4 Benefits Of Depression Group Therapy
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the most effective ways to combat depression is to seek out emotional support from others who also live with depression. We often turn to friends and family when we need support, but although they may mean well, friends and family who are not familiar with depression may not know the best ways to help.
Also, they may simply be unable to relate to what you are going through. Depression groups are a great solution to get the support you need from people who know what depression is like and know how to give the best support.
There are two main types of depression groups: support groups and group therapy. Depression groups of all types have a lot of the same benefits and advantages for people struggling with depression. There are also depression groups for people who are supporting someone else that has depression.
How Depression Groups Work
Many depression support groups are not led by a professional. Instead, they are simply a group of individuals who have or are experiencing depression. It is a safe place to discuss your thoughts and feelings and to hear stories from others that may be able to benefit you and help you feel less isolated.
Some depression groups are run by a professional. These groups may be more like group therapy, where you will gain some special insight and coping skills while also getting support and making connections with other patients. Depression support groups are usually free and offered throughout the community or in someone's home. Depression groups led by a psychotherapist usually have a cost, but they may sometimes be covered by health insurance.
How To Make Depression Groups Work For You
Remember that participation is mandatory, and there is no expected level of interaction, so in the beginning, it may be better to simply listen. Or you may need to try a couple of different groups before you find a good fit.
It's helpful to ask plenty of questions. If your depression group is led by professional therapists, they will be able to answer any questions you may have. If your depression groups are not led by a professional, you will still likely be able to get answers from others in the group who have experienced something similar.
When you find a group that you feel comfortable in, you may find that you get more out of the experience by actively participating. The point is to establish bonds of trust in a non-judgmental environment.
It’s important to remember that support groups aren’t typically an adequate replacement for regular sessions with a therapist. If the support group isn’t led by your therapist, let them know you’re meeting with a group. They can help guide you through and monitor your experience. If group therapy doesn’t seem to be a good fit, your therapist can help you explore other therapy options.
4 Ways A Depression Group Might Help You
Experts say that depression groups help keep patients motivated to follow their treatment plan- this is a particularly important feature for those experiencing depression. One common symptom of depression is a lack of motivation, and this can often extend to participation in treatment.
Also, if you find yourself questioning whether a particular treatment plan for depression is working for you, speaking to others who have experienced the same roadblocks can be very helpful. Learning about the experiences of others may give you some ideas to bring up with your mental healthcare professional.
Inspiration & Encouragement
Just as depression can rob us of our motivation, it can also make us feel hopeless and empty, as if we can’t succeed in treatment. When those feelings arise, a depression group can inspire you and give you the confidence you need to persevere. Beyond the support you may need to meet your goals, you can often find inspiration in the stories of others. Sometimes, hearing about other people’s small victories over depression can give you the hope you need to believe that you can achieve them, too.
Often depression groups contain a broad range of people in different stages of recovery from depression. Many support groups are led by people who have coped with depression their entire lives, and their experiences can be beneficial to others.
You can also learn a lot about depression itself and the different ways it can affect relationships. You may learn healthy coping skills, treatment options, and other information that you were previously unaware of. While everyone with depression needs to seek professional treatment, attending a helpful support group can supplement those one-on-one sessions with a therapist.
Depression can make you feel as though no one around you understands what you are going through. When you feel isolated or misunderstood, it can also worsen the other symptoms of depression. Having a group that understands the difficulties around coping with depression and can relate to your experiences can be very helpful.
Finding A Support Group In Your Area
To find support groups for mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, you might ask a medical professional to recommend a support group in your area, search the web, or use a support group finder tool such as those on the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) support group finder. Locate the DBSA support groups finder here: https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/chapters-and-support-groups/.
The Anxiety and Depression Association (ADAA) is another good resource for finding depression therapy groups. The ADAA is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and helping those who live with anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and co-occurring conditions (e.g., substance use disorders*). You can use their website to look for a support group here: https://adaa.org/find-help/support/support-groups.
*If you or someone you know lives with or shows signs of substance misuse or a substance use disorder, contact the substance abuse and mental health services administration hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Some support groups meet in person, but others may use online meeting tools (e.g., video chat platforms). If you have a preference between in-person or online meetings, this is something to consider. Websites such as the DBSA website provide additional resources, such as information about conditions like depression and Bipolar disorder. The DBSA also offers useful information on how to give support to someone who lives with a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder.
The first step to getting help with depression is to speak with a professional in a one-on-one setting. An expert can help accurately diagnose your depression and tailor a treatment plan to work with your unique needs, possibly including meetings with a depression group.
But just finding the energy to see a therapist can be difficult for some people experiencing depression. Commuting, scheduling appointments, and meeting face-to-face in a traditional setting are just a few of the hurdles that can seem insurmountable if you have trouble finding the motivation to simply get out of bed in the morning.
The rise in popularity of online therapy is a good solution to many of the barriers people face when seeking help. Online platforms like BetterHelp offer a convenient way to get treatment from a mental health professional that’s just as effective as in-person treatment, sometimes at a more affordable price.
With online therapy, you can speak with a therapist when it’s convenient for you from the comfort of your home.
If you think group therapy may be helpful for you, speak with a mental health professional online first. They can give expert advice on treatment options, guide you through the group therapy process, and put you on the path to feeling better.
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