Low self-esteem, a feeling of perpetual sadness, tiredness, negative attitude, suicidal thoughts, tendency to procrastinate work, insomnia, and weight loss/gain, these are amongst the many symptoms which are experienced by those who suffer from depression. Although, there are medicines and drugs prescribed to treat this condition, yet, considering the fact that they can produce side effects, patients generally opt for therapy sessions.
Therapy for depression can either be individual or in a group. In individual therapy, a patient gets undivided attention from the therapist, in one to one sessions and thus, feels comfortable sharing personal information with the therapist, which can help tremendously in his treatment. Group therapy, on the other hand, can prepare a patient to handle his condition, by learning from the experiences of others who have been in similar circumstances before. Thus, it can be concluded that both the therapies can prove to be effective in treating depression.
Effective Group Therapy Activities for Treating Depression
In a group therapy session, a therapist has to come up with some innovative activities for women and men, which are fun, helpful and effective, all at once. Here is a list of such activities.
Research has shown that if people who are under some sort of depression start living a healthy life i.e. eat a balanced diet, sleep for seven to eight hours in the night and exercise everyday for at least half an hour, it contributes greatly to improve both their physical as well as mental health. This activity is planned to persuade the patients towards healthy living. Ask the group members to sit in a circle. Next, start a discussion on healthy living. Bring up points like what constitutes a balanced diet, how many hours of sleep is necessary everyday, for how long should a person exercise, etc. After the discussion on healthy living is over, ask each of the group members to pick up any of the healthy tips suggested by the others in the group and incorporate it in their lifestyle. From then on, after every session, ask the group members to pick a healthy habit. This will ensure that slowly and slowly, all the group members adopt healthy ways of living.
One of the most useful activities is to plan a meditation session. Start with asking all the group members to sit cross-legged on a floor mat. Next, ask them to close their eyes and focus on just one thing. If the group members have never meditated before, give them suggestions on the kind of things they can focus on. Any natural water body, such as a sea or a river, mountains, trees, chirping of birds – all these can have a calming effect on the brain. Otherwise, focusing on one’s own breathing, feeling how the air goes inside and fills up the body and then moves out, leaving it cleansed, is a form of meditation too. So, plan meditation sessions for the group, as they calm the mind and soothe the nerves, helping a person get rid of many of the depression symptoms.
For people who are under depression, trusting and getting close to someone is not easy. So, planning trust building activities, wherein they get a chance to “let go” and for a change depend on someone, is extremely important. Here is one such group therapy exercise. Start this activity by asking all the group members to stand in a circle, except for one, who will stand in the middle. The ones in the circle should stand very close and there should not be any space in between them. Next, the one in the middle has to close his eyes and make his body fall on others in the circle. He can fall in any direction, in the front, at the back or on the side. When he does this, he can’t move his feet. He has to completely let go and trust the others in the group to catch him from falling.
Sharing one’s experiences related to depression, with each other, can give comfort to everyone in the group. By hearing other people’s stories on how they coped with depression, the others in the group can take a few tips and learn from them. Listening to the stories and experiences of others also provides a kind of relief to the group members as they can identify with them. Moreover, when a group member shares his experiences with others, his fellow group members listen to him, pay attention and thus, in a way support him. The group members encourage one another to feel good about themselves too, during such sessions. So, such group sessions can really help a person cope with stress in his life.
Finally, having fun together, in a group, can prove to be very helpful in dealing with depression. So, plan some fun group activities, such as singing together, painting, and playing group sports like soccer and basketball. This will relax and rejuvenate the group members and thus, help them in getting over their depression.
Whether it is group therapy activities for children or adults, ensuring that each and every member participates, is extremely important. Besides planning activities, such as the ones mentioned above, group therapy sessions should be utilized by the therapist to educate the patients on the various treatment options available as well as any new findings in the medical field about depression.