Researchers have studied the effects of peer support groups with landmine victims, professional athletes, cancer patients, mental health challenges, PTSD, addiction, abuse in the home & chronic illnesses.
Across the board, the research shows that if you are going through a longer-term challenge like Lyme Disease you will get through it faster & feel better if you partake in a peer support group.
One of the most comprehensive studies done on the power of peer support focused on Diabetes. Similar to Lyme, Diabetes can affect every area of a person’s life, often for decades. The research found that a peer support group compliments and enhances other health care services because it offered emotional, social & practical assistance that helped people do the things they need to do to get & stay healthy.
With the lack of energy, exercise & social life its common for people recovering from Lyme Disease to experience anxiety and depression. Lyme can often be accompanied by a number of psychiatric symptoms.
There have been many studies done around depression comparing peer support group to the traditional recommendation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT – aka talk therapy with a counsellor). The studies conclude that peer support groups were as effective in reducing depression and in some cases more effective than CBT.
Other studies have been done around peer support groups and psychiatric symptoms. The peer support groups resulted in less days in the hospital, larger social support networks, enhanced self-esteem and social functioning.
Researchers observed that Peer support Groups were helping people recover faster but they couldn’t clinically explain why. So in 2002 Mark Salzer studied why Peer Groups are such an effective means of support and a number of other studies followed. The conclusion was that Peer Support Groups legitimately help an individuals recovery for primary 5 reasons: