To help you get through difficult times, consider joining a depression support group. There are two main types of depression support groups to consider: online groups and local groups where you meet with people in your area. The group may be led by a health professional or someone who has recovered from depression and has a desire to help others manage it.
Benefits of Joining Depression Support Groups
In a depression support group, you can relax and enjoy support from people who understand your struggles. Face-to-face groups typically stipulate complete confidentially so that anything you say at a group meeting "stays there." You have the freedom to express how you feel without fearing it will spread among your friends and family.
While support groups give you the chance to share your story and struggles with others, many also arrange for guest speakers to address specific aspects of depression, such as self-care. Another possible perk: Organized social events can be helpful if your social life has dwindled as a result of your depression.
Online groups operate on a slightly different principle. You will generally have a user name that keeps your true identity hidden from other users. This partial anonymity can also give you freedom to express your feelings in a more open way than you normally would to family and friends. Online groups may offer live chat sessions as well as forums where members can discuss issues and ask for advice.
Some online support groups have the advantage of being accessible 24 hours a day. They may also attract members from various countries meaning there is usually someone available to message you or chat at odd times of day or night.
Finding Acceptance with Depression Support Groups
In a support group setting, people generally accept you as you are. Instead of trying to force you to change, they will listen to your story and will then offer suggestions and support to help you through your problems. Discussions about medications and their effectiveness and referrals to various health professionals are also a part of the programs of some groups.
You might have to visit a couple of groups before finding one that suits you, and this is to be expected: Everyone has individual tastes and certain personalities interact better than others.
How to Find a Suitable Depression Support Group
There are a number of different ways you can find depression support groups. The first thing you need to do is decide whether you prefer the anonymity of an online group or would rather meet face to face with people who understand your struggles. You may decide to join both an online and an in-person group.
When looking for a group, ask your doctor for a recommendation. Mental Health organizations are another a good source. Gather as much information as you can about the depression support groups: find out when and where they meet and what the meetings involve. Ask whether they host social outings and events. With all the facts at hand, you will be able to make an informed decision about which group or groups may best suit your personal needs.
By: Debbie Roome
Aware- Helping to Defeat Depression. Aware Support Groups. http://www.aware.ie/help/literature/aware_support_groups/ Accessed June 19, 2011
Mayo Clinic. Depression. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/support-groups/MH00044 Accessed June 19, 2011
NHS. Depression Support Groups. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Depression/Pages/Depressionselfhelpgroups.aspx Accessed June 19, 2011