feeling of, ‘did I let people down, did I let myself down?’. All these questions going on in my head.”

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk

  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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