I feel so helpless

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

  • Suggested Resources

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    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
    Assures teens with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs that, "It's not your fault!" and that they are not alone. Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

    After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department
    Aids family members in coping with the aftermath of a relative's suicide attempt. Describes the emergency department treatment process, lists questions to ask about follow-up treatment, and describes how to reduce risk and ensure safety at home.

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    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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How to get rid of the feeling of helplessness and pull yourself together

July 31, 2018 Life

If circumstances are always stronger than you, it's time to change yourself and your outlook on life.

What is learned helplessness

Learned helplessness is a state in which a person does not try to influence the situation, even when they can. This phenomenon was discovered by the American psychologist Martin Seligman in 1967 during a series of studies.

Seligman's experiment involved three groups of dogs, each of which was placed in different cages. Animals from the first and second groups received a light discharge of current through the floor, and from the third - the control group - did not. The first group could turn off the current by pressing a button inside the cage. The second group did not have such an opportunity: the electric shocks stopped only when the dogs from the first group pressed the button.

Later, all subjects were placed in boxes with a partition that could be easily jumped over. Animals received electric shocks, and in order to avoid unpleasant sensations, they simply had to jump to the other side. Dogs from the first and third groups quickly figured out what to do and moved to a safe area.

The dogs from the second group remained where they were shocked, whining, but did not even try to run away.

Seligman explained the results by the fact that the animals from the second group learned to be helpless. They could not influence the situation in any way in the first part of the experiment, so they decided that nothing depended on them, and gave up any attempts to fight. Although it would not be difficult for them to jump over the partition. Seligman concluded that it is not the unpleasant situations themselves, but the perceived lack of control over them that develops learned helplessness.

Later, other psychologists conducted a similar experiment on humans, however, instead of a current, the stimulus was a loud unpleasant sound. Seligman's phenomenon of learned helplessness worked here as well.

Learned helplessness occurs all the time: in children, schoolchildren and students (“I don’t understand this subject and can’t do anything about it because I’m stupid”), company employees (“I won’t be promoted because I I can’t cope with the tasks”), wives and husbands (“The partner will continue to cheat on me, but I will not leave, because no one else needs / is not needed, and this cannot be fixed”).

A person who has learned helplessness is sure that he cannot influence his life. He will not see the possibilities, even if they are brought to him on a platter and poked with a finger.

He will always find an excuse:

  • Others can do it, but I can't.
  • I can't do it.
  • Why would I try if nothing works.
  • I have always been like this and I am not going to change anything.
  • I don't want this at all, I'm fine anyway.

When a person thinks that he is not in control of a situation, he stops taking active steps to eliminate the problem. Obviously, learned helplessness greatly reduces the quality of life.

In addition to the manifestation of apathy and inaction, a person can shift to another goal, the result of which is tangible, instead of looking for a solution to the real problem. For example, clean the apartment or cook dinner.

Learned helplessness can manifest itself in any area and become a creed in life, making a person an eternal victim of the situation.

Having learned helplessness, a person believes that his successes are an accident and his failures are his fault. Everything good that happens to him does not happen because of his actions, but by a happy coincidence. But failures haunt him only because he is not smart enough, ambitious and persistent.

What are the reasons for this state

Learned helplessness is an acquired state. It is not born with it, it is formed during life under the influence of certain factors.

1. Upbringing, attitudes of parents and teachers

Often learned helplessness appears in childhood. Unconsciously, parents or teachers instill this state in the child:

  • There is no obvious connection between actions and consequences (the child does not understand how and what his actions affect).
  • In fact, there are no consequences of actions (this applies to both punishments and rewards).
  • The consequences of different actions are the same (for deliberate lies and accidental damage to things, the punishments are the same; for a good grade in a complex subject and washed dishes, the same reward).

Sometimes the child simply cannot understand the reason: “Why is this happening and is there anything I can do?” For example, a student received a bad grade and does not understand why. He thinks that he is not smart enough for a particular subject, or maybe the teacher simply does not like him. If the child sees the reason in what he cannot influence, then he stops trying. When the teacher makes him understand that he is able to learn the subject and get a good grade, he will not feel helpless.

It is important that the child sees the connection between his efforts and the result.

These causes can develop learned helplessness not only in children, but also in adults - in work, personal or everyday life.

2. A series of failures

When active actions do not lead to a result one or two, but many more times, a person loses heart. He is constantly doing something, but there is no exhaust from it.

3. Patterned thinking

A man is a breadwinner, and a woman sits at home and brings up children. The stereotypes imposed by society and often having lost their original meaning prevent a person from reaching the goal, because “it’s not accepted that way, why would I go against the rules.”

4. Mentality

In a country where citizens are limited in their actions and cannot protect their rights, the phenomenon of learned helplessness is a common thing. People think, for example, "I won't sue because I'm going to lose anyway."

