When Depression Causes a Lack of Motivation
The lack of motivation that can be caused by depression and other mental illnesses can be debilitating. There are some things that are so important they must be done as soon as possible. But for those who battle depression, the lack of motivation can be an enemy that seems insurmountable at times (Depression Can Drain You of Your Will to Live). Here's what to do when depression causes a lack of motivation.
Lack of Motivation is Common in Depression
The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established a working definition of mental health recovery that defines recovery as: “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”
You may have noticed all the elements of SAMHSA’s definition of mental health recovery require you to do something. “But,” I protest, “I can’t even get out of bed.” Depression saps motivation so completely, the depressed person can often find herself in the midst of a pile of tasks left undone and plans left unrealized.
Don't Mistake Depression and Lack of Motivation for Laziness
This is often where the depressed person can be, mistakenly, thought of as lazy or apathetic. A depressed person’s lack of motivation is not the same as laziness. When someone is lazy, they don’t want to do work or do unpleasant tasks, even when they have the energy to do so. They may be motivated just fine, they simply don’t want to exert themselves in any way.
The person who is unmotivated due to depression usually wants to work and do other things, but feels as if they can’t. This is a key difference between laziness and depression.
Since we see that becoming motivated even in the depths of our depression, or other mental illness, is a huge part of the mental health recovery process, let’s look at three ways to overcome the depression-caused lack of motivation we might feel.
3 Ways to Beat Depression's Lack of Motivation
1. Identify the Essentials
When you’re depressed and lack motivation, you may need to adjust your ideas about what is essential and what isn’t. Doing the dishes is essential; polishing the faucet isn’t.
2. Break Up Large Tasks Into Smaller, Easier Ones
Okay, so the kitchen needs cleaning. There are dirty dishes everywhere. But it’s such a huge job when we’re depressed that we let it go and it becomes much worse. And this just serves to make our depression worse because we feel lazy and no good. So instead of telling ourselves, “I’ve got to get this whole kitchen cleaned up,” we should break it down and say, the first thing is to unload the dishwasher full of clean dishes. But this is even too much, so we tell ourselves, “okay, the only thing I have to do right now is unload the silverware." This is a job we can usually get ourselves to do because it’s short and easy and requires only a bit of our valuable energy. Once we're done with the silverware, we can leave the kitchen and collapse on the couch until the next time we go to the kitchen for something and break off another small chunk by unloading just the bottom portion of the dishwasher.
By doing things this way, it allows us to at least get started on our immediate tasks. Granted, it takes a bit longer using this method, but it’s better than not doing anything at all.
3. Be Positive about Even the Smallest Victories
In mental health recovery, any small step should be celebrated. Use these victories to encourage and remind yourself that you can indeed overcome one step at a time. You’ll be able to say, “I know I can do it because I’ve done it before.” When depression causes a lack of motivation, know that you can still beat it.
Ehrmantrout, M. (2015, March 18). When Depression Causes a Lack of Motivation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/03/about-depression-caused-lack-of-motivation
Author: Mike Ehrmantrout
Do the dishes. Do the laundry. Take a shower and wash your hair. Get a haircut. (Can work miracles). Don't think about it, force yourself. Organize your drawers. Sometimes just sleep the day away. Don't be perfect, just do as much as you can. Keep order if you can. If that seems useless that's just the evil depression talking. Don't believe your feelings when you are depressed. They are lying to you. When you feel horrible say "I am depressed." It helps you realize that feelings are not reality. Cut yourself major slack. If you are alive, fed and sheltered then you did OK so far.
Also guys have a problem talking about their feelings. Duh. A man wouldn't be here unless he was dealing.
All these ideas are not perfect but they can lift you one or two notches so can see what tomorrow brings.
What all these things say is treat yourself the same way that someone who really loves you would. Lastly, you don't owe anyone an explanation how you got this way. Either they accept it or they don't. (Hint, ditch the ones who don't)
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Reading your post has made it just a little easier to cope.
I was where u are the first 25years of my.life. I saw and knew the dead beat, weak minded, wreaks, doing nothing, then I feel into a hole in my life I struggle with every day to climb out of. I had no clue that I would find it impossible not to go back to bed for days at a time. I figured some physical thing like so gla.d or organ was screwed up. Nope, I am depressed, every day all day long. Meds help alot but I'm not who I was, I understand and it sucks. I don't know I'd go back to being so work drive, that wasn't healthy ether, so I work and fight the emotions I have every day. The not till you are in my shoes, due you know squat aboute.
