Desperation is a symptom of depression, although anyone can feel despair regardless of whether or not they are suffering from depression. We often feel despair after tragic events in our lives, especially when we experience a significant loss. It tends to be the main emotion people feel after a sudden traumatic event, which is normal, but can lead to irrational decision-making in the heat of the moment. Fortunately, we are capable of uncovering the light that is veiled by this hopeless feeling. We can learn to cope with these losses, move on, change, and continue our lives although they will be altered in some way.

Despair is a very intense feeling of hopelessness. The feeling can be described as a mix of misery, discouragement, anguish, agony, and distress. For those with depression, this feeling is often associated with suicidal thoughts. Since we may feel that there is no hope for a happier future, life itself can seem meaningless. This hopeless feeling affects different people in different ways. The actions we perform during a state of despair tend to be impulsive and irrational, such as breaking up with a significant other or running away from home.

How/When Despair Can Harm Us

Because of the actions we take in these moments of desperation, despair can be harmful to our health. The panic we experience when we feel completely hopeless causes us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. Sometimes these decisions can be helpful and liberating, such as finally standing up to a bully or speaking your mind after being socially anxious for a long time. Most of the time, however, the choices we make out of desperation are severe and dangerous due to stemming from negative connotations.

This could happen under a variety of circumstances. Someone who has just lost all of their money to gambling may make the decision to leave their family because of how ashamed they feel. Someone who is angry with a friend or family member might divorce or break up with their partner due to wanting to isolate themselves completely. Someone who fails out of college might take the remainder of their savings and travel to start a new life in another state or country. Someone who cannot tolerate their loneliness any longer might suddenly decide to marry a stranger from the Internet out of desperation. Someone who has been bullied for years might decide to take his or her own life due to feeling worthless over time.

Obviously we often regret these decisions after we have made them, or after we have gotten over our panic and hopeless feelings. These decisions are results of not feeling like ourselves at the time they were made. Despair is a powerful, intense state of mind that easily affects our judgment, which in and of itself is harmful. It could be equated to being drunk—we are not in our right minds.

Despair And External Relationships

It is important to understand that other people can be affected by the decisions we make in moments of panic, sometimes even long-term. People have been broken up with or divorced, abandoned, forced out of their homes, died, or experienced other significant losses because of decisions made in moments of desperation. In fact, most of the decisions we make when we’re in a panic tend to end up affecting others.

We may realize that our decisions are going to affect other people, but we do not take into account that it may affect them for a long time. We realize we are making a rash decision, but we do not think of the long-term consequences. We are looking for instant gratification in the heat of the moment. Sometimes we don’t even care about other people’s lives or feelings and recognize that what we are doing is selfish, but do it anyway because of feeling so hopeless about our own lives. It can be difficult for those affected by our decisions to ever forgive us, so relationships are often severed as well.

How Therapy Can Help

If possible, it would be ideal to contact a therapist before making any irrational decisions. Obviously this isn’t very possible when something happens suddenly and we are unable to control our emotions, such as a car accident, but we often panic and take action after days or weeks of dwelling on it as a potential outcome to an array of problems that have built up. A therapist can help us think rationally in states of despair to prevent us from making irrational choices that could affect others for years. It will not be necessary to see a therapist every time you experience these feelings, because they will teach you how to handle these situations in the future as well. Therapy can teach you that there is still hope and a reason to keep going, no matter how hopeless everything seems right now.

Help Us Improve This Article

Did you find an inaccuracy? We work hard to provide accurate and scientifically reliable information. If you have found an error of any kind, please let us know by sending an email to, please reference the article title and the issue you found.

Share Therapedia With Others