Getting Support When You Have a Chronic Condition
Support has many forms. It may be emotional support, like having someone to talk to and make you feel heard. Or it could be something more concrete, like advice, ride sharing, or help with grocery shopping. Any kind of support can help you feel more connected and capable of living well with your condition.
How can you get support when you have a chronic condition?
Support has a big impact on your health and your condition, your emotions, and how you experience life. Support doesn't always look the same for different people or different conditions. And what you need may change over time.
Here are some ways you can seek support when you have a chronic condition.
- Work with your health care team.
They can help you make decisions about treatments that are right for you. They can help you understand your condition—and how to manage it—over time.
- Get help from a counselor.
A trusted counselor can help you adjust to the changes your condition has on your life.
- Reach out to others.
Ask for what you need from coworkers, neighbors, friends, family, and others in your community. Maybe someone could deliver groceries or go with you to appointments. Or you could share a meal together.
- Connect with others who have the same health condition.
Look for a support group. You may find some comfort in knowing others who have similar experiences. The group can help you, and you can feel good about helping them too. It's a give and take.
- Strengthen your social support.
Social support can come from your local community, others who have the same health condition, coworkers, spiritual or religious groups, friends, and family. Having strong social support can help you manage your condition. Here are some ways to do it:
- Offer others support too. You count on others for support, and they also count on you. When you can, offer what you can give back.
- Find others with common interests. Choose activities that bring you comfort and joy.
- Show your gratitude. Say "thank you" to the people in your life by writing them a note or sharing something that's special to you.
- Focus on listening. Find people who will listen to you without judgment. And try to be a good listener for them.
What are the different types of support groups?
Support groups—where you meet and talk to people who are coping with the same problems you are—can be a great source of comfort and advice. And there are many different types of support groups. You can find support for many things, including long-term health conditions, quitting smoking, stress, and mental health conditions.
Some groups focus on education. They may be led by a professional, such as a teacher or doctor who shares information about the problem. Other groups provide support from people who are going through the same things you are. They're called peer groups.
In a peer group, you'll see that you're not alone. Others have similar feelings and challenges. Group members can give you support, advice, and encouragement—and you can give those things back to them. You can see what's working for others and then decide if it might work for you too.
How can you find a support group?
Finding a support group that works for you may take time. There are many options. Some groups have a group leader who helps lead discussions or shares information. Others are less formal. Some meet in person, while others meet online.
Try using these resources to help you find the best support group for you.
- Your doctor, health care team, or counselor.
- People with the same health concern.
- Your local church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious group.
- A city, state, or national group that provides support for your health concern. Check your local library or community center for a list of these groups. Or look for information online.
- Your local community, friends, and family.