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a feeling that one's efforts as an individual will not influence the outcome of a situation. Patients may experience learned helplessness as a result of overly rigid institutional rules or behaviors of staff members. Individualized care fosters self-esteem and will assist in the prevention of helplessness.


a feeling of a loss of control or ability, usually after repeated failures, or of being immobilized or frozen by circumstances beyond one's control, with the result that one is unable to make autonomous choices.


A feeling of dependence, powerlessness, defenselessness, or depression, e.g., in the face of crisis or overwhelming circumstances. See: hopelessness; powerlessness

learned helplessness

A passive fatalistic behavior that one cannot influence one's environment, or alter one's existence. This condition may sometimes arise in persons who have chronic illnesses, depression, phobias, or loss of functional independence.


n a perception held by a person because of which he or she feels powerless or unable to act independently. Typically associated with persons diagnosed with chronic disease.

Patient discussion about helplessness

Q. My pot shape belly is worrying me a lot and now I am helpless to bring it to right shape. What can help me? My pot shape belly is worrying me a lot and now I am helpless to bring it to right shape. My work is computer related and the shift schedule is so tough that I am left with no time for gym and exercise. There is a growth in my hips size as well and I feel completely uncomfortable. My body becomes completely heated after my work. I eat my meals regularly as I know pretty well that dieting without exercise does more harm than any good and I feel stressed. What can help me?

A. You reduce on your diet to small diet as it will be burned. Once the food is used by the body it won’t pound on your body. To reduce the gained fat and belly you have to do some exercise to excite muscles to form in the areas where you require and to reduce the excess fat where not required, especially at your belly and hips. I think you must go for swimming and this will definitely help ease your problems to a considerable level.

Q. Why is the cancer make people die? I saw alot of people who die because cancer. I feel afraid of it.

A. Cancer is a a big and somewhat scary name for many malignant tumors that can grow anywhere in the body. The reason the disease can sometimes cause death is because the tumor cells grow much faster than healthy body cells, thus they invade in different tissues and organs of the body and make them stop functioning properly. You don't need to be afraid of the idea, because although that is one of the biggest medical problems nowadays, there are some very good treatments for many cancers and a lot of the people are cured completely. Cancer does not mean the same as death and the focus should be on early diagnosis and treatment.

More discussions about helplessness
References in periodicals archive ?
Therefore, we examined if and how dysfunctional attitudes, coping styles, and learned helplessness are interrelated in male drug abusers, and proposed the following hypotheses:
But why does his helplessness become pronounced only when coalition partners make honest governance impossible for him ( as he would like us to believe)?
Due to links between learned helplessness and depression (Seligman, 1975), participants were screened for depressive tendencies.
It is easy to see how low teacher self-efficacy, particularly low personal efficacy, can lead to a state similar to learned helplessness, ff a teacher does not feel prepared to face the challenges that present themselves, and when the challenges themselves tend to be difficult to make positive impact upon as is the case when some students struggle academically, then will assistance from other trained personnel help forestall the potential for development of learned helplessness?
The only explanation for this violence is this crippling feeling of helplessness in a country whose State institutions are dubiously falling apart.
TRAUMATIC: Feelings of helplessness experienced as a child after abuse can lead to problems in adulthood such as panic attacks and depression
5 strategies to halt helplessness personally and professionally:
She added: "I can deal with the basic fact that a tragedy has happened in my life, but I will never, ever get over the feeling of helplessness when I was holding Mike's head in my hands, pleading and hoping he would stay with me, and knowing I couldn't do a damn thing to control the course of events.
Previous study finding have suggested that patients who experience a myocardial infarction as a life-threatening event may exhibit symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including reexperiencing the event, hyperarousal, intense fear or helplessness, and avoiding cues related to the event, reported Lina Wiedemar.
Learned helplessness is the state immediately before depression, and its most serious consequence is suicide.
The statement 'Don't complain to me, I just work here,' captures the sense of helplessness and frustration workers feel when they discover there's no way around their organization's infuriating policies, regulations and procedures.
After countless hours at sea the men in the open boat have lost nearly all hope of survival and are becoming increasingly frustrated with the seeming helplessness of their situation.