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
Dear Kev man,
I haven't seen any of your earlier comments but read some of the bloggers reactions to them. After reading this particular comment, I sense you have resentment towards people with mental and emotional difficulties which perhaps hints at your personal past hurts that you may have endured, or emotional frustrations you are currently dealing with. In the first place, the website HealthyPlace.com is a consumer mental health site, providing information on mental health disorders and psychiatric medications from both a consumer and expert point of view. Kev man, so what triggers you to spend the time navigating through such a website?
In the second instance, I have noticed in individuals that early symptoms of depression are very, very, very subtle. Therefore sometimes, the symptoms of depression are hidden and not seen in an individual's outward behaviour but is revealed within their sarcastic, cynical or derogatory comments about people who seem weaker or different.
The ability to get up and go about one's day does not seem like a privilege when you are able to carry out your responsibilities. Kev man, it's great that you can. But when symptoms from depression are triggered, it creeps into the psyche and can take up residence there like a squatter! To someone dealing with problems that affect the mind and emotions, the ability to get up and go is a privilege because doing simple tasks can become very overwhelming.
As I have matured I realize that a conflicted mind will find ways to point out the 'faults' of others in order to distract from real anguish and frustrations occuring within their own mind. Often people will hide the intensity of their moods or feelings choosing instead to deny them, plod along and get on with life, regardless of the red flags.
And kev man, it is those individuals who deny the early warning signs of depression, choosing instead to be tough and act resillient on the outside, yet on the inside (emotionally/mentally) something is happening.
Coming to terms with and accepting yourself (warts and all) is a good place as you explore your needs on the inside as well as the outside. Positive websites can also provide a supportive environment that allows the anonymity to explore different themes and offer support and useful links for individuals to notice the signs and triggers of mental health difficulties as well as strategies to help cope with highly emotional episodes or phases. Bloggers on this site share their experiences which can be comforting to others who are dealing with similar issues.
To sum up, expressing intolerance of, as well as negative comments about people who are dealing with depression on a website such as this hints to me that you are in conflict. Moreover Kev man, your replies about people with depression are in my opinion an indirect and 'silent' cry for help. Best wishes to you on your journey
1) search for this information.
2) sign up for an account.
3) write a comment that you knew could cause serious, and potentially life threatening, problems for the people reading it.
That is a pretty extreme effort to go to.
Beth, during depressive episodes, I tend to over spend and use retail therapy as temporary comfort. I get paid every two weeks. Every pay is different, but I know the baseline amount. I give every dollar a place to go. All my bills are written down and assigned before their due date to the paycheck closest to it. For example, I got paid 10th & 24th of april. April 10th paid all bills due 11th-25th and the 24th will pay all bills due 26th-may 2nd...etc etc. To start forcing myself to save, I have automatic deposit of an affordable amount to a credit union with the worst hours ever and no ATM card. It's a pain to go there, and so the money stays. I was procrastinating my bills to avoid feeling more depressed, but was getting behind and getting snowballed. So this worked for me. I have a dated chart with vertical payday columns and horizontal bill rows. I hope this helps.
I'm depressed. I can't be the only one. What are
Some suggestions about maintaining my finances
My whole thought pattern revolves around
"I'll do it tomorrow...really I will." And then I don't.