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  • Did you know...learning about support groups can be helpful for your health?

    Editor November 14th, 2024

    When you are dealing with a health crisis or looking to learn more about a disease, support groups can be a good source of encouragement and information.

    Support can come in many different forms. Your friends or family members can be great sources of support by talking with you, offering comfort, helping you find information or simply helping you relax. Support groups can add to the encouragement you may already be getting from friends and family, or can be helpful when friends or family cannot be or are not helpful to you. Sometimes, support groups can even help friends or family members learn how to be more supportive of you.

    What are support groups?

    Support groups are made up of people who come together to share information, experiences and offer encouragement about a specific topic. Support groups can help you deal with and learn about a complex illness (such as diabetes) or help you accomplish something you didn't believe you could do on your own like lose weight or quit smoking.

    Why might you join a support group?

    To get information

    For example, if you were recently diagnosed with a particular disease and want to learn more about it, support groups can be helpful. Patients in the support group can share the information they learned from their doctors or direct you to where to find more information.

    To deal with stress or help to solve problems

    Support groups can offer some relief if you are having a hard time dealing with a health issue or if you need motivation to start a new exercise routine or to eat healthy foods. Talking to people who are in similar situations can give you comfort in knowing that others are dealing with the same issues as you and may help you figure out different ways to deal with the issues.

    To belong to a community

    Sometimes a support group is helpful to simply talk to people with whom you share common goals or issues. If you feel that no one understands your situation, a support group might give you peace of mind.

    What can I expect at a support group?

    There are many different kinds of support groups and many different ways support groups operate. Some groups meet in person, while others use an online discussion. Some support groups are led by people who share the problem (such as heart disease) or issue (such as weight loss), while others are led by a health care professional such as a social worker. Some support groups are small, while others are large.

    Deciding on a support group

    If you think you want to join a support group, here are some things to think about when making your decision:
    What topic or issue are you are interested in?

    • Do you prefer to join a group led by people who are like you, or one led by a professional?
    • Do you prefer a small or a large group?
    • Can you join at any time or are there ‘rules' of membership?
    • Does the support group location and/or meeting time work for you?
    • What do you hope to gain from the support group?
    • What do you think you can contribute?

    Where to go

    For suggestions on a few places to start looking for a support group, click here.

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