It’s time to change the way you see yourself.

Living with depression is a difficult struggle. Without sharing your feelings, your daily struggles and victories, you sometimes feel like you’re left without the fuel you need to get through the day.

When you surround yourself with other individuals, coping with varying degrees of depression but united through a common struggle, the results can transform the way you see yourself, your struggles and the hope waiting for you on the other side. Support groups allow you to be truly yourself among a group of individuals on a journey toward freedom.

Even though you may not be able to control whether or not you struggle with depression, you can absolutely change who you share that struggle with. And if getting the help you need means finding a support group close to you, understand that depression support groups offer many distinctive benefits. Through the help of a support group, you can change the way you see yourself, the way you see your struggles and the amount of fight you find within yourself on a daily basis.

1. Learn how depression affects yourself and others in different ways.

One of the most obvious benefits of a depression support group is that you can learn how depression affects both you and others. Perhaps depression affects you in many of the same ways as it affects other members of the depression support group. Perhaps they’ve seen depression manifest itself in ways that you have not.

Aside from the fact that a depression support group is a non-judgmental, supportive setting where you’re free to share thoughts and experiences, you’ll also find yourself learning more about your own struggles. The more you learn about depression, the more you can learn about ways to maintain productivity and positivity.

2. Express your emotions to people who understand them.

Start by looking for, and finding, a safe, supportive environment where you can express your thoughts and feelings without judgement. With the help of a depression support group, you’ve found a setting of individuals who both condone and understand your thoughts. Surround yourself with a group of individuals who resonate with your struggles, concerns and hopes, no matter where you find yourself mentally on a day-to-day basis.

Once you settle into the environment, you’ll feel more comfortable sharing those emotions with everyone else. Don’t worry if it takes time to acclimate to the support group, or if you still feel self-conscious talking about yourself after multiple sessions. You’ll find that soon enough, your concerns will give way to the full benefits of a depression support group environment, one characterized by a therapeutic, supportive experience without judgement.

3. Laugh.

Laughter is one of the most obvious signs of internal ease. Often a byproduct of chronic, or even temporary, depression is the fact that laughter can become a thing of the past. If you’re worried that depression is depriving you of the joy you once experienced, a depression support group can help. Whether it’s learning to laugh at our own struggles or insecurities, or simply the act of sharing common experiences, a group of like-minded individuals sharing joys and struggles often produces the laughter you’ve been looking to find in your own life. Don’t underestimate how important those small moments of laughter are in your own life. Even if it’s for seconds or a few minutes at a time, finding and retaining your ability to find amusement and joy in life’s small moments is so important.

4. Help someone else through a struggle you’ve experienced.

One of the more hidden benefits of a depression support group is the fact that you can help others through similar experiences you’ve had. Whether it’s navigating a low point, celebrating a high point or simply coping with depression on a daily basis, you have thoughts and experiences that are likely valuable for others in the support group. 

Teaching others is often a great way to further learn. The same concept applies when it comes to depression support groups. Through teaching others in the support group about positive coping mechanisms, depression-reducing practices and more, you’ll find that you learn more about what helps you (and others) flourish every day despite the struggles you experience.

5. Find self-empowerment through shared experience.

Even though willpower and empowerment provide fuel to flourish when you’re alone, they often come from shared experience. Taking the time to participate in a depression support group can actually provide you with the encouragement and the self-empowerment you need to take the first right step every day.

This benefit also works in reverse. If you’ve overcome a difficulty or an obstacle that another member of the depression support group is struggling with, you have a unique opportunity to help them through it. Just like others are the key to your own self-empowerment, you can prove the difference when it comes to someone else motivating themselves to fight for one more day.

The support you need is available right now

No matter the trials you may be experiencing or the difficulties you’re navigating through, support groups work to drive home one significant point: you are not alone. It’s a fact that’s increasingly easy to forget during life’s most difficult times, especially moments characterized by depression, anxiety or feelings of loneliness or isolation.

 If you’ve been alone with your struggles for even a single day, it’s still one day too long. Depression support groups provide a wonderful avenue to embrace shared difficulties and triumphs, express emotions in a supportive setting and learn more about depression itself. Find a depression support group around you today, and begin pursuing with others the life you know you can achieve.