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A support group is a gathering of people with similar concerns who meet to share ideas and experiences, get advice, and offer support to each other. You may join a support group for physical conditions or mental health issues. Currently, there are support groups for depression, anxiety, addiction, cancer, and many other life challenges.
Local support groups usually include up to ten members who meet on a set schedule. In some cases, you might look for a support group for one specific concern, like depression. However, some support groups contain members who are experiencing different issues but share a similar need for emotional support.
If you are thinking about joining a local support group, you may want to consider what kind of group will meet your needs. Support groups can help you:
- Reduce loneliness
- Improve your coping skills and develop new skills
- Express more of your thoughts and emotions
- Get advice on treatment and other options available to you
- Gain a deeper understanding of the issues you are facing
- Regain a sense of control in your life
- Receive encouragement and emotional support from people who are facing similar issues
- Get the help you need for free or a small fee
Support groups can be especially beneficial if your friends or family members do not seem to understand what you are going through. Having the chance to open up and speak with other people who share your concerns often helps relieve feelings of loneliness or distress.
Despite the potential benefits of support groups, they are not substitutes for professional counseling, group therapy, or individual therapy. While a support group may be led by a therapist, it is often led by person who is not trained in mental healthcare. As support groups are not a form of medical treatment, they are not covered by medical insurance.
- Support groups. (2016, February 24). WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-support-group#1
- Support groups: Make connections, get help. (2015, April 11). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/support-groups/art-20044655