Home > Health Library > Support Groups and Social Support
Health problems like cancer or heart disease and mental health
problems like substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have an
emotional side. And the same is true for certain life events, like being a
parent or caring for someone who has a chronic illness. Your life changes. And you
may need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. You may need a ride to the
doctor or a night out. You need support.
Support takes many
forms. You can find support in seminars and groups led by professionals, in
groups of others who have the same problem, and in your relationships with
family and friends.
If you have a support network, you will not
feel as alone. You'll learn new ways to deal with your problem, and you may try
harder to overcome it. Social support can play an important role in recovery.
Self-help and support groups can be very helpful for some people.
These groups usually consist of people with similar problems who meet to give support, practical advice, and encouragement to the
people who participate in the group.
Self-help and support groups are different from counseling sessions.
These groups may last for only a few sessions or they may be ongoing.
Self-help and support groups:
Joining a self-help or support group does not take the place of
counseling. Some people who attend these groups also need to participate in
regular counseling sessions with a health professional.
Self-help or support groups are not for everyone. Some people feel
uncomfortable talking in a group. Attend a group meeting at least three times
before you choose not to go back. Then you can make a better decision about
whether taking part in a self-help or support group is good for you.
Here are some ways to find support groups.
Look for a support group that works for you. Ask yourself
if you prefer structure and would like a group leader, or if you'd like a less
formal group. Do you prefer face-to-face meetings, or do you feel more secure
in Internet chat rooms or forums?
Social support includes emotional
support such as love, trust, and understanding, as well as advice and concrete
help, such as help managing your time. Your family, friends, and community all
can do this. They can make you feel cared about and feel good about yourself,
and can give you hope.
You may get your social support from many
people. You may play sports with one group of people, go to movies with
another, and turn to family or friends to talk over problems.
can look for support from:
Ask yourself where you get your social support. You may
be able to forge a closer relationship with family members or friends. Maybe
you know someone who you'd like to know better. You can join a club, or find a
group of people with the same interests you have.
You may not have good
social support. You may avoid other people. This may be because:
If you can improve your social support, it can help you
deal with your condition. Here are some ways you can make your social support
Current as of:
January 9, 2013
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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