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.

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.    

Recent Posts in Open Gently

You Can Change—People Do It All the Time

Ask yourself if you know anyone who has changed over the years. I bet you do.

More Special Ed Kids Are Diagnosed as Autistic

There's probably not an autism epidemic—we just understand it better now.

Nature Calms the Mind—Even in Photos

The benefit may be greatest for worriers.

Spanking Makes Kids More Aggressive

Try a low, slow, icy voice instead.

Are Your Kids Using Pot to Beat Anxiety?

Your daughter may be smoking to relieve social anxiety, PMS, or cramps.

Will Plastic Surgery Make You Feel Better?

Maybe, but your hefty thighs are more noticeable to you than anyone else.