Can boredom cause depression?

In this article, the feeling of boredom and its relation to depression will be discussed. The article will explain what is boredom and what causes people to get bored, along with that it will answer if and how boredom is connected to depression. By the end of it, it will be given a guideline on how to deal with feeling bored and depressed.

What is boredom?

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Boredom is a common human emotion, it is shown in previous research that an average person can feel boredom quite frequently in their life.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, boredom is defined as feeling unhappy because something is not interesting or because you have nothing to do.

Psychologically feeling bored is what happens when a person feels they have energy but can’t identify a place to put their energy in. This can happen because the person doesn’t feel mentally stimulated by what’s surrounding them.

Each person may recognize boredom differently, but it usually feels as if, for a brief period, a person can’t find any interests to direct energy to but, at the same time, they are unable to relax.

During that time, the person might not feel excited about things that would normally be a concern. When bored a person has difficulty in staying motivated to do a new activity.

So, can boredom lead to depression?

It is a complex affirmative to say that boredom can lead to depression. Although research done by Sommers and Vodanovih in 2000 showed that being bored is related to the presence of obsessive-compulsive behavior, somatization, anxiety, depression, and interpersonal sensitivity, it is important to set apart the feeling of boredom from the apathy that comes with depression.

As boredom is defined as a brief moment with a lack of stimulation, the person that is experiencing only boredom might feel connected to other things and experiences after some time.

Depression is a mental illness that has at its center feelings of sadness, apathy, lack of perspective, and hope. A person is depressed when they feel those emotions for a prolonged period, being that the World Health Organization says those symptoms have to be present for at least two weeks so a person can be considered depressed.

So boredom can lead to depression when the person doesn’t find a way to direct their energy to new stimulation, and once that becomes more and more frequent, it can lead to depression. 

On the other hand, a constant feeling of boredom that won’t go away even with new stimulation can be a sign a person is depressed. What will determine if that’s what is happening is how often does the person feels bored.

It is important to highlight that boredom is not always a negative feeling. At some moments in life, and to some people, boredom can be a great instrument to learning new things. Some people when bored might decide to try new job opportunities, a new activity and open themselves up to the unexpected.

When that is the case, a person should be aware to not act impulsively, this sensation-seeking behavior some people have, although it opens them to new possibilities it can also be a behavior that can put a person in danger. 

Research has shown that people that have more sensation-speaking behavior tend to be prone to develop alcohol and drug abuse problems and expose themselves to risky situations.

What are healthy and good ways one can deal with boredom?

Dealing with boredom might not always be easy but dealing with it since childhood is important because it can be a way for one to develop a tolerance to frustration and better problem-solving abilities.

When bored, one should try to embrace and think of ways to direct that energy. Here are good ones one can deal with boredom:

Change how you feel about boredom

When thinking of boredom people usually associate it with a negative feeling and moment. Instead, it can be thought of as a moment to dive into yourself, think of new possibilities in your life, discover new things that might excite you.

-Use your creativity

You can find activities that let out your creative side, it can be writing, drawing, or even dancing. But putting your creativity to work may be a way out of boredom and who knows, it might open a new area of interest.

Don’t use your phone as a way out of boredom

When people are bored, the first thing they tend to do is go to their phone, which is a big problem. Looking at your phone won’t bring you a new direction to put your energy in, instead, it will only underline the boredom of the moment you are trying to escape from.

Try something new

Boredom comes from a lack of mental stimulation, so a good way to avoid it is by trying to do new things. Open yourself up to new hobbies, a new skill, or practicing a new sport. By opening yourself up for new experiences you can feel happier and discover a new life purpose.

Connect with people

Meeting loved ones or friends can be a great way to deal with boredom. It can give you a chance to talk, share your thoughts and experiences with them and put your energy into that encounter. So meeting people you love will not only give you a direction to put your energy in, but it can also give you a sense of belonging.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ): Can boredom cause depression?

What effects does boredom have on the brain?

According to research done by Perone and colleagues in 2019 with 54 people, analyzing the wave of the right and left part of people’s frontal lobe showed that people that tend to feel bored more frequently had higher left-side brain activity. 

On the other hand, while observing people that knew better how to cope with feeling bored, it was possible to see a higher brain activity on the right side. Those people were usually ones that were more proactive in finding new stimuli when faced with boredom.

In what period in life is it more common to get bored?

Through research, it is possible to affirm that boredom happens with Hightower frequency between school-aged kids, teenagers and in recent years it has grown among the elder population.

It is possible to say that boredom may be present mostly in teens because of sensation-seeking. Teenagers are in an experimenting phase, in that period in life there is a great search for new feelings, possibilities, and paths. 

There is a healthy part to this boredom, as it can move the teenager to seek new hobbies and experiences, but it is important to be aware that this can also lead to the search and experimentation of drugs and alcohol.

As to the older populations, they might feel boredom more frequently because of the lack of new possibilities in their lives. Elderly people are usually retired, living a routine life, and that can cause one to be bored. To help deal with boredom at that moment in life it is important to open yourself up to doing new things that aren’t planned.

Can being bored cause laziness?

Although some people might mix up boredom and laziness, it is of main importance to understand the difference between both emotions. Laziness is when a person doesn’t have the energy to put effort into anything. On the other hand, when someone is bored they have the energy to invest in something, the question is not knowing where to direct that energy.

How do I know if I’m a boring person?

Although it is important to be careful with that type of question because no one should worry about pleasing everyone, one can say that a boring person can be someone that is usually inexpressive, doesn’t engage in the conversation, may keep the interaction to the superficial level.

It might also be someone that is too set in their ways, often predictable. People that usually express mostly negative aspects of things can be boring and the ones that are usually too self-centered as well. They don’t give room for other people to speak their minds or show interest in other people’s thoughts.

Why do some people get bored easier than others?

Since boredom is an emotion, even though everyone might feel it, people will experience it in different levels and forms. This, like any other feeling, is related to your life’s history, your environment, and your psychological condition.

Nowadays, when all of us are exposed to so much information all the time, it would be possible to think that people wouldn’t get bored, but it is quite the contrary. At the beginning of mankind, people would be occupied mostly with surviving, and the activities could take a long time.

In modern times, we have trouble focusing on one single activity at a time, and when we don’t pay attention to what is being done we tend to become bored more easily. since our brain won’t be stimulated by such activity.

CONCLUSION

In this article, it was revealed what boredom is, what may cause people to feel it, and how everyone experiences it in different ways.

It showed that although being bored is not necessarily a cause for depression, it can happen that the lack of interest related to it if it goes on for a more prolonged period, can indicate that a person is suffering from depression.

Aside from that, the article explained what are the benefits of learning how to deal with boredom, showing it can be a great way to learn about problem-solving skills. And what one can do to stimulate themselves when bored.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the space below.

REFERENCES

Sommers J, Vodanovich SJ. Boredom proneness: it’s relationship to psychological and physical-health symptoms. J Clin Psychol. 2000; 56:149-155.

Sammy Perone, Elizabeth H. Weybright, Alana J. Anderson. Over and over again: Changes in frontal EEG asymmetry across a boring task. Psychophysiology, 2019; e13427 DOI: 10.1111/psyp.13427

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