How Do I Know if I Struggle with Learned Helplessness?

How Do I Know if I Struggle with Learned Helplessness?

Learned helplessness is a state animals can get into when they meet negative stimuli when they try to escape. After awhile, they stop trying to get away. They assume the situation is hopeless and cannot be changed. This can become such an issue that even when an escape is presented, they cannot take advantage of it. Find out if you struggle with learned helplessness and how to seek help.

What is Learned Helplessness

This concept of learned helplessness plays a large role in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you feel helpless due to anxiety, you may give up looking for a solution. Continued in action may cause you to refuse therapy or medication, even when those things may make a difference. Learned helplessness begins at a young age, generally in childhood. Scientists believe distant parenting worsen the feeling of learned helplessness and anxiety. The child learns early on they are helpless and their parents will not come to their aid. Growing up with parents who suffer from learned helplessness can lead to a child developing it, too. Over time, the child will see his situation as determined and unable to be changed. This becomes a vicious cycle.

The Cycle

Anxiety and learned helplessness becomes a vicious cycle quickly. If the child is anxious and cannot be soothed, he feels like nothing can be done and learned helplessness sets in. The more he accepts it, the more anxiety takes hold. Symptoms of learned helplessness linked to anxiety include:

  • Frustration
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Difficulty sleeping


While learned helplessness can be a serious problem, it can be treated if targeted by a mental health professional. Studies have found that if people receive intervention at the beginning, it can decrease learned helplessness with therapy and coaching. Once the issue is tackled, treatment for anxiety can begin.

Getting Help

Not all people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience learned helplessness. It develops over the course of time with sets of factors at play. Genetic and environmental factors may increase the likelihood of developing both GAD and learned helplessness. If you feel you are stuck with these patterns, you can seek help with cognitive behavioral therapy or other types of therapeutic support which may help you with proper coping skills to manage symptoms.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.