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The Value of Support When Coping with Depression and Anxiety

The Value of Support When Coping with Depression and Anxiety

The goal of a support group is to encourage people living with mood disorders

Depression and anxiety can be debilitating disorders that leave people socially isolated and searching for relief in all the wrong places. A person struggling with clinical depression or an anxiety disorder will often not be understood by friends and family who are unaware of her condition. Friends and family may avoid the person and that coupled with the person’s own desire to avoid going out in public often leaves her feeling isolated and alone. This isolation can lead to the development of poor coping mechanisms in the form of substance abuse, overeating and other unhealthy habits.

Being supported through the onset of depression or anxiety can not only help the person avoid the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms, but also help her to better manage her overall condition. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) 1 explains how joining different support groups can help people struggling with depression and anxiety. Support groups are not a proper replacement for professional treatment but they can be a vital addition. DBSA explains some of the different reasons that a support group can benefit a person struggling with a mood disorder. Support groups are peer-led and can provide people the opportunity to share experiences and receive advice on how to better cope with their disorders. Support groups also simply provide a person the opportunity to fight isolation and avoid negative coping strategies by meeting with peers experiencing similar struggles.

The goal of a support group is to encourage people living with mood disorders and to help them find healthier coping strategies that have already worked for others. Attending a support group can also connect people with other support resources such as online forums, professionals, and recreational based groups. The real value of attending a local support group is the chance to re-connect with people with the understanding of the issue at hand. People thrive off of social acceptance and positive interaction that can be obtained through support groups. Individuals struggling with mood disorders can attend a support group and be accepted for who they are. This type of mutually beneficial relationship with other people can help reduce depressive symptoms and provide a platform for being encouraged and motivated to follow treatment plans.

Being Coached Through Anxiety and Depression

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) 2 explains how coaching can be a helpful tool of support for people struggling with mood disorders. Coaching is simply a form of support where people can receive support in person, over the phone, or online from a coach who offers encouragement and advice on how to effectively cope with mood disorders. Coaching is mainly beneficial for those who do not struggle with a debilitating mood disorder as a means of ongoing mood management. A coach can supplement but not replace professional mental health treatment for mood disorders. A coach can help people experience fewer or less frequent symptoms from their mood disorder by helping them engage in beneficial activities such as regular exercise. A coach can be trained in a variety of different areas that can help people struggling with mood disorder to reach certain goals and milestone in their lives. A coach may be an expert at helping people maneuver through their mood disorder to close business deals, make smart financial decisions for the future, or to simply lose weight.

Help Guide 3 suggests that cultivating supportive relationships is one of the first steps to decreasing depressive symptoms. Depression causes people to naturally avoid reaching out for help and yet receiving support from friends, family, and professionals is essential to overcoming it. Just as remaining isolated and alone can make depression even worse, maintaining supportive relationships can make depressed people feel better. Starting with loving family members and then moving on to trusted friends for support is a way to become comfortable with being supported. Soon, seeking out new friendships and supportive people through support groups or just in social settings will seem easier. The more support sources a person builds the easier it can be to overcome depression. Help Guide gives 10 helpful tips for gaining comfort in asking others for support and they include the following:

  • Share personal feelings with one person
  • Help someone else through volunteering
  • Go out for coffee with a friend
  • Ask someone to check in on a daily basis
  • Go to a social gathering with a friend
  • Catch up with an old friend
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Implement a weekly dinner date with a friend
  • Join a gym or club to meet new people
  • Share personal feelings with trusted coach or employer

Reaching out for help for depression and anxiety disorders can be difficult but it is one of the most beneficial ways to fast track recovery.

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1”What They Do,” Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_what_they_do, (cited November 1, 2015).

2 “Coaching,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, http://www.adaa.org/finding-help/coaching, (cited November 1, 2015).

3 Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., “Dealing with Depression,” Help Guide, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression.htm#resources, (October, 2015).