How To Stop Feeling Hopeless
By: Corrina Horne
Updated June 29, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Heather Cashell
Losing hope can mean losing direction, and no longer understanding the point of your job, your relationships, or your life. Hopelessness might have emerged following the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a beloved relationship. Hopelessness might not even seem to have a cause, and can flare up without explanation or an easily identifiable catalyst.
Hopelessness might seem like a never-ending companion once it has made a home in your life, but it does not have to live with you forever. Recognizing hopelessness is the first step to recovering hope.
The First Step
Recognizing that there is a problem and looking for a solution is always a good first step toward addressing that problem. And though it seems like a small step, when you're feeling hopeless even the smallest of steps can feel insurmountable. So the fact that you're still searching and fighting, the fact that you came here to this article, is important. Don't let feeling hopeless trump the importance of what you've just done. You have recognized that prolonged feelings of hopelessness do not have to be your status quo, and you have begun to seek a way out from the shadow of despair that may be engulfing you. That deserves recognition.
The Next Step
The next step is figuring out where those feelings of hopelessness are coming from. Without knowing you personally, it is impossible for an internet article to diagnose what's causing those feelings within you. A horrible situation may be the cause, but sometimes what seems hopeless to you right now, is in reality an opportunity to move forward and emerge a happier and more resilient person.
Let's consider for a moment that things are not as awful as they appear right now. Often, feelings of hopelessness are thoughts hijacking your reality, coloring even what could be your brightest moments in varying shades of gray. And if this is the case in your situation, you are still left with the questions you started with. What is the source of these feelings of hopelessness? How can you make them go away? A licensed counselor with an unbiased perspective can help you determine the source of your feelings.
Navigating the Loss of Hope
Hopelessness is usually associated with periods of anxiety or depression. If you feel hopeless, you are not alone. Over 18% of the population live with anxiety disorders, and approximately 7% have a depressive disorder. Most importantly, 80% of these populations experience significant improvement in symptoms following treatment. Because depression and anxiety can make you feel isolated, alienated, and embarrassed, hopelessness may go unchecked for quite some time before you seek treatment.
Recovery for these issues is absolutely possible, and could be right at your fingertips. Therapy can help treat hopelessness at its root, whether that is through online counseling sites such as BetterHelp.com, or through a local therapist and face-to-face meetings.
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Treating Hopelessness with Therapy
Because hopelessness can often paralyze your ability to reach out for help, reaching out to a therapist or therapy clinic can prove difficult. Therapy practices themselves can be quite intimidating, as most require insurance information and a basic rundown of your issues upfront. If you have a full schedule, it may be difficult to find the time to see a therapist in-person. Finding treatment is certainly possible, but can prove tricky.
This is where online counseling sites such as BetterHelp.com come in: you can choose when you'd like to schedule your sessions, and you don't need to waste time commuting to your session, either. The costs of online sessions are typically the same as the co-pays for in-person sessions.e. Many insurance companies require a concrete diagnosis before treatment can move forward, while online therapy may be able to provide focused treatment without the rigid requirement of a formal diagnosis Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"After having two tries at in-person therapy that didn't fit, I was so happy to find Lisa Rivers. She was so helpful to me in a very short period of time, helping me get through a "stuck" period in my life. She gave me validation, reading material that was helpful, and great video sessions. I appreciate her very much!"
"Rachel is a patient, dedicated, skilled, and kind counselor. Her expertise and thoughtful approach has helped gain insight to my problems, which in turn has armed me with confidence to forge ahead, flaws and all."
Is Your Hopelessness Caused By Depression?
A feeling of hopelessness is often one of the key diagnosing factors for depression. Although many people associate depression with feelings of sadness, feeling both hopeless and helpless are frequent symptoms of depression means feeling stuck, apathetic, lost, or as though there is no hope or possibility of getting better, which is one of the aspects of the disorder that makes it so dangerous: the condition behaves as though it is the end of the line, when it absolutely is not.
If hopelessness is accompanied by unexplained weight gain or loss, sleep disturbances, feelings of apathy, or loss of interest in things that once caused you joy, depression may be at least partly responsible for your hopeless feelings, and treating your condition could directly assist in dissolving hopelessness.
Is Your Hopelessness Caused By Anxiety?
