First and foremost, I think support groups, both online and offline, are great opportunities for individuals to connect with others who are going through similar life challenges. I think they’re a great way to help you realize you are not alone, and everyone needs that realization at some point in life.
I’ve recently become cognizant of my depression. Over the years, I’ve looked into various depression support groups on the Internet, but I’ve never felt motivated to join them. I’m just getting to the point where I’m open to talking about depression with others and how it makes me feel, but here’s the thing…as a person who has battled with depression for the majority of her lifetime, I don’t think depression support groups are a healthy option for achieving long-term results. I do, however, think offline depression groups have the potential to be more beneficial than online groups. Unfortunately, I think many depressed individuals seek out online support, because it’s fast and easy. Depression often accompanies the desire for isolation, so the Internet has become a “safe haven” for depressed people, so the need to leave home to interact with others no longer exists. Essentially, online communication fills the human being’s “need” to socialize.
In the time I’ve spent looking into online depression support groups, I have never felt these groups provide actual support to those who suffer with depression. If anything, they simply fuel depression, and they allow people to stay in their sad bubble. When I read posts by members of these support groups, it often triggers my depression, and I feel sad and lonely too.
That is the reason I try to keep my distance from depression support groups. I think the idea behind these support groups is in good nature, but the ultimate result is not promising. All of my long-term connections I’ve made through the Internet have been made with individuals who share similar interests, which I think is a much more effective way to find friends online (and in the real world). If the only interest you and your friends have is you are all depressed, then you probably aren’t helping each other.
One symptom of depression is the loss of interest in the hobbies you love, so it can be difficult to seek out interest-based groups online and offline when your life is affected by depression, which is the main reason many people seek out depression support groups. I think it’s okay to make use of these groups short term. However, if you realize you’re becoming wrapped up in the depression aspect of the group, and you’re still not feeling motivated to seek out interests-based groups, then it’s time to evaluate if the group is doing more harm than good.
Depression sucks, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s a BRIGHT light! I am grateful to have rediscovered many interests and to have uncovered many more over the past year. It’s been an uphill climb, but I’m getting better. Depression can be conquered.