Are you depressed, or are you just lazy?
The lack of motivation can be considered a symptom of depression. However, it can also be a symptom of laziness.
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even a year, distinguishing whether you are struggling with depression or battling with laziness may be a challenging task. When you are not feeling like doing anything, when you don’t experience any satisfaction from your life, and when all you end up doing is sitting on the couch and scrolling through memes that help you escape reality for a while, you may find yourself wondering what went wrong. Am I depressed, or am I just lazy?
As per PsychCentral, laziness is not a formal symptom of any type of depression. However, a lot of indications of this mental health disorder may look like laziness. According to Ernesto N. Lira de la Rosa, Ph.D., a psychologist on the Media Advisory Group at Hope for Depression Research Foundation, some of them are:
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Low energy and motivation
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty starting and completing tasks
Oftentimes these signs get overlooked exactly because people assign them negligence or carelessness.
Finding it difficult to get out of bed, perform usual household chores, or even take a shower could imply that you are being lazy, but it could also serve as a warning sign that you are struggling with an emotional disorder.
Moreover, it could also indicate avolition, which stands for a complete lack of motivation which makes you feel as if any type of task, no matter how simple, is almost impossible to complete. Avolition can be a symptom of severe depression, as well as other disorders such as schizophrenia.
In case you are dealing with depression, you should be aware it looks different for everyone. Someone who is always smiling, jokes a lot, and is often the life of the party, can still be depressed, despite looking like a ray of sunshine.
“Depression doesn’t always hit you at 3 am when you feel lonely. Sometimes it gets to you at 3 pm, while you’re with friends and you’re halfway through a laugh.”
Nevertheless, the most common kind of depression is called major or clinical depression. Profound sadness, decreased interest in activities, severe exhaustion, inability to focus, self-worth doubts, and suicidal thoughts are only some of the symptoms that indicate the presence of this mental health issue.
Furthermore, there is also a persistent depressive disorder. It’s called persistent because the symptoms remain for more than 2 years, but are typically not as critical as in major depression.
Sadly, many people suffering from depression don’t even realize it.
They usually happen to consider some of these indicators as parts of their personalities. When a symptom stays with you for so long, you start perceiving it as a normal reaction rather than a warning sign.
But how can you tell if you’re dealing with something much more serious than just being lazy?
Jennifer Weber, a child psychologist and the director of behavioral health for PM Pediatrics Behavioral Health, some signs you may be dealing with more than just procrastination include:
- Significant change. For example, a once energetic and driven person now finds it challenging to perform the simplest tasks.
- Unmet responsibilities. An important sign is when someone has difficulty caring for themselves or their kids, keeping their job, and performing daily tasks, such as maintaining their home.
Laziness is usually described as the state of being unwilling to work or use energy. However, nowadays, many of us are quick to call lazy someone who is not as productive as they should be according to society’s standards. We also judge ourselves harshly when we fail to complete a task for a certain time, even though we are perfectly aware that there is something else taking a toll on our productivity rather than laziness.
There are many reasons your or someone else’s behavior may seem “lazy.”
For instance, you may be exhausted from all the pressure you put on yourself to do a week’s worth of work in a single day. You may also be struggling with a medical condition that triggers chronic fatigue. Or, maybe, you are suffering an existential crisis.
Whatever the reason is, what’s important to remember is that being lazy is not a personality. It is a type of behavior. And, oftentimes, it is a matter of choice. Contrarily, depression rarely allows you the luxury of having a choice.
If you wonder whether there is more to your apparent laziness, procrastination, and lack of motivation, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Meanwhile, as Lira de la Rosa advises, “reflect on what this means to you and what messages you’ve received about laziness.”