WHEN Ginny Young's nephew committed suicide years ago, she knew she had to do something to help others.
The 27-year-old had suffered from panic attacks and anxiety, and there was a history of such problems in the family, Young said.
But doctors had not found the correct dose of medication to help him, and in his despair, the young man killed himself.
"We wanted to reach out and help other people," said Young, adding that she and her niece placed personal ads in local newspapers advertising a self-help support group for individuals with this disorder.
A few people met on Young's back porch to discuss their problems, and the Westminster Panic and Anxiety Self-Help Support Group was born.
Since then, the group -- which celebrated its ninth anniversary last month -- has helped countless people deal with a disorder that wasn't given a specific name until 20 years ago.
"Almost all of them, without a doubt, have said how helpful the group has been," said Young, who is retired from working for nine years at Granite House, an outpatient mental health and drug treatment program in Westminster.
Group members, who meet about once a month in Young's home, receive literature about coping with the problem, hear about new advances in treatment and take time to discuss their problems or concerns.
Occasionally, the meetings feature a guest speaker or a field trip to a treatment center in the area.
"There are those who share things and others that just sit through the meeting," Young said, noting that self-help groups are just one part of a treatment plan that often includes medication and psychotherapy. "It just depends on that person's need for now."
Confidentiality is strictly observed at all meetings, and members are introduced by only their first names.
"People need to feel free to open up" within a meeting, Young said. She cautions members that they might not want to be as open with co-workers and other community members.
"Unfortunately, it still has a stigma," she said. "You have to think about how you're going to feel comfortable around that person again."
Within the confines of Young's home, anything is open for discussion.
"So many people have no idea what's wrong with them," she said. "The main idea is to give them support and knowledge."
WMC Jazz Night
Enjoy an evening of mellow music at Western Maryland College's Jazz Night at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Decker College Center Forum on the college campus in Westminster.
Various Western Maryland College jazz ensembles will play in this free performance.
Information: Josh Selzer at 410-857-2599.
Food and flowers
Join residents of Carroll Lutheran Village for their Flower Mart and Pancake Breakfast from 7 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. Saturday at 205 St. Mark Way in Westminster.
Spring flowers, crafts, baked goods and other food will be for sale at the retirement community.
Information: 410-848-0900 or 410-756-65143.
Amy L. Miller's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.