Can boredom lead to depression? (a correlational investigatory approach)

In the following article, we will aim to answer the question “can boredom lead to depression?”; also gain an insight on what is boredom and how to cope with it.

Can boredom lead to depression?

Yes, there is a possibility that boredom may be a reason for depression. 

As remarked by Kierkegaard, boredom is “the root of all evil.” In psychology, boredom is considered an emotional state in which a person is doing nothing, has lack of interest and difficulty in concentrating on an activity.

Boredom is considered the root of all evil because at times it may be the cause of negative thoughts and pessimistic imaginations. When your mind lacks interest in a current activity, you may attend to various negative ideas and assumptions which further may lead you to end up with utter disparity and depression. There is a possibility if someone is chronically bored, he or she might end up taking drugs, alcohol and compulsive gambling.

On the other side, people who are depressed also suffer from extreme boredom and lack of interest in daily activities. 

The correlation between boredom and depression can be further investigated as follows.

Symptoms of boredom:

  • inadequate rest or nutrition
  • low levels of mental stimulation
  • lack of choice or control over your daily activities
  • lack of diversified recreational interests
  • poor perception of time

Why do we get bored?

There are various reasons for us getting bored.

Monotony : 

Our mind does not like monotony. If you are asked to do the same task everyday, how will you find it? Interesting? Obviously not. Monotonous activity may make us bored and uproot motivation from it thus causing boredom.  Any kind of experience that is foreseeable and repetitive becomes boring. In general, too much of the same thing and too little stimulation can cause in its victim an absence of desire and a feeling of entrapment (Toohey, 2012).    

Out of capacity :

If a 5 years old is given a task to understand and solve higher order statistics, considering he or she is not interested in learning it, it will obviously become impossible for him or her to grab the concept. Any task that is too difficult makes us lose interest towards it thus becoming boring.

Need for variety :

We all need some kind of external motivation to some extent to get rid of mundanity. There are some individuals whose need for novelty and variety are so much that they get bored very easily. 

These people seek more excitement, risk and diversification in certain aspects of life and that is their way of not falling into the trap of boredom.

Lack of attention

People who suffer from ADHD(attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have problems with exercising their attention in a particular activity for a moderate time span. The problem in attention or lack of attention may make a person bored and disinterested. 

In a research done by James Danckert, PhD, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, it was found that people who suffer from adhd may have greater tendencies to experience extreme boredom and depression.(Experimental Brain Research, 2012).

Role of culture

Danckert says, the word “boring” as it’s used now didn’t even enter common parlance until the industrial revolution gave us time to spare. “Early on in human history, when our ancestors had to spend most of their days securing food and shelter, boredom wasn’t an option,” he says.

With the passage of time and advancement of culture, we are getting inclined to use artificial intelligence and various gadgets that are making our work easier.

In olden days, our ancestors had to spend most of the time getting food and making shelter for their family. There was no chance of them getting bored. With time and days, changes in our values and ideals are making us more lazy, dependent and bored.

Lack of inner resources :

The need for novelty is a common phenomenon of every human mind. It is very important for us to quench this need not only from external resources but also from inner resources. The exterior is not a constant and predictable source of fulfilling the need of novelty. Take the pandemic into consideration, the worldwide lockdown made us bored. People could not go out shopping, movies, cycling, meeting friends or visiting concerts thus restricting our external sources of motivation. 

Getting entertained with Inner resources like singing songs, writing journal, meditating, exercising can compensate for the boredom caused due to lack of external sources. If you cannot go out and attend a concert, sit back at home and sing along with your ukulele.

Therefore lack of inner resources may make us bored and depend more on exterior sources of motivation.

Are you bored or it is depression?

Boredom and depression may be quite similar in experience but they are two very different concepts. 


Do not come down to the conclusion that you are depressed when it is just boredom . For that, it is very essential to understand the difference between depression and boredom. 

Depression is a mental disorder where a person is suffering from a low mood, unhappiness and hopelessness. Symptoms of depression may include not being able to do daily activities, being socially awkward, excessive sleep, false beliefs, paranoia, lack of sleep,Loss of interest or pleasure in doing things that were once fulfilling,Increased feelings of fatigue, more days than not,Recurring thoughts of death or of others dying or feelings of worthlessness. 

Boredom is just an experience of lack of stimulation, such as being bored at a lecture.

