Open Gently

Musings on the introspective life.

Join A Group to Fight the Blues

Not just loved ones--but feeling part of a club--can heal anxiety and depression

Feeling a strong connection to a group--rather than simply to individuals--can pull you out of the blues. Depressed people withdraw from family and friends and the last thing they want to do is meet new people and have to "pretend" to be okay. But some research suggests you'd do well to push yourself to join a congenial group--or invite a friend who is sinking under depression or anxiety.

Senior Fellow Alexander Haslam, lead author Tegan Cruwys and their colleagues at the University of Queensland conducted two studies of patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety. The patients either joined a community group with activities such as sewing, yoga, sports and art, or partook in group therapy at a psychiatric hospital.

Half of the patients who said they didn't identify strongly with the group were suffering the same level of symptoms after a month. But less than than a third of the people who did report a connection were still diagnosed as depression or anxious a month later.

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I wonder which way the causality ran: maybe feeling better made it easier to feel identified with the group. It still seems worth the effort, though it may feel heroic when you just want to lie in bed.    

 

 

 

Temma Ehrenfeld is a New York-based science writer, and former assistant editor at Newsweek.

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