Anxiety could also be the source of hopelessness. Anxiety is characterized by intense or persistent feelings of anxiety that linger for an extended period (typically at least one month), without a distinct, reasonable trigger. Feeling apprehensive about an upcoming interview, for instance, is unlikely to be due to an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is usually characterized by anxious feelings, sleep disturbances, a racing heart, racing thoughts, feelings of fear or paranoia, and hyper vigilance. All of these (and more) can signal the onset of an anxiety disorder, and feelings of hopelessness can arise when anxiety is a constant companion, and there is no sign of alleviation or healing in the near future.
As with depression, however, anxiety is extremely treatable, and does not need to be a source of hopelessness. Treating anxiety will likely alleviate many feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, as you will be getting the help you need to manage your symptoms, and even overcome your disorder.
What You Can Do
The good news is that regardless of the cause of your feelings of hopelessness, there are things you can do to shed those feelings. Many other people have been in your shoes-approximately 20% of the population, in fact-and have walked away with renewed vigor and a renewed excitement for life. Seeking help is the first step in any form of treatment, and doing something as simple as researching local therapists or online therapy resources can be a tremendous and exciting step forward. Getting the perspective of someone outside of your immediate circle, with fresh eyes and a broad view can help ease some of the uncertainty, concern, and sadness people feel on a day-to-day basis.
From there, selecting a therapist will depend on your unique needs and comfort level. If hopelessness is your primary target, you and your therapist can work with that feeling, and identify its roots and sources. If you find yourself matching the criteria for anxiety or depression, you can search for a therapist who specializes in these areas. Whatever path you take, there will be a therapist who has worked with someone who feels similarly, and is ready and willing to walk with you on your own path toward healing.
Tools to Find Hope (Besides Therapy)
If therapy is not quite on your radar yet, that's okay! There are steps you can take to help ease some of your hopeless feelings. These include:
1) Connect with Loved Ones. Hope is often reinvigorated when you connect with people you know and love. Reach out to a friend or family member to reassure yourself that there are still reasons to connect with people, and reasons to keep trying.
2) Cry. That's right: let your hopelessness run wild for a few minutes and allow yourself to have a good, long cry. Suppressing emotions can actually make them stick around longer, so let yourself feel hopeless for a minute, and let yourself really sob. Take a walk outside afterwards to help clear your mind, and you'll see how new emotions start to appear besides hopelessness.
3) Try Something Different. If you've never gone for a jog, give it a try. If you've never sung karaoke with wild abandon, give it a whirl. If you're feeling hopeless about the life you're living, get out of that life for a while and try something new.
4) Meditate. Meditation has many benefits, but one of the most important ones is the ability to focus on the present. Hopelessness usually stretches into the future, and quickly becomes overwhelming. Learning how to stay focused on the present moment can help alleviate these feelings.
5) Practice Gratitude. Feeling hopeless often coincides with feeling as though there is nothing to be grateful for. Take a minute to jot down just one thing you are grateful for. It could be the air in your lungs, the ability to listen to your favorite song on the radio, or the trill of a bird outside of your window. You don't have to create a huge list; just find one thing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do you do when you have no hope?
When you’re feeling hopeless, it is important to not isolate yourself. Consider talking to a friend or someone you can trust about how you feel. They may be able to give you another perspective on the matter, which can also provide valuable insight. This may also allow you to stop feeling hopeless as you consider things and start to question your hopelessness. Feelings of hopelessness are not always an accurate depiction of the situation at hand.
How do you deal with helplessness?
If you feel a sense of helplessness, you should reach out for mental support when you need it. It may lead to feelings of depression when it isn’t addressed the proper way. Getting help when you need it is the best way to deal with helplessness, but you can also consider talking to yourself and keeping track of any triggers that are making you feel hopeless.
How do you find hope when there is none?
When you’re feeling hopeless or you feel that there is no hope, it’s okay to change the rules up a little bit. This can help you change your perspective and stop feeling the way you have been feeling. Even if you feel depressed, consider doing something nice for yourself or taking the time to relax and reevaluate what is going on.
How do you feel hopeful?
One way to stop feeling hopeless is to change the way you are thinking about certain situations. For example, if you feel hopeless after a breakup, you should consider other facets that are positives about the situation. You will no longer have to share a bathroom with someone or worry about prioritizing someone else’s feelings over your own. Try to focus on positive aspects. Just because you’re feeling hopeless doesn’t mean you have to keep feeling that way.
How do you get hope back?
If you are trying to get hope back, you need a reason for hope. Think about all the things you have accomplished in your life and how far you have come. There were probably times in your life where you thought you wouldn’t make it, and you did. Focus on these things, and your strengths, instead of mistakes that you feel you have made. Try to keep yourself in check when you notice you’re feeling hopeless.
