Don’t be hard on yourself. You got this.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people struggle with depression. This condition impacts people of all ages, and it’s a leading cause of disability worldwide.
Depression is a mood disorder that often makes people feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. In some cases, it can feel difficult to get out of bed or complete normal tasks. In general, people with depression often feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and apathy. This sadness can be overwhelming, and thoughts of suicide or death may accompany it.
Depression typically starts slowly. While symptoms can emerge at any time, the condition usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Sometimes, the condition lies dormant for many years- ebbing and flowing based on various life stressors. Other times, it can seemingly “come out of nowhere” and progress rapidly.
People with depression want to enjoy life, but they feel like such enjoyment is impossible. The days often bleak, and their self-confidence may be nonexistent. As a result, motivation feels challenging, and successes tend to be overlooked.
It’s important to remember that people with depression can’t just “snap out of it.” Depression is a mental illness- it is not a choice or matter of willpower.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
The signs and symptoms of depression can be different for every person. To meet the criteria for depression, you must exhibit several of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:
Emotional/Mental Signs and Symptoms:
- Anhedonia (lack of interest in activities).
- Withdrawal from friends or family.
- Problems at school or work.
- Concentration issues.
- Sadness or feeling empty.
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death.
- Self-harming behavior.
- Difficulty with memory or thinking clearly.
- Inability to make decisions.
- Engaging in escape behavior such as gambling, substance abuse, or dangerous sports.
Physical Signs and Symptoms:
- Unexplained stomach issues.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Changes in appetite.
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- Loss of energy.
- Joint or muscle pain.
- Ignoring household chores, like laundry or dishes.
- Neglecting personal hygiene, like showering or brushing your teeth.
- Decreased libido.
At times, depression symptoms overlap with other conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or a substance use disorder. It can also coincide with physical conditions like diabetes or thyroid conditions.
If you think you have depression, reach out to a health professional. They will evaluate your symptoms and review your physical and mental health history to determine an accurate diagnosis.
What Causes Depression?
There isn’t a single variable that causes mental illness. Instead, experts agree that various factors may increase one’s likelihood of developing depression. Some of the common risk factors include:
- History of trauma.
- Biological factors that affect serotonin or dopamine.
- Family history of depression.
- Long-term isolation or loneliness.
- Prolonged work stress.
- Drug or alcohol use.
- Serious medical illness.
People who have pre-existing mental health conditions may also be more at risk of developing depression.
Can Depression Make You Lazy?
Yes, depression can make you lazy. A lack of motivation and a general disinterest in life are both side effects of having depression. The combination of these side effects often makes the person feel or appear lazy.
The most significant difference between laziness and depression is that people with depression do not choose to feel the way they do. They often want to be productive and energetic, but they find it impossible to do so.
Additionally, depressed episodes must last for at least two weeks. In many instances, they last for several weeks or months. Laziness can be more sporadic and temperamental- people might only act lazy when they really don’t want to do tasks.
Many mental health disorders can impact your motivation, including ADHD.
Tips for Coping with Laziness
First, it’s important to remember that laziness isn’t always a bad thing. We aren’t wired to be productive 24/7. This strategy only leads to burnout and exhaustion. Everyone needs a break sometimes, so it’s natural to feel like you’d rather rest.
But if you frequently struggle with laziness, it’s time for some internal reflection. Consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I feel more tired than usual?
- Am I overwhelmed by the task at hand?
- Do I feel cynical about what I need to accomplish?
- Do I have too much on my plate?
- Am I overly concerned about making a mistake?
Many factors can cause laziness. For example, if you follow a poor diet, you may feel more tired than usual. If you use drugs or alcohol, these vices can also sap your energy. Finally, laziness can also stem from procrastination. You feel anxious at the idea of starting a new task, causing you to respond by avoiding it altogether.
Take some time to reflect on what may be triggering your laziness. If you find that laziness is getting in the way of your productivity, consider these tips for managing it.
Focus on Making Manageable, Obtainable Goals
People often struggle with starting tasks because their goals are too unrealistic. It can be difficult to find the discipline to start a new activity when it feels daunting.
If you have a big goal, break it into smaller goals to make it more manageable. For example, if you want to write a book, set a monthly word count to reach. From there, decide how much you want to write each week, and then break it down the number of words you intend to hit each day.
Ideally, this strategy should make larger tasks feel more manageable and straightforward. Now, all you have to do is focus on hitting a small daily goal.
You can use this method for any task you’re facing, whether it’s cleaning the house, studying for a test, or reaching your fitness goals. What may seem overwhelming at first can almost always be broken down.
If you try this method and still struggle with accountability, it’s time to reevaluate the goals. Are they broken down well enough? Does it still feel unmanageable? If so, consider breaking them down into even smaller pieces.
