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Stress, anxiety and depression

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Depression support groups

Depression can make you feel isolated. It can be helpful to meet with other people who understand what it's like. This is sometimes called 'peer support'.

Self-help groups allow people with depression to provide as well as receive help.

"Self-help groups can be a fun and uplifting way to make new friends and to share support and ideas through illness and recovery," says Laura Sacha, communications co-ordinator for Depression Alliance. "People in these groups support one another, which can help your self-confidence."

How to find depression support groups

Visit the Depression Alliance website for more information about self-help support groups. Depression Alliance can help you set up a group if there isn't one in your area.

You can also visit the Mind website for information about support groups in your area.

If you are carer and affected by depression, ring the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 to find out how to meet other carers.

Or you can ask your GP or your local psychological therapies team about depression support groups in your area.

What happens at a support group?

Sitting and talking isn't the only thing that happens at meetings. Lots of groups organise social events and arrange special activities to help boost your mood and improve your wellbeing.

"Going to a group for the first time can be daunting, but you can be sure of a warm welcome, and people will understand how hard it can be to take that first step," says Laura Sacha.

See how connecting with other people helps mental wellbeing.

Other types of depression support

Attending a group and talking to other people who have experienced depression is not for everyone. There are other kinds of peer support that can help you cope with depression.

Online forums for depression

You can visit online forums where you can read about other people's experiences, write about your own, and respond to other postings. Visit the Depression Alliance or Sane websites.

Big White Wall is an online service for people who have common, distressing mental health problems. Through social networking a community of people are supported by trained "wall guides", so they can manage their own mental health.

Online forums are not for everyone. Depression UK has a penfriend scheme for members. This is especially useful for people who don't have internet access or who prefer letters and postcards to email.

Pursuing your interests

Being with other people who share your interests can also help you feel better. You can use the internet or local newspapers to look up classes or activities in your area that you might enjoy.

Volunteering

Lots of people experience feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem when they're depressed. Helping other people by doing voluntary work is one good way of feeling useful and valued. There are all sorts of ways you can volunteer.

Time banks are an innovative way of volunteering your time and skills. You offer your skills in return for credits, which you can then use to buy someone else's services.

For example, you could offer three hours of gardening and in exchange receive a one-hour language lesson and a two-hour beauty treatment from other members.

Visit the Timebanking UK website to find out what's available in your area.

More help for depression

There are lots of treatment options for depression, including talking therapies, antidepressants and self-help of various kinds.

If you've been feeling down for more than two weeks, visit your GP to discuss your symptoms.

Moodzone: Low mood and depression

Dr Chris Williams explains what you can do to help yourself cope with low mood and depression. This podcast is one of an eight-part series for Moodzone.

Media last reviewed: 02/03/2015

Next review due: 02/03/2017

Page last reviewed: 03/01/2016

Next review due: 03/01/2018

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