The symptoms of Crohn's disease can be challenging. However, if you let Crohn's rule your life, you won’t experience all that you can do.
Finding a support group — a group of people who have Crohn's and understand what you are going through — is a great way to find the strength to face challenges and get on with your life.
You may have a very supportive spouse, friend, or family member, but they cannot know what it is like to have Crohn's disease. Only someone else who has had an accident in public, received the diagnosis, and experienced the pain will be able to understand what you mean when you explain your experiences with Crohn’s.
A support group also gets you out of the house and interacting with people. You get to meet new people and talk about the shared problems you face. You realize that you are not alone and that there are strategies for working through issues.
Support groups are a great way to deal with the symptoms of depression and anxiety that often come with a Crohn's diagnosis.
Traditional support groups involve in-person meetings where people usually discuss how they deal with Crohn’s. This type of support group will have you interacting with people who have experienced the same symptoms that you face.
Some groups may even bring in specialized speakers, such as local doctors and nutritionists, to provide members with different strategies for dealing with the condition.
The easiest way to find a traditional Crohn's support group is to ask at your gastroenterologist's office. If they don’t know of any local groups, call a few local hospitals. Often hospitals will sponsor support groups and provide meeting rooms for members.
You can also try researching a support group through national Crohn’s organizations to see if there is a chapter in your area. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America has chapters all across the country that offer support groups and activities. Also, The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease in the United Kingdom, and Crohn's and Colitis Australia offer support groups for people in those countries.
Attending a face-to-face support group is recommended because it will get you out of the house. This is important if you experience anxiety or depression related to your illness. But finding an online Crohn’s support group is an easy way to find a community. Simply type “Crohn’s support group” into a search engine.
Online support groups are a great way to find people to share your experiences with and discuss coping strategies. You can participate in an online support group offered through a national agency, such as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. These groups are reputable organizations, but you’ll still want to be cautious when forming friendships and giving out personal information. Use online support groups with caution and be aware of misinformation.