Laziness and depression can look almost alike, but they’re very different states of being. For example, every once in awhile, you will have a lazy day. After you come home from work, you might neglect doing laundry and crawl into bed instead. Maybe you’ll turn on Netflix, have a snack, and fall asleep. It feels nice, right? We all need the rest. But what does it mean when one or two lazy days turns into a few lazy weeks? Is it laziness or depression?
Depression and Feeling Guilty for Laziness
Some symptoms of depression include decreased energy and guilt. For many people (especially those who are very committed to work and/or family), fatigue can occur followed by guilt.Here’s an example of someone who probably suffers depression but worries that she’s simply lazy.
Sally works 10-hour shifts and then has to pick her children up from school. Usually, she enjoys her job and spending time with her children. But after about 10 years as a mother and 12 years as an employee at the same job, she gradually notices her energy decrease. She starts to call off work and arrives late to pick up her children. Her boss threatens to fire her as it appears that she no longer wants to work. Her children complain about her being late and assume that she just does not care.
Sally does not know how to respond to her boss or her children, as this really is not like her. The truth is, she does want to do her job, but she is lacking the motivation and doesn’t know why. Sally does care about her kids, of course. “So what can it be?” she wonders. “Am I just lazy? Maybe I need to get off my butt and do something.”
Like Sally, many of us feel guilty for being lazy. We want to be responsible, resilient, and in full control of our wellness.
I Feel Like Sally
During the last week-and-a-half or so, I have felt completely fatigued. I have spent days in bed sleeping and/or watching Netflix. There have been very few evenings I have actually seen the sunset. Most days, my meals have consisted of pure junk food. I am sure that a lot of my bad habits have to do with my weird work schedule. But the harsh, self-defeating side of me says that this is all my fault. I think to myself that I am just lazy. I need to stop sleeping so much and write more. Over and over, I just think about what I need to do.
It’s Not Laziness, It’s Depression
As I was writing this article, I realized that I have not been lazy. I have gone to work every day. I have finished my articles by the deadline and just gotten it done, whatever it was.
Yes, to the average person, these might not seem like things that should make me feel proud. These are responsibilities. But I am proud because I have found that I have been productive, even during depression.
Depression’s Feelings of Laziness and Guilt Require Understanding and Support
If your loved one seems lazy, please know that this could be depression. If it is, he or she needs your support. It can often feel tempting to yell at him or her to get up and do something. But that is not easy for hi or her. He or she feel guilty enough as it is.
If you think you might have depression, try to talk to just one person about it (friend, family member, etc.). If the very idea of reaching out makes you feel uncomfortable, it might help to make a list of ways in which you have been productive during your depression (I Can’t Reach Out, I’m Depressed). Sometimes having written evidence for productivity can change your view on laziness.