Hopeless and Helpless: Stopping the Cycle
by Roberta Tovey, Director of Communications, MoodNetwork
Among the most common symptoms of depression are hopelessness–feeling that things cannot get better, and that life has no meaning or purpose–and helplessness–feeling that there’s nothing one can do to change the situation. Feeling hopeless and helpless is a dangerous combination that can lead to despair and suicidal ideation.
To make matters worse, many who struggle with depression face concrete barriers to getting better, such as isolation or lack of information about depression or bipolar disorder. Many also may have limited access to care, either because they don’t have insurance for mental illness and can’t afford to pay out of pocket, or simply because good care is not available nearby. These barriers can increase the risk of suicide.
While online support groups and forums can help make people with depression feel less alone, they do not offer a framework for positive action.
MoodNetwork.org, a collaborative research network for people with depression and bipolar disorder (mood disorders), is designed to provide not just support and community, but also reliable information about mood disorders. Even more important, by actively engaging participants as equal partners in the search for better, more effective treatments, MoodNetwork offers those with mood disorders a way to get out of the dangerous loop of hopelessness and helplessness.
Participants in MoodNetwork work alongside clinicians and researchers to learn more about mood disorders and to figure out new ways to treat these conditions, including both traditional and alternative therapies. In surveys, blogs, and forums, participants describe their symptoms and discuss what has worked and what hasn’t worked for them. Participants can ask and get answers to the questions that are important to them, and even help determine the direction of new research. If they wish, participants also have the option to join new studies on treatments for mood disorders.
Access to reliable information and resources, combined with an active, meaningful role in working towards treatments for these conditions, can help break the dangerous cycle of hopelessness and helplessness that affect so many who struggle with mood disorders.