Benefits of Support Groups

Benefits of Support Groups

Support groups, either in person or virtual, can make many positive effects on individuals with medical conditions or those who have other stressful events going on in their lives. Managing a chronic health condition is definitely a cause to seek support from others. Support groups can be very beneficial for your overall mental health in many ways.

Connection with others

An important benefit of support groups is that they provide you with a way to connect with other people who understand exactly what you are going through with the medical condition or stressful time in your life. Being in a support group helps to remind you that you are not alone in what you are facing. This can be so helpful. I know when I first became chronic everybody around me told me it was just because of stress and it would go away. Even when I finished school, the migraines did not just go away and I started looking for other people who were dealing with the same issue. Once I did meet other people who were trying to manage chronic migraine, I felt almost like my condition was validated in my own mind.

Access to information

One benefit of support groups is their ability to provide you with access to information about medications, treatment options, and can even assist you in finding a doctor. In these support groups you will find a number of individuals who have tried various medications or treatments. These people will be able to give you their personal opinion on what it was like being on the different medications or the experience of going through the different treatments. While this information can be very helpful, it is important to remember that everybody responds differently to medications and treatments; so there is no guarantee that your outcome will be the same as their outcome. Speaking with these individuals can give you an idea of what to expect as you go into trying the new medication or treatments. I have honestly posted in a support group about looking for a rheumatologist and stated what area I was located. The information I received in response lead to the rheumatologist that I still use today. I liked her so much I followed her when her practice moved farther away from my home.

Security

Another extremely important aspect of being in a support group is that it provides you with a place to speak openly about anything without feeling the need to fear judgement. With conditions such a chronic migraine, there is a large number of people whose friends, family, coworkers, and spouses simply do not understand what they are going through. These people can have a negative impact on someone’s mental health by telling them ‘it’s just a headache” or that they should be able to “push through it.” By being in a support group, you can vent your frustrations or express how bad you feel privately and securely. In groups that are in person, others are not allowed to discuss what is said in the group with outsiders. In the virtual world such as Facebook groups or other online pages, only other members can see what you discuss in your posts and other members are not allowed to share what you post with outsiders. I know that with the Facebook support groups we use as a part of the non-profit Chronic Migraine Awareness, we have strict rules on posts remaining in the group and not allowing others to use your page to access the group.

Advocacy

Additionally, support groups can help you learn about patient advocacy and empower you to become a better advocate for yourself and others. Other individuals who have experience in managing medications and doctor appointments tend to be very willing to give you tips and tricks. Some organizations also provide information sheets pertaining to topics such as things to discuss with your doctor or the importance of keeping a migraine diary/journal.

This is something I was extremely interested in myself. Not only did I learn ways to make sure I received the best care for myself, I have attempted to help other individuals get better care as well. I even use some to make sure my husband’s appointments are productive. In talking with basically strangers online I realized the desire I have to help other people. This is what motivated my work with the non-profit organization Chronic Migraine Awareness and fueled my desire to write articles for this site.

Have you utilized support groups during your journey with chronic migraine? If so, what did you take from being involved in support groups?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (11)
  • sugarlips1313
    2 years ago

    Support groups are very valuable, but I would issue this caution: Don’t let the support group become your whole focus. I have IIH as well & a few years ago, support groups were all I posted in, partly from feeling alone & dealing with back to back surgeries. Soon, all I talked about was my problems & others in my “circle” ‘s priblems. That wasn’t healthy, to only talk about the bad things happening & medical crisis became my ‘norm’. Then chronic migraine hit after thyroid cancer & having my thyroid removed. I retreated into myself & only have a handful of close friends (real & online) that I talk to these days. It’s kept my depression from spiraling out of control. That’s how I dealt with it, somebody else might have done the opposite… Either way, use support groups as help & support, but don’t let it be ALL you focus on.
    Much Love,
    ~Jenny

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    2 years ago

    Sugarlips1313 –
    That is definitely a very valid concern for individuals to consider and thank you for bringing it up because I failed to do so! It is definitely best to not hyper focus on anything in particular. As hard as chronic pain is to live with, we have to do our best to try to to not become overwhelmed, especially if it is from reading upsetting posts from others online.
    Amanda Workman (migraine.com Moderator & Contributor)

  • Dorothyofoz
    2 years ago

    I agree. I have utilized online support groups but would also like to meet with people face-to-face. I have not been able to find a local group in my area. What is the best way to find a local group?

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    2 years ago

    Dorthyofoz – I have not looked into in person support groups, for me time is an issue with trying to meet in person. But I can definitely try to do some research and try to locate local / in person support groups.
    i would try a google search for your area and chronic migraine to see if anything pulls up. You could also ask your doctors and pharmacy if they are aware of any groups.
    Amanda Workman (migraine.com Moderator & Contributor)

  • Janet
    2 years ago

    I’ve yet to find a support group. I would rather it not be online…computers…I don’t use…but my iPad I do…but I so desperately need people interaction even though I am chronic and seldom leave my house like most of you…I so isolated…I was confused by the article..I thought the article was talking about “outside ” support groups.. Places to go…my husband could drive me since I hardly do that anymore either….migraine has destroyed my life, relationships, friendships…I have nobody in my life who “goes” it except my daughter who also suffers from migraine 🙁

    Thank u
    Janet Jones

  • Dorothyofoz
    12 months ago

    I agree with you. I would prefer “in person” support. A regular monthly meeting? It could be a great way to get out of the house & a safe place to talk to others with similar problems.

  • Karen Rudd
    2 years ago

    Support groups are invaluable for all of us, but especially so for those of us who are essentially home bound. I am on disability for chronic intractable migraine and because I have a history of strokes, it is doubtful that I will ever drive again. The contact outside my home (and head) is essential to my sanity. I’m currently looking for a migraine/chronic pain online group if anyone has a suggestion?

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    2 years ago

    Karen
    Chronic Migraine Awareness also has a number of different support groups on Facebook as well. Most Facebook groups are private so you do not have to worry about others on your page seeing your posts! I hope you are able to find some you love.
    Amanda Workman (migraine.com Moderator & Contributor)

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi there Karen,
    Thanks for reaching out! Support can certainly play and be a vital role to maintain a healthy “mental” state. I thought I’d share an article on the top places to find support – https://migraine.com/blog/top-places-to-find-support/. Additionally, if you are active on Facebook, feel free to take a look at our page where you can connect with many others who are experiencing the same. Lastly, the author of this article, also recommended these two groups

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/MoveAgainstMigraine/

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/practicallychronic/?ref=group_browse_new

    I truly hope some of these recommendations will connect with you the right online support that you are looking for! Take good care, Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • Lori
    2 years ago

    I’m looking for an online group as well. I’d love a group where we can discuss not only our experience, but also our grief at losing the dreams we once had. I miss the “girl” I used to be, and I don’t know how to get over that. It seems this grief/disappointment is a large part of my comorbid depression.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi there Lori, I just wanted you to know that I responded to Karen Rudd with some suggestions (mentioned below) on ways to find online support. I hope that you too will find some of these recommendations useful! Please always feel free to reach out for support! Wishing you a gentle day. -Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

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