Seven signs to watch for during the holidays
Elizabeth City, NC (December 3, 2008) – Millions of Americans suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder, a condition causing considerable stress in social situations and impairing one’s ability to function in at least some areas of daily life.
While the holidays are a time of increased social activity and involvement, people who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder may have worse symptoms this time of year. They are often limited in their ability to join in with the social interaction at the office, in school, and at holiday parties.
“While almost everyone is under increased pressure during the holidays, people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder may experience panic attacks, increased worry, depression, and extreme stress in these social situations,” said Dr. Hunter Thompson, clinical director of Albemarle Mental Health Center. “This is a biological illness with genetic and chemical causes. Traumas and other stresses in life can also play a role. Symptoms usually become evident in teens and young adults, but symptoms can be identified back to childhood in many.”
“Left untreated, Social Anxiety Disorder can significantly decrease quality of life, not just impacting one’s ability to meet new people or make new friends, but also one’s scholastic and professional success,” Dr. Thompson continued. “It is important to know there are treatment options available, so if you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from chronic social anxiety, I strongly encourage you to get help.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 15 million American adults suffer from this serious disorder called Social Anxiety Disorder. This makes it one of the most common psychiatric disorders, along with depression and alcohol abuse.
If you or someone you know has the following symptoms at such a level as to prevent normal activity, it may be time to seek professional help. Tracking and noting the severity of your symptoms is a great way to prepare for your first doctor’s appointment.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder include:
- Feeling anxious or afraid when around unfamiliar people or in a situation with the possibility of being watched or judged by others
- Imagining that you will do something to humiliate yourself in an upcoming social situation
- Having extreme anxiety or a panic attack when forced to be in a social situation (raging heartbeat, difficulty breathing, a sense of terror, shaking, heart palpitations, dizziness, excessive sweating, lightheadedness, nausea, hot flashes or sudden chills, tingling in fingers and toes, and sometimes chest pains and a choking feeling)
- Knowing your fear is unreasonable, and yet not being able to stop the feeling
- Avoiding social situations that trigger your fear
- Experiencing problems in your work or daily life because you are unable to participate in social activities without extreme anxiety or panic attacks
- Realizing your unreasonable anxiety itself is causing you more distress
How to Get Help?
- Northeastern North Carolina residents can begin to find help from qualified professionals by:
- Contacting your family physician.
- Visiting www.albemarlemhc.org or calling 1-877-338-8352 for a list of professionals in your area.
- Contacting your local Albemarle Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services office. They provide diagnostic evaluations and treatment for these conditions.
- Avon Unit – serving Hatteras Island
- Camden Unit – serving Camden County
- Columbia Unit – serving Tyrell County
- Edenton United – serving Chowan County
- Elizabeth City Unit – serving Pasquotank County
- Grandy Unit – serving Currituck County
- Hertford Unit – serving Perquimans County
- Nags Head Unit – serving Dare County
- Plymouth Unit – serving Washington County
- Swan Quarter Unit – serving Hyde County
- Williamston Unit – serving Martin County
About Albemarle Mental Health Center
Albemarle Mental Health Center provides and oversees mental health, substance abuse and development disability service delivery to all citizens within the 10-county region of Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Martin, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, and Washington counties. The center also operates the 23-Hour Emergency Psychiatric Unit in Albemarle Hospital that provide emergency psychiatric services. For more information, call 1-877-338-8352 or visit www.albemarlemhc.org.