What are the symptoms of learned helplessness?
Some of the symptoms associated with learned helplessness are giving up, becoming frustrated, low self-esteem, putting no effort into tasks, having no motivation, and procrastinating frequently. You may start to exhibit these symptoms when you are feeling depressed.
What is another word for helplessness?
There are not many words that mean helplessness. However, words that mean helpless are defenseless, destitute, powerless, and weak. Any of these words can describe how you’re feeling when you are experiencing feelings of helplessness.
What is an example of learned helplessness?
An example of learned helplessness is when someone tries a few times to succeed at something and they don’t. After that time, they may be convinced that they will never be good at the task and subsequently never try to accomplish it again. This can lead to feeling hopeless about something and feeling like you aren’t good enough, at times.
How Learned Helplessness is developed?
Learned helplessness is developed whenever a person must experience painful or unwanted aspects over time. For example, if a child cries every time they want something and their needs are catered to each time, you will have a problem getting them to stop crying. They may not want to do things for themselves, since they think that crying is the answer to their problems. They may also think that they aren’t capable of doing tasks by themselves.
What does Learned Helplessness mean in psychology?
Learned helplessness in psychology refers to the way a person behaves after they have had to endure painful or hopeless situations, where they will avoid these types of situations altogether, whether there is hope for overcoming them or not. For example, when someone is feeling hopeless and they are experiencing learned helplessness, they may not get out of an abusive relationship because they think that they will always be treated the same way by any partner they have and that they don’t deserve to be treated better.
How do you fix learned helplessness?
A good way to fix learned helplessness is to change how you’re feeling. When you can stop feeling hopeless, you will be able to change your perspective. You may be able to do this by yourself or you might need to enlist the help of a counselor to learn the proper techniques.
What is God's hope?
Hope, in all facets, is something that can improve your mood and allow you to be able to accomplish your goals. For example, when you have hope that an event is going to work out well, you can stop feeling hopeless and start to feel like everything will be all right instead.
How can I be happy?
One way to approach happiness is to be good to your body. Get the right amount of sleep, do things you like to do, and maintain a healthy diet. These things can go a long way in terms of improving your mood and they may be able to keep you from feeling depressed.
How do you feel hopeful about the future?
When you want to feel hopeful about the future, you can set future goals for yourself and start to work towards them. For example, you can decide that you want to read 5 books by the end of the year and start shopping for books to read. This will give you something to look forward to and can limit feelings of hopelessness.
What do you call someone who is hopeful?
A person who is hopeful may also be called optimistic, positive, upbeat, or confident. When you’re feeling hopeless, you may be considered pessimistic, downcast, dejected, or downcast.
Is hopeful an attitude?
Hopeful can be considered an attitude. When you are hopeful, you are less likely to experience unwanted things like depression hopelessness.
What does it mean to feel hopeful?
When a person is hopeful, this means they have a positive outlook when it comes to a specific event or towards the future.
Why is being hopeful important?
Hope is important because when people approach a situation with hope, there is sometimes a greater chance of succeeding. If you are feeling depressed and feeling hopeless, you may not be able to complete a task or get something accomplished.
How do you stay hopeful in difficult times?
A good way to stay hopeful in difficult times is to have someone to lean on. Having a support system that you can talk to about your problems and thoughts can be just what you need to keep from feeling hopeless. Do what you can to cultivate relationships with people that you care about, so they can be there for you when you need them.
How do you keep hopeful?
There are a number of ways that you can stay hopeful, even if you have a great feeling of hopelessness. One way is to do something nice for a stranger. You can see the impact you may have on a stranger’s life, and it can change your perspective. Other things to try are taking time to do something nice for yourself and forgiving yourself for things you have done. It may also be beneficial to seek out mental health counseling, if you feel like you need it. Therapy is a great tool when you want to stop feeling hopeless.
What does Zell Miller pay for?
The Zell Miller Scholarship will pay for college tuition. You do have to meet certain requirements and there is a limit to the amount that will be covered by this scholarship.
How many hours does hope cover?
The HOPE scholarship will pay up to 127 semester hours. You will need to be sure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements to be certain that you can receive the benefits of it.
What is hope GPA?
There is a special way to calculate HOPE GPA, so you can determine what yours is. It is different than your high school GPA, so you will have to refer to the documents that explain it, where you can calculate it for yourself.