Boredom is not depression. It is normal to be bored at times but depression is a disorder and needs treatment. 

How is boredom dangerous at times

Even though boredom is a natural experience, at times it may take a toll on our cognitive condition. 

According to psychoanalysts, boredom is a feeling of anger and hostility that one turns against their own selves. Studies in 1990 proves has supported this hypothesis too.

People who are bored may engage themselves in stimulations like, addiction, drugs, gambling and excessive sexual activities. In fact, the book Alcoholic Anonymous suggests that yearning and boredom leads to addiction towards alcohol. Research suggests that the main cause of teenagers depending more on alcohol and drugs is boredom.

Can boredom cause depression?

A type of boredom, in which the person may experience no interest in anything in life, also known as existential boredom, may make a person feel depressed.In this case, people feel that their life is meaningless and end up getting depressed. Existential boredom is characterized by anhedonia which is a sign of depression.

Anhedonia is a condition that shows symptoms like:

  • social withdrawal
  • a lack of relationships or withdrawal from previous relationships
  • negative feelings toward yourself and others
  • reduced emotional abilities, including having less verbal or nonverbal expressions
  • difficulty adjusting to social situations
  • a tendency toward showing fake emotions, such as pretending you’re happy at a wedding
  • a loss of libido or a lack of interest in physical intimacy
  • persistent physical problems, such as being sick often

The person who suffers from existential boredom for a long period of time may experience depression too.

Not finding meaning and satisfaction in anything, is a serious condition and it is very important to refute existential boredom, or else the person might suffer from depression.

Ways to cope with boredom :

Trying something new

Our need for novelty drags us to search for variation in every aspect of life. Trying something new can quench within us the need of novelty and variation. You can try out new cooking recipes, new ways of playing the same song in your guitar, a new combination of outfits. 

Trying out new things will not only help you get rid of boredom but also make you knowledgeable, healthy and aware.

Socialize 

Take out some time to connect and socialize with your friends and family to get rid of your busy mundane schedule. 

Look at old photos and memories. This may help you connect with your old self and not get bored easily.

Make routines, change them often

To get a meaning out of life, it is essential to have a routine and maintain it. Consider the lockdown; people got so bored initially because of lack of routine and discipline. 

The same old routine may make you bored. In that case, modifying routines is also necessary. If your routine has exercise in the morning, make it in the evening for a change. 

Routines will help you find a purpose and not let you become bored.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusion:

From the article above, an answer to the question “ can boredom lead to depression” was derived. A correlation between boredom and depression has been gathered as a conclusion.

We understood how boredom is caused; how depression can be caused due to boredom and how to cope with boredom. 

We hereby conclude that boredom can be a cause for depression. A specific kind of boredom named existential boredom is responsible for causing anhedonia which is a symptom of depression. Depression is a mental disorder characterizing boredom. But the two are not the same. It is important to get professional help if someone is suffering from chronic boredom to understand if it is depression or just boredom and get treatment likewise.

FAQs:Can boredom lead to depression ?

Is chronic boredom a mental illness?

Chronic boredom has to be attended to. Boredom is not a mental illness, but if you see that you are suffering from boredom that is hampering your daily activities and making you feel worthless, sad and disinterested in everything, then that has to be diagnosed and treated. 

How does boredom affect mental health?

Boredom makes a person lazy which may affect their cognitive abilities. People who suffer from depression suffer from boredom which may make them feel worthless and hopeless.

The need for novelty in humans makes us curious and thirsty for knowledge and experience. Boredom can make a person feel life is meaningless and may cause anhedonia at times. This may further lead to depression and despair. 

How do I relieve boredom?

There are various ways to relieve boredom as follows:

Build an Inner World, Seek Quality in the Now, accept and act likewise, unchain yourself, do new things, make and modify routines, plan ahead, nurture creativity.

Is boredom a sign of stress?

A new study said that other than the boring environment, boredom has more to do with stress.

Can boredom make you crazy?

Boredom can make you crazy in two ways: positive or negative. If you are getting bored you may indulge in thinking something extremely positive and creative. If boredom leads you to negative thoughts, it may even make you depressed.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201706/eight-reasons-why-we-get-bored

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/boredom-and-depression:-can-one-lead-to-the-other/

O’Connell, M.E., Boat, T., & Warner, K.E. (Eds.). (2009) Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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