Over 50 million Americans struggle with mental health concerns. As many as 1 in 5 adults in America have a diagnosable mental illness. Chances are, you know someone who struggles with a mental health problem, or perhaps you yourself do.
If so, it’s important to remember that no one is an island. We all need a support system. However, if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, interacting with friends and family might feel overwhelming sometimes.
Though it can be tempting to isolate, it is not always the best choice for our physical and mental health. So why is a social support system so important when mental health troubles arise?
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of having a strong social support network for mental health.
Why We Need a Support System
Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. As humans, we’re designed to thrive when we work together. Studies have shown that when we become isolated, our stress levels increase, and our mental health may deteriorate.
Being part of a social group is in our nature. From birth onwards, we form social groups and reap many positive benefits from them. Support systems help us to survive, but also just make life more enjoyable. As well as making life more enjoyable, our social system helps our brains. A support system can help us to stay healthy for longer and encourage us to keep up with healthy habits. That’s why we’re more successful when we have a gym buddy, rather than going it alone!
Social Groups and Mental Health
A support system is a group of people who provide you with emotional support and practical help. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, a strong support network is imperative for psychological health.
Often, our support system includes family members. We may have immediate family members who live in the same home or perhaps even extended family. Our friends are also part of our support system. This could even include coworkers with who we have developed a bond or those that we meet through social or religious groups. Health professionals, such as doctors and psychiatrists, can also form part of our support system because they play a part in monitoring your mental and physical health and well-being. Engaging with a support system is one of the many coping strategies that can be used when tackling psychological distress.
How Our Support System Can Help Us
Having a support system is about more than just having people physically around us. It is beneficial to have people that know us, care for us, and understand what we’re going through. Here are some ways that a support system can help to alleviate mental stress:
Encouragement and Commendation
One way that our social group can help us is by providing specific encouragement and commendation. Our friends and family can’t necessarily solve our problems. But what they can do is lend a listening ear or offer a different perspective. People who care about us want to see us exhibiting healthy behaviors, and it’s important to surround ourselves with people who have a positive influence on us. When feeling discouraged, those who love us may remind us of how much progress we’ve made. People who know us well are in a unique position. They can see the challenges we face and the efforts we make each day. Knowing that others are supporting us gives us an incentive to keep going.
Provides Another Perspective
Many people with depression and anxiety battle negative patterns of thinking or intrusive thoughts. Isolation leads to vulnerability. It is easy to spiral into unhealthy thought patterns without anyone to challenge it. This is where social interactions with our support system can help. Close friends and family can give us another way of looking at things, and point out factors that we haven’t considered. This can empower you to deal with your negative thoughts and help to improve your feelings of self-worth.
Distracts You — In a Good Way!
When we’re isolated, it’s easy to neglect healthy habits. When social interactions form part of your day, they can help to keep you on track. You might consider joining a walking group or an exercise class for your physical and emotional well-being.
Picking up a phone and calling a friend can help to distract you from negative thoughts. Even better, do something physically active together, like going for a walk or practicing yoga!
Healthy Coping Skills
Healthy coping skills include emotion-based skills and problem-focused skills.
Problem-based coping is helpful when you need to change your situation in order to solve a problem. This could be by removing a stressful situation or person from your life. For example, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, your stress and anxiety may be best resolved by terminating the relationship (as opposed to finding a way to self-soothe and work through it). This is an example of how having the wrong people in our support group can negatively impact us.
Emotion-based coping is most helpful for taking care of your feelings when you don’t want to make a big change or when things are out of your control. For example, if you are suffering through grief or loss after a loved one has passed away, it’s important to find a healthy way to process your feelings since you cannot change the circumstances.
Our support system can be extremely helpful when it comes to coping skills. When something is too much for us to handle and we feel overwhelmed, we can turn to our support system and asking for specific help. This may even mean seeking professional help. At times, it might be someone from our support group who makes the suggestion. If your loved ones are suggesting that you seek help, try not to be defensive because they likely have your best interest in mind.
Engaging With Professional Support
A professional support system can take many forms.
For people struggling with depression, their first port of call may be a psychiatrist. They may take them through a course of talking therapy. They may also prescribe medication.
If this first line of treatment does not provide relief, there are other options. One of these is TMS- short for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy, which is another option available to help people who are coping with ongoing depression.
At first, we may be reluctant to accept help from professionals. However, it is important to see them as an extension of your support system. They form part of the chorus of people who care about your well-being. They are cheering you on and are there to help you. With their support, along with your social support system, you are not fighting the battle alone.
Your Support System Is Key to Good Mental Health
Strong family relationships, good friends, and caring professionals – they all form a crucial support system. You don’t have to go it alone. There are people who care about you and want the very best for you.
Is your support system telling you that it’s time to seek some extra medical help? Have therapy, medication, and self-help not brought relief?
Talk to your doctor about whether TMS therapy is right for you. Read our customer testimonials to hear how TMS has helped them to lead happier lives.
Our treatments are FDA-approved, and TMS therapy treatments have helped many improve their depression and anxiety symptoms. Contact the caring team at TMS Therapy Global Network.