Overcoming Learned Helplessness

Revive Therapeutic Services on Apr 28, 2022 in Mood and Feelings

Most of us are guilty of trying desperately to stop or start something, right?

Whether that something is to...

Stop smoking. Stop drinking. Start therapy. Start medication for depression.

When our attempt to change does not work the way we want it to, we come down very hard on ourselves. We become negative about the "thing" that was going to be different this time.

We think to ourselves, "I'll never be able to _____________."

The same can be said for depression and how one responds to it. "I've been depressed for so long; it's all I know." This is known as learned helplessness, and it occurs when people continuously face negative situations beyond their control, and as a result, they stop trying to change their circumstances even when they have the ability to do so.

People who are depressed may have feelings of sadness, loss of interest in most or all normal activities, sleep disturbances, fatigue, reduced appetite, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of death, and physical problems such as unexplained headaches or stomach aches. If the depression was caused by feelings of guilt for something he or she did or didn't do, then this individual may feel that the depression is deserved. The person may lay in bed all day and rehearse or ruminate over the event(s) that led up to the depression. Feelings of powerlessness and self-pity take hold and these people may be compelled to dwell in their dark space instead of seeking help.

But folks, trust me when I say that there is hope for you! By challenging negative self-talk and replacing pessimistic thoughts with more positive ones, people can learn how to become more optimistic.


You don't have to stay in this pit of despair trying to STOP or START something repeatedly without succeeding.

Your recovery is NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

There is hope.

There is help.

There is healing.

There is no shame in beginning again.

You must lean into the journey and do the hard work of retraining your brain to believe that what seems impossible is really possible with intentional steps towards unlearning learned helplessness. It is not just a cliché when people talk about the human brain being powerful. Your brain has the ability to become rewired when you stop the negative thinking in its tracks and replace it with optimistic, positive thinking. This "rewiring" is afforded to us by the brain's neuroplasticity which allows it to reorganize itself from physical or emotional injuries... How EXCITING!

Aren't you glad that YOU DO HAVE POWER to make the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE?!

Revive Therapeutic Services is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in Providence, RI.

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