And fyi, mostly even severely depressed people WANT to be helpful but it is a situation that quite literally saps a person's strength to do so. In many cases, when a depressed person causes a problem or makes a mistake in public or at work, they do everything they possibly can to make it right in order not to feel more depressed and like a total failure.
Depression also doesn't just happen. Something, whether it is simply being alone for too long and not being able to trust people, or whether it is something drastic like losing family members or finding out your spouse is cheating on you right after you find out you have cancer....
Posting BS like this just makes things worse, you should be ashamed!
Sorry this got so long but it hit a nerve with me. I have had depression during my life and have known others who did as well. None of us wanted to feel how we felt. We weren't making excuses or seeking attention. It's like being lost in a dark tangled forest and not seeing any way out. My mother-in-law criticized me and accused me of being "lazy" and "no good" for her son. I was already feeling worthless and her scorn almost drove me over the edge to suicide. Thankfully for me, my husband was supportive and I got help and recovered. Not everyone is so blessed. So I implore you to be a part of the solution and not the problem. Learn about an illness and have the facts before you disparage someone and cause unintentional harm.
I read your post about deppression. I am deppressed and cant seem to get better. Can I have your contact information such as whatsapp or anything and ask a few questions regarding how you got better? Thx so much
Regardless that this is an old post, I wanted to comment my thoughts on this immature reply you so crudely felt the need to share.
Honestly, I feel sorry for you here because you must be a very angry person inside....maybe you didn’t get the proper love and attention you needed as an adolescent and prob lacked the proper education in the social world , which then framed your mind with only one track with the inability to understand kindness human decency. If you get off on seeking out and crudely bashing people who are only looking for support from others that are sharing similar life battles and whatnot,(note, none of which you clearly relate) then unfortunately, you are below average not only on a mental level, but a character level too. Maybe try smiling once in a while. Life is not that ugly man. ;)
Glad to see you work hard but if u ever get stuck with the serious illness of depression you will understand what it entails. You speak in ignorance about depression. Telling a person who has clinical depression to work hard every day is like telling a person that is blind to open their eyes and drive down a busy highway. You have no idea what you are talking about or what your "brain" is thinking. No one knows an illness until they experience it firsthand. Hopefully, you never eat your cruel words.
It’s sad to see how little empathy you have for others. I found myself suffering from depression when and a seven-year-old child died in my swimming pool. I found myself suffering from depression when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Recently I found myself suffering from depression when my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer and we have three small children that need their father. Some people suffer from depression from pro longed sadness of their childhood it just sticks to you and becomes part of the Fiber of who you are. For me I know I can explain my depression as feeling sadness for so long that I forgot what happiness ever felt like. And even in events or times where everything seems OK and I feel stupid for feeling tired and down I can’t help it I have felt this sadness for so long happiness is hard to attain. Depression is real and trust me no one wants to feel like crap for most of their life. It becomes an illness unfortunately. I do try to snap myself out of it and keep busy and remind myself that life is good, It takes a lot of honest effort. Kev, before you judge someone You should try stepping in their shoes and maybe you could help someone instead of hurting them. Imagine if I just told you Someone you love dearly will die today imagine caring that sadness always regardless of how great your life may seem, that’s the depression many people feel on a daily basis.
I have the same sense of life as yourself. Today is Saturday here. I started the day at 10 am! Breakfast, then tidied the house, did the washing and the usual Weekend tasks. But inwardly just sensing, there must be more to life than this.,
Local time here 4.11 in the afternoon, soon I will go out and get my washing off the line, just where has the day gone?
My Doctor simply said remain on your current prescription, it all appears to be going well for you.
But inwardly, I feel that I should be doing more, but just cant get the energy to do anything.
If I do find a sudden urge to complete a task, I start it, if all goes well, I feel ok. But should things not go good, I simply give up, and return to my dismal self and fall further into the depths of depression!
I hope I have not interrupted you, but just wanted to tell you the you are not the only person in the world in this situation!
Thanks, at least I now know that I am not the only "pleb" on the world! suffering this situation.
Keep smiling and may God Bless you.