Laziness v/s Depression (are you confusing the two?)

Laziness v/s depression

Many people who suffer from depression, initially end up thinking they have just become lazy as depression often ends up making us unproductive. However, depression is a serious mental illness,  which is often out of the control of those who suffer from it. On the other hand, laziness or being lazy is often a simple choice. It is this choice that makes the two very different. Laziness lasting for a day or two should’t be confused with depression. 

Introduction

This blog will cover the differences between laziness and depression by first talking about what laziness and depression are, and then discussing why they are often confused. It will then highlight the various differences between the two constructs. 

What is laziness?

There is no clinical definition for laziness. It is usually seen as procrastination, or lethargy. It is an unwillingness to spend energy, or indulge in a task that we perceive to be difficult or uncontrollable. 

It can usually be explained by the phenomenon of instant gratification. Why work hard on a task, when you can simply relax! Partly due to evolution anything that isn’t seen as instantly rewarding isn’t considered significant enough to work hard for, or spend energy upon. 

This can in part explain why some individuals procrastinate until the last minute, because it is only near the time that the task needs to be completed/ submitted that you will derive a reward out of it, which motivates the person to go through with it. 

What is depression?

Depression is among the most prominent and leading mental illnesses around the globe. It is a persistent and pervasive feeling of sadness that causes clinically significant distress for a period longer than 2 weeks. Depression, like most mental illnesses, causes distress not only to the sufferer, but also those around him/her. 

Signs of mild depression:

  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Hopelessness 
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Extreme guilt, or low self esteem

Signs of severe depression:

  • Inability to focus or make decisions
  • No energy to undertale even daily activities
  • Suicidal ideation and thoughts
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Physical pains or gastric issues that have no somatic explanations
  • Memory and thinking problems like increased forgetfulness

If you or someone around you is suffering from any such symptoms, or is distressed over the feelings of sadness or frustration that you/ they feel, it is recommended that professional help be sought. 

Why do we end up confusing laziness with depression?

Depression may end up looking like laziness on the outside. A lazy person does not go through with their responsibilities or daily tasks if they aren’t instantly rewarding. 

A depressed person, not having the ability to perform the same tasks, may however end up coming off as lazy. Often, even the person suffering from depression initially mistakes their own actions as stemming from laziness instead of a genuine lack of interest and energy due to depression. 

Laziness is always seen and heard in a negative connotation, as a moral failing on the part of individuals to do the duties they were supposed to. The fact that depression is often confused with laziness, adds to the stigma around this disorder. The individuals suffering from depression end up feeling morally inferior because they are unable to complete their duties. 

How laziness and depression are different:

Although laziness and depression do have some similarities, there are a few differences that set them apart as well. Depression might initially feel like you are just being lazy about your daily activities.

The main difference between the two is that of choice. While we can choose to be lazy or do something tomorrow or later because we simply don’t feel like it, we can not choose to be depressed or not to be depressed. 

Depression does not seek your permission, it usually evades awareness as well until it becomes hard to ignore. Being lazy shouldn’t be confused with the all pervasive feeling that depression is. 

While laziness can last for a day or two, depression may last for weeks or even months. Laziness is a passing mood that can come and go, whereas depression is more persistent in nature.

While you can reason and will yourself out of feeling lazy, it is not possible to do the same with depression. Depression cannot be reasoned with or willed against, it doesn’t have that ability. 

When you’re being lazy, you still care about the responsibilities you are evading and worry about them. But when you are depressed, these responsibilities or tasks just don’t matter or interest you anymore. 

Tips to overcome laziness:

Laziness often stems from a need for instant gratification. Keeping that in mind the following tips may help you overcome laziness:

  • Take the difficult tasks, and dissect them into a few small tasks. This may make the fear of failure go away, and make indulgence in relatively easier tasks more likely
  • Reward yourself for the small tasks that you do. These rewards can be small like your favourite food, or drink followed by the task. 
  • Make to do lists for yourself, and make a timetable that you stick by. Make sure this time table is actually practical.
  • Set practical goals with clear cut ways of how to achieve them, instead of abstract goals.
  • Give yourself some time to relax. Often, laziness stems from burnout, where after being exhausted you don’t feel like doing anything. Make sure that you give yourself adequate time off to avoid feeling lethargic. 

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

In this blog, we discussed the differences between laziness and depression. We started by looking at what laziness and depression mean, then we looked at why they may be confused. Finally, we highlighted how they are very different from each other. We ended the blog by discussing some tips to overcome laziness. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Laziness v/s Depression

Is laziness a mental disorder?

No, it is not a mental disorder. It is a tendency to avoid tasks, or an unwillingness to perform them which could be due to a variety of reasons like fear of failure, need for instant gratification etc. 

Is there a disorder for being too lazy?

While laziness in itself is not a disorder, many clinical disorders may present with symptoms that seem like laziness due to a lack of energy or interest. An example of the same is depression. 

What is the number one cause of depression?

There is no clear cut single cause of depression. It can be due to a  variety of risk factors like genetics, psychological stressors, substance intake, chronic pain etcetera. 

Why have I become so lazy?

Sometimes, laziness can be due to a poor lifestyle, like a poor deity that doesn’t give you enough nutrition or energy, poor sleep, lack of motivators or purpose etc. 

What can cure laziness?

Laziness is not a disease or disorder that can be cured. However, it can be prevented or controlled by setting motivators for yourself, like small rewards, and making the difficult tasks easier by dividing them into smaller relatively easier parts. 

What should I eat to avoid laziness?

Laziness might sometimes stem from not having food that gives you enough energy. Eat balanced meals that give you rough nutrition and energy to go through the tasks you set for yourself. Lots of vegetables and fruits might help with the same and they contain enzymes that help with cellular metabolism. 

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

[1]. Maniaci M., (2019) Depression is not Laziness. Invisible Illness. 

[2]. Am I depressed or just sad? (n.d.) Hello Doctor. 

[3]. Growth extended (2018) Is it laziness or depression? How to tell the difference? 

[4]. Schuster S., (2018) 9 things people with depression do that seem lazy but aren’t. The mighty. 

[5]. Sastry S.V.R., (2018) What is the difference between depression and laziness? Quora. 

[6]. Grohol, J.M., (2018) Am I depressed or just lazy? PsychCentral. 

[7]. Ackerman, C.E., (2020) What is Instant Gratification?Positive Psychology. com

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