Perfectionism can be a silent thief. It steals your self-esteem and confidence, and it can also take your sense of productivity and work ethic.
Although it may seem paradoxical, laziness can be a symptom of perfectionism. That’s because the perfectionism may be so intense that you talk yourself out of trying something.
If you struggle with this pattern, it’s crucial to work on it. Try to release the need for things to be done perfectly. Remind yourself that it’s often better to do “good enough.”
Recognize When You Need to Ask for Help
Many people put unnecessary strain on themselves because they feel obligated to get everything done. This mindset can cause feelings of being overwhelmed. As a result, you might act lazy to rebel against your own self. This can obviously trigger a vicious cycle.
If you feel lazy because you are overwhelmed, it might be time to ask for help. You could ask for help completing the task- or just for emotional support while you get your work done.
Sometimes, it helps minimize lazy feelings if you have a friend helping you with your task list. If you make the job more fun, you’ll feel more motivated.
We live in a society that loves inundating us with constant distractions. From Facebook notifications to email pings to the temptation of watching our favorite Netflix show, resisting such temptation can be downright challenging.
If you want to work on your laziness, you need to decrease your vulnerability to distraction. What steals your time? Scrolling aimlessly through social media? Texting friends? Your family needing your attention?
Identify these triggers and take steps to eliminate or reduce them when you’re working. Consider structuring your time with a method like the Pomodoro technique, which builds in time for appropriate breaks during your work.
Reward Yourself for Small Successes
Make sure you take time to be proud of yourself and celebrate victories along the way. Set smaller goals that lead to your larger goal, and reward yourself every time you reach a milestone.
For example, if you studied for an hour without looking at your phone, allow yourself 5-10 minutes on social media. Rewards don’t need to be expensive or complicated to be effective. They just need to be motivating enough to keep you feeling inspired.
Some other ways to reward yourself include:
- Going on a short walk.
- Eating a snack.
- Sharing your success with a friend or family member.
- Giving yourself an afternoon off.
After you reward yourself, keep the momentum up by moving on to your next task.
How Can You Cope if You’re Struggling with Depression?
When struggling with depression, it’s often smart to take things one small step at a time. Reward yourself for reaching milestones and find a supportive community.
Seek Positive Support
Even though depression can feel like an isolating illness, remember that you are not alone. As mentioned, many people struggle with depression. They know what it’s like to feel scared, sad, and angry. Even if they don’t exactly understand your symptoms, people who love you will want to support you.
Surround yourself with positive people who understand what you’re going through and help you take care of yourself. Scheduling activities with your social support group can be an effective method of self-care.
While depression makes it easy to self-isolate, try to reach out to others. This strategy is vital if you know being around other people helps you feel more productive.
Consistently Plan Activities That Make You Feel Good
Make a list of activities that make you happy. Keep this list in an easily accessible location, like in a note on your phone or in your car. Refer to this list when you need an energy boost.
Make an effort to schedule time to do at least one of these things every day. It could be something small, like cooking your favorite meal or enjoying a warm bath. Pay attention to the things that don’t drain your energy too much and try to repeat those activities often.
Practice Relaxation Techniques Consistently
Since depression can drain your energy, it’s a good idea to practice relaxation techniques and incorporate them into your everyday life. What helps one person relax might not work for you- try to find something that allows you to feel recharged.
You could try meditation, journaling, or exercising. You can also consider yoga or progressive muscle relaxation. If you have a pet, try hugging them or taking them on a walk. Sometimes it’s helpful to just sit in silence and practice positive affirmations.
Prioritize Physical Activity
Research shows that physical activity helps people feel happier and healthier. Taking care of your physical self, even in small doses, helps you feel more productive.
Fortunately, you don’t need to scale massive mountains to reap the benefits of exercise. Committing to 30 minutes a day 3-5 times per week can make a tremendous difference. Try to find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s lifting weights, swimming, or even dancing around the house. The best exercise is one you can commit to doing on a regular basis.
Choose a time that works with your schedule and your mental health needs and stick to it.
Consider Professional Help
While some self-help techniques can improve depression, many people benefit from professional support. If you’re struggling, you may want to consider evidence-based therapy, such as; cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, or acceptance & commitment therapy.
In therapy, you will learn new ways to cope with your depression, and you will also learn more about your triggers. Moreover, therapy provides a safe place to explore your feelings- without worrying about being judged.
You may also benefit from medication. Antidepressants can help improve serotonin levels, which can help boost your overall mood. Learn about other treatments and medications.
Many people benefit from a combination of therapy, medication, and self-help. Depression is treatable, and you can learn healthy ways to manage your condition. Talk with your doctor to discuss the best options for your care.