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Support Groups and Social Support - Topic Overview

Social support

Social support includes emotional support such as love, trust, and understanding, as well as advice and concrete help, such as help managing your time. Your family, friends, and community all can do this. They can make you feel cared about and feel good about yourself, and can give you hope.

You may get your social support from many people. You may play sports with one group of people, go to movies with another, and turn to family or friends to talk over problems.

You can look for support from:

  • Your spouse or partner and your children.
  • Your parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and anyone who is like family to you.
  • Friends, coworkers, members of your religious and/or spiritual groups, neighbors, and classmates.
  • Support groups, consumer drop-in centers, and online support groups.
  • Doctors, therapists, nurses, and other professionals.

Ask yourself where you get your social support. You may be able to forge a closer relationship with family members or friends. Maybe you know someone who you'd like to know better. You can join a club, or find a group of people with the same interests you have.

Improving social support

You may not have good social support. You may avoid other people. This may be because:

  • You may feel ashamed of having your problem and not want to talk to anyone.
  • Your condition may make other people wary of you. For example, if you have PTSD and are often angry, people may avoid you.
  • You may feel too sad to want to talk to people.
  • You may have no family and few friends where you live.

If you can improve your social support, it can help you deal with your condition. Here are some ways you can make your social support stronger:

  • Know that social support is a two-way street. You count on your social network for support, but its members also count on you. Ask them about their families, jobs, and interests, and help them when you can.
  • Know your friends' limits. You don't have to see or call your friends every day. If you're going through a rough patch, ask friends if it's okay to contact them outside of the usual boundaries.
  • Don't always complain or talk about yourself. Know when it's time to stop talking and listen or to just enjoy your friend's company.
  • Be clear when communicating. Ask questions to be sure you know what people want. If you ask for something, be sure you make yourself understood. Listen to what your friends have to say, and don't judge them.
  • Know that good friends can be bad friends. If your buddy keeps you drinking when you shouldn't be, you may want to end the friendship. A social network lifts you up. It shouldn't drag you down.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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