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Depression often causes people to isolate themselves. Help yourself by reaching out to those who care about you.

Jody cancelled a shopping trip with her best friend last week. She hasn't returned her sister's phone calls cheap vidalista online. She's barely said a word all week to her closest co-worker.

Jody is in the grip of depression, which often causes people to withdraw from social contact. But cutting off the people who care about her is likely to make things worse.

Humans are social beings, and isolation can feed loneliness and despair. Spending time with friends can help reduce stress, which is often a factor in depression. Having a strong social support system can be an important part of the process of recovery.

How friends and family can help
Some of your close friends and family may already know about your depression. If not, help them learn about your condition. Your doctor might be able to provide materials they can read, or you can refer them to this Web site. Help them understand that:

  • Depression is an illness. It's not something you can snap out of, and no one can fix you.
  • It can be treated successfully, but treatment may take a while. Results are often slow and gradual.
  • Their support and encouragement is important to you.

Let trusted friends and family members know how they can help you. For example, they could:

  • Encourage you to take part in activities you enjoy when you are well, even when you don't much feel like it now.
  • Check in with you on a regular basis to see how you are doing. This might take the form of a weekly phone call or a shared meal.
  • Help you get regular exercise, which can be an important way to fight depression. They might agree to walk, run or bike with you.
  • Challenge negative thinking on your part and remind you that recovery is possible.
  • Learn to recognize behaviors or attitudes that may mean your mood is getting worse.
  • Be on call in a crisis. It's important to have at least one person you can contact whenever you feel especially bleak, even if it's the middle of the night.

Remember, though, that relationships must involve both give and take. Depression may cause a person to seem self-absorbed, so remind yourself to:

  • Be interested in your friend's life. Ask questions and listen. Offer help if it's needed.
  • Express your thanks for a friend's support. You might send flowers or a card, but a few heartfelt words and a hug could work, too.
  • Seek support from more than one person. You could exhaust a friend if you lean too heavily on that person.

Friends and family can play a vital but limited role in your recovery. They can't take the place of a therapist, and it's not fair to expect them to. It's up to you to get the treatment you need to get better.

The role of support groups
Many people with depression benefit from joining a depression support group. This can be especially important for people who lack other types of social support, but it can help anyone who is coping with depression.

A depression support group can:

  • Help you connect with other people who have had a similar experience
  • Motivate you to stick with your treatment plan
  • Help you learn more about yourself and get different perspectives on depression
  • Provide a place where you can be accepted and understood as you are
  • Help you remember that recovery is possible

To find a support group, check your local newspaper for meetings or call a hospital or mental health center. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance can help you locate a support group in your area. See their Web site at www.healthlinerx.org and click "Find support."

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