Introduction for Nursing Diagnosis: Hopelessness

NANDA International has recognized Hopelessness as a nursing diagnosis since 1967. Hopelessness is categorized as a Cognitive Disorder and is defined as a vunerable feeling which results in an individual having decreased motivation. Such a person may project a vicarious feeling of hopelessness on to their environment as well a achieve future goals or objectives.

NANDA Nursing Diagnosis Definition

The NANDA Nursing Diagnosis for Hopelessness is “a vague, pessimistic feeling about the future”. This diagnosis is based on a subjective experience or a psychological evaluation or assessment.

Defining Characteristics


  • Expressions of despair, denying expectations
  • Describes inability to anticipate that efforts can change outcomes
  • Verbalization of difficulty in perceiving situations leading to successful outcomes


  • Withdrawn behavior and/or axiety
  • Minimal verbal interaction with health team members
  • Unenthusiastic attitude towards treatment plan
  • Decrease in level of activity and/or interests
  • Apathy and/or low self-esteem

Related Factors

  • Excess stress & frustration caused by unmet needs or unattainable goals.
  • Ineffective coping methods.
  • Lack of support from significant others.

Risk Population

Individuals with a previous history of mental or emotional illnesses are at an increased risk for experiencing feelings of hopelessness.

Associated Problems

  • Depression
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Negative self-talk
  • Low self-esteem
  • Alcohol and/or substance abuse

Suggestions for Use

This diagnosis can be used when assessing individuals who are perceived to be having difficulty in successfully completing tasks and/or achieving their goals due to feelings of helplessness, and/or a lack of motivation.

Suggested Alternative NANDA Diagnoses

  • Hopelessness related to inability to control life events
  • Hopelessness related to fear of failure
  • Powerlessness related to illness
  • Decisional conflict related to choices available with conflicting values

Usage Tips

It is important for nurses to take into account any biochemical imbalances like feeling depressed or anxious as possible causatives for an individual’s feelings of hopelessness.

List of NOC Results

  • Hopefulness
  • Self-Care Capacity
  • Self-Control
  • Risk Control
  • Coping

Each of these NOC Results correspond to the patient’s level of being hopeful and able to assume self-care and control of personal risk, as well as the ability to cope with the diagnosis.

List of NIC Interventions

  • Encourage Expression of Feelings
  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Develop Coping Skills
  • Manage Symptoms of Depression
  • Strengthen Problem Solving Abilities

These NIC interventions are aimed at reducing the symptoms of depression and strengthening clients’ problem solving abilities. They may also provide the client with the tools needed to better cope with the diagnosis.


NANDA nursing diagnosis for Hopelessness is a complex diagnosis that results from difficult circumstances which can impede one’s ability to have successful outcomes. It is important for nurses to assess for feelings of hopelessness that can contribute to ineffective coping strategies and further impair functioning. The nursing interventions suggested here can provide patients with the necessary skills to address their feeling of hopelessness with success.


  • What is the NANDA Nursing Diagnosis for Hopelessness?
  • The NANDA Nursing Diagnosis for Hopelessness is “a vague, pessimistic feeling about the future”.
  • What are some of the defining characteristics associated with this diagnosis?
  • Some of the defining characteristics include expressions of despair, denying expectations, verbalizing difficulty in perceiving situations leading to successful outcomes, withdrawn behavior and/or anxiety, minimal verbal interactions with healthcare personnel, unenthusiastic attitude towards treatment plan, decrease in activity and/or interests, apathy, and low self-esteem.
  • What are some associated problems with this diagnosis?
  • Some associated problems include depression, fatigue and exhaustion, sleep disturbances, negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and alcohol and/or substance abuse.

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