This state of helplessness passes to other spheres of life, a person ceases to believe in his own strength and lives according to the principle "inaction is the norm."

How to deal with learned helplessness

1. Make connections between actions and consequences

Always look for the connection between what you have done and what you have received. This applies to both positive and negative events. You need to understand what contribution you have made in order for the result to become what it has become. It is important not to stop acting.

2. Accept failure

If you experience failure, you are acting. Failures are indispensable, moreover, they teach us not to make mistakes again. Treat them as experiences through which you will soon succeed.

3. Become an optimist

Seligman believed that pessimists are more likely to learn helplessness than optimists, because they have different attribution styles - explaining the reasons for certain human actions.

To become an optimist, you need to rethink your attribution style. In his book How to Learn Optimism. Change the way you see the world and your life.” Seligman offers a quiz to help you determine your attribution style. Try to pass it.

Internal or external attribution

The person attributes responsibility for the situation to himself or to external factors.

  • How the pessimist thinks: "I failed because I'm stupid" is an example of internal attribution.
  • As an optimist thinks: “I failed because I was given too little time. A little more, and everything would have worked out, ”- an example of external attribution.
Stable or temporary attribution

Failures happen all the time or occasionally.

  • As a pessimist thinks: “I always get denied help, it’s been this way since school because no one cares about me” is an example of stable attribution.
  • As an optimist thinks: "Today he could not help me because his wife was giving birth, and this is more important than my problem," is an example of temporal attribution.
Global or specific attribution

The person sees the problem globally, not in a specific detail.

  • How a pessimist thinks: “I don’t know how to communicate with people, no one listens to me, because I’m a bore” is an example of global attribution.
  • As an optimist thinks: “I don't have a relationship with this person, because he has a completely different outlook on life,” is an example of a specific attribution.

The test results will show how you feel about different situations, which attribution style you use and whether you are more optimistic or pessimistic.

If you are more pessimistic, then you need to work on evaluating situations. Look for the causes of the problem. If you always blame yourself for everything, reconsider this and think about what other factors could have influenced the outcome of events. This is not about your own justification, but about the objectivity and adequacy of your assessment.

4. Try the ABCDE method

Martin Seligman and psychologist Albert Ellis have developed a method to overcome pessimism and learn to respond appropriately to unpleasant situations.

  • Situation. Describe her impartially: "I was late for an important meeting."
  • Your conviction. Say what you think of this situation: “I got off early, but the bus broke down, and then I got stuck in traffic. Public transport is disgusting, and traffic jams are due to inexperienced drivers.
  • Consequences. Think about what feelings and emotions the beliefs evoke in you: “I was very angry, I yelled at a random passerby, the whole day went down the drain. I will never take the bus to work again.”
  • Internal discussion. Discuss with yourself your reaction to the situation: “Did I get excited? I first got into a traffic jam on this section of the road, because there was a repair. Public transport is quite developed, before important meetings you need to plan several routes so as not to get into such a situation again.”
  • Recoil. Describe how you feel after thinking about the reaction: “I was able to deal with my anger and feel better. I'm glad I was able to look at things rationally."

If you regularly analyze each situation on the shelves, you will learn to soberly assess what is happening and begin to think positively. And a positive mindset is important for dealing with learned helplessness.

5. Consult a specialist

When you cannot cope with the problem on your own, you should contact a specialist. Learned helplessness is a serious problem that should not be ignored.

Read also 🧐

  • 3 ways to change your life for the better and enjoy every day
  • 7 unpleasant situations that will make you stronger
  • How low self-esteem affects our lives

The Mitch Hansen Band lyrics

The Third Wife

I see her eyes looking at the water
It's like she's looking down the barrel of a gun
I never wanted to be a martyr
If I thought it could help, I would try to run.

I can't believe it
It's all my fault
I feel so helpless
To answer the call.
She did everything she could,
But I did twice as much.
If it only protected you.
Just wanting to try is not enough.
A stone in my hands, I will stand
This is not a sacrifice on my part
Just like the third wife ????? ?

If I were strong, I would fight her
Maybe I should have said my last goodbye then
I feel like I led them to the slaughter
If I had the strength, I might scream/cry

I can't believe it
It's all my fault
I feel so helpless
To answer the call/call
She did everything possible
But I did twice as much
If only it would protect you
Just wanting to try is not enough
Stone in hand, I will stand
It's not a sacrifice on my part
Just like third wife????? ?

I can't believe it
It's all my fault
I feel so helpless
To answer the call
She did everything she could
But I did twice as much
If only it would protect you
Just wanting to try is not enough
A stone in my hands, I will stand
This is not a sacrifice on my part
Just like a third wife.

Learn more