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What You Think Is Laziness Could Actually Be Depression

Laziness and depression can look a lot alike, but they're very different. Do you feel guilty for being lazy? Could it really be depression? Learn more here.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.

9 thoughts on “What You Think Is Laziness Could Actually Be Depression”

  1. I finished high school with a bad percentage and thus had decided to drop a year to prepare well for getting into the college of my dreams. I have been studying religiously but over the last couple of months I just can’t bring myself to study anymore. I just feel tired and even though I want to, I just bring myself to work anymore. I know the stakes are high, yet I just can’t work and I end up trying to distract myself. I promise myself every night that the next day I’ll work again but I never seem to able to do it. I don’t know if I’m being lazy or If I’m actually depressed and this indecision is not helping either… what is wrong with me?

    1. Hi AJ,

      I am very sorry that you are having trouble studying. 🙁 I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you. I can certainly relate to the lack of motivation. My motivation really started to decline around this time of the year. Perhaps it was the weather, as it always changes and affects my mood.

      In the morning, has your mood changed from day to day? If your mood and motivation have been low in the morning, those things probably affect the rest of your day. However, I am not a professional. That is just my thought.

      Do you have friends, teachers, and/or family who might be able to help you? Perhaps they can relate as well and give you study tips.

      From the sound of it, you certainly have ambition. Even those with ambition get dry spells. You can do it! The best words a friend of mine said to me: “If you care, you’ll do well.” Please seek the right kind of help. Let me know how everything goes. 🙂

  2. Hi Melanie, I understand. Ive had depression for twenty five years and thete are days that all i do is sleep to not have to deal with life. I hope u get help and get better.

  3. I just seem to get trapped in my thoughts. I am being forced into selling my house. The thought of this paralyses me. I have a churning in my stomach. I have managed to be productive but sometimes I fail at this. Simple tasks feel nearly impossible. I risk losing even more than I already have but sometimes I will just lie there trapped in depression. People can be so judgemental assuming I am lazy. I try to do a task every hour, even if it’s a small task. I have to go out tomorrow and I am dreading it. It takes all my strength and I have a fear of going out. I just want to sleep all the time and force myself to sleep by just lying there with my eyes closed. I use it as a way to escape harsh reality. I am deeply unhappy and I want to die but I can’t leave my pets. I like the dreams of still being in the home that I have lost.

    1. Melanie, I just wanted to tell you that you aren’t alone. I’ve struggled with these same thoughts and feelings for the last year. I can’t seem to find joy in anything anymore. I’ve lost interest in pretty much everything. I feel guilty about being “lazy” yet I have to force myself to do things and it’s so exhausting.

    2. Hi Melanie,

      I sincerely apologize for the late response. It was very courageous of you to share your struggles on here. So thank you for taking the time to do that.

      It’s great that you try to do at least one task every hour. Any amount of progress helps, even if it’s just a little bit. Every accomplishment gets you one step closer to wellness. In regards to feeling “trapped in depression,” I completely understand this. I have been struggling with it quite a bit lately. When this happens, I try to remind myself that I have gotten through it before; I can get through it again.

      Have things improved for you? How is your support system?

      -Martha

    3. Hey Melanie, and everyone else…you’re not alone. I feel depressed and constantly have thoughts of suicide, but I am afraid of the pain of dying. I want it to be quick, but don’t have the means. I just reached one year of sobriety on March 1st from over a decade long addiction to heroin. I got clean and gained a lot of weight from the meds I’m taking, and from not being productive. All I do is sleep, and I also have horrible social anxiety. I have no friends, just a boyfriend, and him and I don’t really talk. I try, but he is a very quiet person by nature, which makes it very hard to connect. I’m afraid I’ll die this way – alone and depressed…but I feel I was just not mesnt for this world. I don’t really have anything in common with anyone in it. I feel like people are horrible beings. Judgemental, violent, over-sexualized beings that care about materialism, power, greed, and money way too much. It breaks my heart. I feel there must be another world out there for people like us. Maybe this is some sort of purgatory, I don’t really know. I hope we can all find the hope and strength to get better. I hope we find happiness, or at least contentment someday. I wish you were here so thst we could relate to one another. I sincerely wish the best for us all. – Amy

      1. Amy, I just want to congratulate you on a year of sobriety. You are so strong for getting through that. And with such a life change, I get how you could be depressed. I hope you can find someone to talk to, you deserve to be heard. If your boyfriend isn’t filling that role, hopefully you can find a good therapist. We all need to be heard. I hear you.

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