There are some positive effects of self-help groups that have been demonstrated in depression and other diseases. These make them a good support tool for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Self-help groups offer low-threshold access for those affected, i.e. no special requirements or tests are required in order to participate. Self-help groups are characterized primarily by the mutual exchange of experiences; talking to others about your own illness and how to deal with it is the focus. This is often a new experience for the participants and can take place in a protected setting. The groups can either be guided or unguided; they can therefore be carried out with or without specialist staff. If there is specialist staff, specialist information is often discussed, but the evaluation of the respective problems of the participants is mainly done by the participants themselves – hence the name “self-help”. This clearly distinguishes this group work from group therapy. However, there is no need to worry about confidentiality and professionalism; there are always moderators who make sure that the boundaries between the participants are respected and due to the involvement of each individual, the participants often experience an enormous empathy and help that is otherwise rather difficult to get.

Participants in self-help groups particularly value the fact that they are free from the feeling of being alone with their illness; they can get to know other affected people, exchange ideas, gain experience in dealing with their illness, receive specialist information and help – and give it themselves. The self-esteem and self-confidence of the participants can be significantly increased. They increasingly get the feeling that they can deal better with the situation and are no longer overwhelmed by it. Feelings of helplessness are reduced.

These positive changes increase in the course of time; the more frequently and regularly participants attend their group, the better the way they deal with the disease, the more cheerful and less isolated, the more self-confident, the more influential the participants feel. This is especially the case for long-term participants who show an increased resistance to stress and better composure. In fact, self-help groups can make a similarly important contribution to well-being as that of family or partners.

Despite all the positive support that a self-help group can offer, it is important to know that they are not an alternative to medical treatment. They are much more suitable, as is psychoeducation, as an effective tool for the mature patient to deal more successfully with his illness.

If you don’t feel like talking about your personal business with others or you want to stay anonymous, but still exchange ideas, there is also the option of our edupression self-help program. We do not only offer you a forum to exchange your experience with others but also a huge, in-depth-journey into the science of depression and how to overcome it.

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