Hopelessness is a key factor that characterizes severe depression. In the book Darkness Visible, author William Styron describes how it feels when darkness takes hold.
"In depression, the pain is unrelenting and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come. Not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary. More pain is going to follow. It's hopelessness even more than the pain that crushes the soul," he writes.
If you know someone suffering from depression, Dr. Welner says the first thing you should do is focus on minimizing their hopelessness. Then, no matter how much the depressed person withdraws, don't allow them to isolate themselves. "If they shut you out, don't take it personally," Dr. Welner says. "That's when it's the illness talking."