TU55: Feeling Empty? Demoralization and the Fight Back to Caring Again.

by | Feb 14, 2018 | Brain Science, Emotional Intelligence, Episodes, Mindfulness, Neuroscience, Personal Growth

Show Notes

Have you given up the fight (political, interpersonal….)? In this episode we attempt to reignite the fight inside you for things that used to matter, and distinguish demoralization from clinical depression.

Hopelessness, loss of meaning, and existential distress – these are the characteristics not of depression as one might think, but of demoralization. They are different syndromes with different directions for intervention. Find out more in this episode where co-hosts Ann Kelley PhD and Sue Marriott LCSW CGP discuss how transitioning from taking an active stance towards either situation can be beneficial. Learn how you can develop both internal and external coping mechanisms against demoralization.

Please listen through the end we thank several of you for leaving a rating/review for us!

Sue Marriott is a professional clinical social worker and psychotherapist, Ann Kelley is an experienced psychologist and together they along with their guests, bring the science of relationships to the world in practical understandable tidbits.

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Episode 55:



Defining demoralization, differentiating between depression and demoralization

Demoralization – feeling of hopelessness, dropping your hands to your side, idea of the “collapse”

Depression is a physiological state. People stay in this physiological state.

Demoralization: You can’t imagine positive for anticipated events

Demoralization clinically speaking is more of an existential crisis, idea of things being “too easy”

Antidepressants are unlikely to help a demoralized person


Importance of developing agency, competence, “grit” of overcoming demoralization (and not taking that struggle from your children)

Solution to demoralization: transitioning from passive to active, changing the environment, asking for accommodations

Consider the way you’re complaining in dissatisfaction and external, you might be taking the demoralized approach

Demoralization is inability to cope. Internal and external coping can counteract. Feel trapped.

These shifts can be very difficult.


Demoralization is related more to Dismissive, or Anxious-Avoidant Attachment, choosing to stay down and bypass feelings, rather than get hopes up then get disappointed over and over again

Within hope there’s desire and connection, without those you can’t push forward

You can’t talk someone out of demoralization

Demoralization is more linked with suicidal ideation than depression – is serious in it’s own right

Taking quarter or half steps to affect change and feel efficacy, transitioning from left to right brain thinking

Be interested in what happens to you when you become deflated – explore, be curious

Depression is serious and should be treated but demoralization is important to differentiate. Inactivity is detrimental to both

Talking to yourself out loud, using your name is a form of taking action. Take active curiosity in why you complain.

Wrap up

Hey careful listeners… we never figured out the French phrase Sue was trying to remember, rough english translation of dropping your hands by your side. Any ideas there?





Grief, Demoralization and Depression: Diagnostic Challenges and Treatment Modalities

The Demoralized Mind

More Resources here



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