What You Think Is Laziness Could Actually Be Depression

July 9, 2017 Martha Lueck

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 him 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.

APA Reference
Lueck, M. (2017, July 9). What You Think Is Laziness Could Actually Be Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Martha Lueck

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Souada Mohamed
February, 14 2019 at 10:40 am

Hi...I'm Souada, these days I don't know what's been going on with me. I feel like I'm super lazy but usually, when I'm lazy it doesn't last a few weeks or so like it is now. It's been really interfering with my education, and I don't know if it's depression or not, because the last time I recall certainly being depressed was being super lazy but at the same time, I trapped in my thoughts. So maybe that wasn't depression, I don't know I'm just really lost right now, and looking for an immediate response, thank you.

March, 10 2019 at 9:45 am

Hi Souada,
I’m very sorry for the late response and what you have been going through! :( It definitely sounds like depression. Have you talked to anyone about it? I have found the Crisis Hotline to be very helpful.
Again, I’m really sorry for the late response! I hope you feel better soon!

November, 5 2018 at 5:54 pm

i'm in my third year of college now but i seem lacking in motivation to continue. i notice i fell behind my classmates, missed assignments, and skipped class a lot but i can't be bothered to fix it. i just feel tired everyday and want to sleep a lot even tough i'm not sleepy. i too cry a lot and have suicidal tendencies. it's rainy season now in my country so my condition is even worse. but is it depression? or i'm just finding excuses to procrastinate?

November, 6 2018 at 4:02 pm

Hi Alexandra,
I'm really sorry to hear about your motivation. It must be really hard. :( It's great that you're in your third year of college, though! So you obviously care and have worked hard. You've had motivation. So you can get it back.
I had low motivation during my last year of college, especially when the weather was bad. But with good help from friends, family, and a counselor, I got through it. I hope that gives you some encouragement.
Good luck!

October, 21 2018 at 2:26 am

My son just said to me, “Yeah, you have all the Medical problems and I know you’re depressed, but tell the Truth.
You’re Lazy. It’s an excuse to do nothing.”
I’m willing to do ANYTHING to be motivated to do SOMETHING. I didn’t even challenge his really hurtful remark - why bother?
Nobody believes depression is real till we’re dead / in the Hospital (failed suicide attempts,) and THEN we’re “Selfish.”
Right. Nobody would choose this, and anyone who “Faked” depression would go nuts trying.
Whatever. More guilt - yay!

October, 26 2018 at 11:13 pm

Hi Dawna,
I'm really sorry to hear about your son's hurtful remark. Unfortunately, people who have not experienced major depression may find it really difficult to empathize with those who do. But that does not justify mean comments about mental health conditions.
If I may ask, how old is your son?

December, 10 2018 at 9:17 pm

My daughter (17) just said the same thing to me today. “You’re lazy and I’m sick of it”.
This confirms to me that I am a burden to my family.

July, 23 2018 at 5:15 am

Oh wow. Thanks to your article somehow I was able to figure out what I was feeling... I've been missing work for a week now and everytime I think about what I would be doing there it makes getting out of bed a struggle. I really mean struggle... and I was starting to think about my worth and how would the people at work would react. I really wanted to resign for over a year now but due to my financial situation I wasnt able to do so... and it started taking toll on me like I;m wondering will I ever get out of this job.

July, 23 2018 at 9:44 am

Hi Starry,
I'm glad that this helped you figure out what you were feeling. I'm so sorry to hear about your job and financial struggles. :( Depression can be EXTREMELY draining and affect every aspect of your life, especially your job. I've been there.
Have you applied for any other jobs? Do you have any family members or friends outside of work in whom you can confide? Having a strong support system can help a lot!

April, 18 2018 at 9:25 am

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?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 19 2018 at 10:46 am

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. :)

March, 10 2018 at 10:24 pm

Thank you Amy, finally someone like me. I wish people could be kinder, you know what I mean?

October, 20 2017 at 6:49 am

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.

September, 13 2017 at 4:17 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 21 2017 at 3:28 pm

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 24 2017 at 7:43 pm

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?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Amy Christensen
March, 7 2018 at 12:11 am

Hey Melanie, and everyone'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

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 15 2018 at 1:42 pm

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 6 2019 at 10:53 am

Hi Amy, I see it's been a year since your post and I can't help but wonder how you are doing now. Do you have an apdate? I am hoping you are more well than when you wrote this. I have been where you were at time you wrote this and I know how scary that is.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 6 2019 at 11:25 am

Hi Amy,
First of all, I am very sorry for the super late response! :( Thank you for sharing your struggles with us.
I am very sorry that you were in such a dark place. I really hope things are better for you now. Have you made any friends?
I completely agree with what you said about people being so materialistic and greedy. You seem to be a very empathetic person, which is great! Empathy is something that this world needs. Unfortunately, a lot of people lack it or just don’t feel comfortable expressing it. So thank you. You’re a light for so many people. You are loved.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 9 2019 at 12:57 am

I cant really relate to this since I am just 11 years old,but I do the same thing like I never left my bed for years when I didn't have school..And I think I am depressed..whenever I see a rope,I have thins feeling I should die cuz I am worthless,empty and waste of space in the world..Well,I didn't really get psychological help...

March, 10 2019 at 8:26 am

Hi I’m sorry your going threw that. Please tell your parents or a teacher how you feel. Don’t keep it quite don’t keep it balled up inside talk about it to a loved one. I know it can be hard but you are only 11 you have your whole life ahead of you. Please Please Please talk to a therapist or loved one. You will get better I promise

Martha Lueck
March, 10 2019 at 10:04 am

Hi Anonymous,
I’m very sorry for the late response and that you are experiencing so much intense depression! :( Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate against age. I feel that with social media and so many young people using mobile devices, it can be easier to feel depressed and/or anxious. It seems as though there is much more online interaction than face-to-face communication. That can make a lot of people feel lonely. Social media causes a lot of people to compare themselves to their peers. Do you use social media? If so, how often do you use it? That can definitely contribute to depression.
I know that it’s been awhile since you posted on here. Have you talked to your parents or a therapist about your depression? I hope you get the help you need!

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