Trying to live a normal life while suffering from a chronic illness such as depression can be overwhelming at time. There are as many treatments for depression as there are types of depression and which one will be helpful depends greatly on the individual affected. One thing that experts agree on is that it is crucial to have help and support when dealing with depression. Whether it is a spouse, a therapist, or a support group, having caring individuals who understand what you are going through is an important step toward overcoming depression. For many people however, there is no one that they feel comfortable talking to. That is where the internet can become more than a useful tool, it can become a lifeline.
In the past, the only alternative to traditional support groups (led by mental health professionals) that offered self-help support were peer groups. While these types of support groups are a godsend to some, there are often barriers that keep others from participating. The barrier may be a physical issue, such as a medical condition, lack of transportation, or even a work schedule, or an emotional one such as fear of being seen attending the meeting. In the case of depression, it may simply be that the individual can’t summon the energy to consistently attend the meetings.
Not only do internet support groups make all of those problems irrelevant, they break down other barriers as well. For a vast number of people, talking face to face with someone about extremely personal issues is a terrifying thought. Internet support groups allow you to talk about your feelings in a somewhat anonymous way. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of online support groups is the fact that you can access them at nearly any hour of the day or night. There are times when just having someone to talk to can make all the difference in the world, but if that happens at 3 a.m. the choices are often limited.
While online support groups may not work for everyone, they can play a large role in letting someone suffering from depression know that they are not alone. When circumstances wont’ allow them to attend formal or peer group therapy, the internet can become a way for them to reach out, be heard, and get help.