Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Season of Cheer or Season of Fear?

"With the holidays season upon us, people everywhere are beginning to prepare for parties, get-togethers and gatherings with neighbors, families and friends.

Such occasions are generally festive, but for the millions of Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders, the "season of cheer" can be the "season of fear."

One form of anxiety is called social phobia, or social anxiety disorder. As with many psychological conditions, the diagnosis is made when feelings and symptoms that are normal in everyone become amplified to the extent that they affect one's daily life.

The condition commonly starts during the teen years and, for some, may persist for many years or even a lifetime. It can be a major source of stress. Although the cause is not completely understood, there seems to be both a genetic predisposition as well as an environmental component. Social phobia sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for certain why some people experience it and others don't.

Social anxiety disorder can be treated with counseling and/or medications. Some of the medicines that are used to treat problems such as depression also are helpful for social phobia, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines and beta blockers. Your health professional can determine which course of action is best for you."

Mitchell, T. (2009, November 15). Do you have social phobia? USA Weekend Magazine Weekend Magazine


Lisa Marie said...

Went through a phase of this during the low points of my recovery, mainly when I was dredging up a lot of "forgotten" memories. I have a feeling it was my body's way of keeping me safe at home when I was feeling anything but in the "outside" world. It's a tough thing to go through...

S'onnie said...

christmas is the one time of year I really dread. I think having been estranged from my family for years really brings on the lonliness when you see everyone with their family.

People forget about those on their own, not delibritely everyone just gets caught up with their own family.

I doubt I will be spending christmas with my family, while we have come a long way in the last 2 years, we certainly aren't ready to spend christmas together.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Lisa,
I always listen to my body. Sounds like you do too. Sorry that you are going through tough things.

Dear S'onnie,
We know each other a long time. I think of you each holiday season because of what you've shared.

David said...

Hi Dr. Deb and community,

I stumbled upon this blog for the first time today and really like what I see so far. The holiday season - and more broadly the cold gloomy season - can be a dreaded time for many of us. I personally have survived 2 bouts of severe depression, both of which precipitated during the winter.

I feel I should introduce myself but don't know where the proper place to do it would be. I am a student on leave of absence from the University of Chicago. I left to battle severe depression. After successfully overcoming my depression (LONG process), I am now writing a book and starting a social venture (along w/3 students at Olin College of Engineering) to help smart driven college students suffering from depression - the "motivated depressed" - overcome their depression.

To this end, I've started my own blog (and invested half of my life savings to purchase the domain name). It's at


I think it is a very unique approach to a depression blog, and will be a strong positive force in the world! Please check it out! If you like it, help spread the word!

Best of luck to all of you!

Your friend,

anitagwheeler said...

Positive thinking is a must even at tough times. One way to do this is by being grateful with what we have and try to focus being optimistic so that good energy will arise.

Anonymous said...

This is a very real condition and sends many in the direction of alcohol or drug abuse as a means of easing anxiety.

Wanda's Wings said...

Holidays are a rough time for me.

Barbara aka Layla said...

Have I told you lately that I love your blog? If not, I do.

My social anxiety doesn't even kick in any more because no one bothers inviting me anyplace any more knowing I won't show up. That sounds sad, but its a huge relief. I have other things to worry about these days.

I wish you were local so you could work with my son. I am afraid for his life. :(

Xmichra said...

My husband gets like this for all functions, not just x-mas. It's pretty ironic that during x-mas, he is actually fine to deal with social gatherings. Must be something about the season that relaxes him.

jumpinginpuddles said...

this christmas just like last year, that we have got togetehr with a friend and we open our home up to people whoswe worlds cant allow family in it for whatever reason. This allows us who also cant have family near them to mix with others who also would be spending xmas alone.

Just yesterday we had lunch with some of those coming who had anxiety disorders so that they didnt feel ike they were coming to somewhere they didnt know.

Like i said to someone yesterday who was saying she was scared i said you know what so am i. I have over thirty people coming for lunch some of who i dont know but what i do know is that it is worth it because like last year no one wanted to leave because xmas for us isnt about family itts about community.

wolfbaby said...

it's hard being around so many people so much of the time

blogbehave said...

And then there's the self-medication route that so many choose, alcohol. It's so important to get professional help instead of allowing anxiety to drive alcohol abuse.