Why Does Group Therapy for Depression Work?

Why Does Group Therapy for Depression Work?

Depression is often a lonely battle. It can feel as if no one understands what you are going through. However, it may help to know that nearly 4.7% of adults over the age of 18 struggle with regular feelings of depression. Taking that number even further, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that approximately 280 million people have depression.  Although you may feel alone, these statistics can help you to understand that you are truly not alone in what you are experiencing.

Unfortunately, depression perpetuates feelings of isolation, loneliness, and vulnerability. But contrary to what you may think, you do not have to eagerly begin individualized treatment or start medication if you want to experience relief from depressive symptoms. Some people may experience effective relief slowly as they increase their participation in group therapy groups.

You Are Not Alone

Depression is often a debilitating condition. Typically, individuals who struggle with depression have no desire to engage in social situations. In fact, that’s the irony of depression. Not only did isolation and loneliness likely contribute to the development of depression, but those feelings are what continue to worsen and perpetuate the symptoms of depression itself. 

Although it may seem like a far-fetched theory, group therapy may provide a promising outlet for individuals who are struggling with chronic feelings of loneliness. Group therapy allows you to see that you are not the only one dealing with it. The group is a team of peers that are all working through the same issue – in this case, depression. While everyone may have varying symptoms and causes of their depression, the group as a whole is still cohesively struggling with depression. Being in a room with others that understand exactly what you are struggling with and experiencing can cause you to acknowledge that you truly are not alone. 

As everyone shares their story, you will notice parts of your story in their story. You will see that your isolation is more than a choice; rather, it’s an effect of dysregulated emotions caused by depression. Once you recognize that being a part of group therapy can provide you with a vital place to be yourself, you will feel empowered. Being part of a group is empowering.

The Value of Social Support

Group therapy allows you to build a support structure for your healing and recovery. Social support is a key component that fosters treatment entry and treatment engagement and also helps to prevent relapse. With that, social support is necessary as it helps you to feel a part of something bigger than yourself. 

Humans are tribal animals. We need other people around us and people who understand us. Group therapy allows you to feel that and flourish because of it. That isn’t to say that group therapy is all sunshine from the get-go. It can be overwhelming to consider speaking about your troubles, traumas, and struggles with a group of complete strangers. You may even fear about passing your struggles on to others in the group. 

However, you have to understand those good things take time. Throughout your first several group therapy sessions, the professional that is leading the group will work to build trust and rapport. It can help to know that all other participants likely have the same hesitations and concerns as you. But more than anything, they are willing to put in the work and build the trust that is necessary to create a positive recovery atmosphere.

The Value of Perspective

It is valuable to remember that everyone shares their stories from their own unique perspectives. As you listen to other people share their stories, you will have your own subjective thoughts and opinions about how they share their stories. You may even notice details in other people’s stories that you did not consider mentioning as a part of your own. 

There will come a point when you’ll trust and respect the group enough that you will feel motivated to share your story and your struggles. Some people may feel comfortable sharing right from the start, while others may take a long time to get there and feel comfortable opening up. There is no pressure that you must share right from the beginning. Share once you feel comfortable. After all, therapy is about learning who you are and what you need. 

Once you are able to share your story, you will likely feel a release of stress and angst that built up from the anticipation of sharing. As a result, you may want to encourage others to feel confident enough to share theirs. You can empower others to do so by actively listening as people share their stories and providing encouragement and sentiment when necessary. 

Group therapy may be one of the most important treatment components for your recovery because we have an inherent human need to feel listened to, understood, and accepted. A huge part of your recovery success is determined by your self-esteem and self-worth. As you learn to accept yourself for your past and work to accept the person you are becoming, you can trust that other participants in your group therapy group are willing to do the same. They will accept you, and you will, in time, learn to accept yourself. 

The symptoms associated with depression are often debilitating. One of the biggest concerns for individuals who struggle with depression is increased isolation and loneliness, which can perpetuate depressive symptoms. Fortunately, there are many therapeutic interventions and services available that can help combat these symptoms. In addition to individual therapy and medication, group therapy is particularly valuable for treating depression. SoCal Mental Health understands this, which is why we incorporate group therapy groups into individualized treatment plans. We recognize that social support is essential for fostering long-lasting recovery from a wide range of mental health disorders and substance use disorders. We can create a treatment plan for those who are struggling with depression based on the individual’s unique needs and goals for treatment and recovery. To learn more about how we can aid in your recovery, or for more about our treatment programs, call us today at (949) 502-2041.

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