It is common to feel hopeless and helpless after experiencing an overwhelming loss or a disruptive life change or after being diagnosed with chronic depression.
Feeling hopeless is not an uncommon feeling. Approximately 7% of the population suffers from depression, while over 18% have anxiety disorders. Following treatment, 80% of these populations report significant improvements in their symptoms.
Having a sense of hopelessness implies a lack of belief that life can be better than it currently is. It is not unusual for such feelings to lead to a disinterest in life and, in the most extreme case, to suicidal thoughts.
- How to Help your Loved One Deal with Hopelessness?
Watching our loved ones feeling down can be painful. But facing suicidal thoughts yourself or with a loved one can be terrifying. However, there are steps we can take – recognizing signs and taking small steps – that can save our lives.
Here are some tips that will help clear the fog from your loved one.
2. Offer them a Support System.
It’s normal to need support during a tough time, but accepting help from others can be difficult when we feel hopeless. If your loved one is having a hard time, offer them your full support so they can share their honest feelings with you.
Expressing feelings is difficult for some people, especially if you have been a military veteran. According to studies, 41% of veterans suffer from mental health issues and hopelessness. Most of their health concerns can stem from PTSD or health conditions, especially mesothelioma – a fatal illness. Yet, there are many mesothelioma victims that have beaten their disease and have lived long lives despite their diagnosis. While there is no guarantee of remission, facilities such as mesotheliomahope.com have found treatments that can prolong life. They have been able to diagnose early-stage mesothelioma, recommend the proper treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and have achieved remission.
If your loved one has been hiding under the shadows, fearing burdening you with their troubles, reach out to them. Extending your hand in this tough time will let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. Additionally, show them a hopeful and brighter side of the world, so they are not afraid to ask for assistance anymore.
- Help them Reframe Hopeless Thoughts.
It is common for people to visualize a worst-case scenario when they feel hopeless. Often, catastrophizing can cause you to believe that a difficult situation is permanent or to overestimate its severity.
Because a negative mindset perpetuates hopelessness, one of the best ways you can help your loved one deal with it is to educate them about reframing techniques. If it’s hard for them to understand reframing, teach them these three lessons:
- Even though you cannot undo what happened, the acute suffering, shame, and grief that give rise to hopelessness lessen with time. Practicing gentleness in the midst of intense feelings can make all the difference.
- While this loss or change may have felt unfair or devastating, countless more moments of happiness await you in the future –and it is better to be here when they come.
- The ability to focus on the positives in life doesn’t mean your struggles are forgotten or invalidated, but it does mean you don’t need to experience them quite as intensely.
Take, for instance, being rejected by your dream college. You may start believing that you won’t get into a good college and that you won’t achieve success in your career if you have a “worst case scenario” mindset. When you can see other possibilities, you might be able to envision new experiences, people, and opportunities. For example, if you take a gap year, you may experience totally new things. The key to achieving your goals is to remember that there are usually many ways to get there.
4. Make sure they Practice Positive Coping Strategies.
Hopelessness can also leave your loved one feeling numb or empty. It may be tempting for them to distract themselves or find other ways of avoiding the feelings.
Help them realize that this impulse may feel right at the moment; it may not help them feel better. Using unhealthy coping methods, such as alcohol, drugs, self-injury, careless driving, and risky sexual behavior, is more likely to exacerbate the sense of hopelessness they are trying to escape.
Introduce them to coping strategies so they can practice them together with addressing any underlying feelings and developing healthy coping skills. Help them find creative ways to express their feelings, like sketching, journaling, or singing. You can also help them move around a bit. Taking them outside to dinners or movies will urge them to focus on self-care.
Make sure they know that practicing gratitude when they have what they need. Even when they are having trouble staying positive, they must show compassion.
Feeling hopeless is a natural response to many life events. It’s also a result of some thoughts we rely on based on past experiences. But feeling hopeful is possible.
Helping your loved one requires your full support. Help them cope with things by showing unnerving support and showing them examples of how to cope. Show them how to implement positive coping strategies in all situations by reframing and reframing.