Thursday, October 23, 2008

Depressed or Lazy?

I wrote this post, Am I Depressed or Just Lazy, some time ago. At the time it was really a rhetorical question. I believed that I was about equal doses of each. The post was really about me trying to poke myself into action. If one admits a personal foible in public then he will be more conscious of it and therefore more corrective of it in the future, right?

But perhaps I'm not as lazy as I thought. Perhaps I'm more depressed than I've believed. Here's why I say that. That little post has become one of the most popular on the blog thanks to search engines. And it turns out that a lot of people have this same question, "Am I depressed or lazy?"

I've been noticing this for months and wondering what I could do about it. I'm certainly not equipped to deal with anyone else's problems nor would I presume to offer advice but I know how to find some people who are so equipped. So I thought I'd track down a blogging psychologist that might answer some questions about this issue. Should be interesting reading and it might even help some of those readers that find The Pursuit of Happiness after trying to resolve their own laziness vs. depressiveness.

So help me out. I jotted down a few questions but they don't seem to get to the root of it:
Where does this question come from? What is the apparent connection that many of us feel between the symptoms of depression and simple laziness?

It strikes me that only a depressed person would come up with this question. Someone who is simply lazy would likely not confuse his or her “condition” with depression. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

What would you suggest to someone who is asking him or herself this question?

What else should I ask? And anyone know of a pro that could expertly answer these questions?

All suggestions welcome...


Jaynie said...

Hi Again!

This is something I've thought about also. I'm by no means a pro, but I can offer my angle on it.

I think there are two kinds of lazy that people can be. There's the "It's my first day off in 10 days, the kids are out of the house, and I'm sitting on the couch all day because I WANT TO" kind of lazy. Then there's the "I should be doing something else but I'm overwhelmed/afraid/depressed/resigned etc about it so I'm sitting here and I'm so LAZY" kind of lazy, which isn't really about laziness but avoidance.

Now, the main difference, I think, is that the first person is pretty much ok with being lazy. The second isn't, really, and they know it. And since people put so much emphasis on us being productive, while person one sees that their laziness is just an earned "break" person two is (possibly secretly) dwelling on it.

As relating to depression, I find myself pretty miserable anyway and not about to do anything that might actually make a difference, so I become quite sloth and then get mad at myself for being "lazy". But my problem is never with my inaction, it's with whatever is behind that inaction.

Maybe the main difference is just choice. I suppose when I'm depressed I don't experience laziness or inaction as a choice, it's just all I can do. And, prone to being hard on myself anyway, it's just something else that's now "wrong with me".

Annie Bankss said...

Depression is not laziness. But depression may cause laziness. We shud know that often people coondemn to those who r in depression as lazy but they are unable to understand that their mind and body is not in their control.

Ann C. Jorn, PhD said...

Hi, I think that depression and laziness can be differentiated by the quality of one's thoughts. I am a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapist trained by Albert Ellis the father of cognitive behavior therapy. Simply put if you are having those thoughts of 'my life is awful,' 'I can't stand the frustrations in my life' and 'I am a worthless loser' and other cheery thoughts you're probably leaning more toward depression. Also lets differentiate laziness from loss of motivation. Loss of motivation and loss of pleasure is very consistent with depression. While you may begin to have these feelings at the first stage of a depression flare they really become problematic when combined with the negative thinking. Another point, however, is worth noting. Albert Ellis noted that sometimes inactivity becomes a habit. Remember if habits were easy to break we would never form them in the first place. Also chronic inactivity tends to lead to depression in my experience with my patients. Boredom is not good for us. No surprise there. In short we all are lazy about particular things but when we are pervasively so there is likely depression underlying it.
Best DrJorn

Anonymous said...

I have been asking myself the same question, "Am I depressed...or lazy?" And, I believe that depression is the underlying cause of "laziness." I am not crazy about taking anti-depressants...and am wondering if it is true that 30 minutes of cardio exercise 3 times a week has the same effect as most low dosage anti depressants? Can a person with mild depression get better by exercising (without taking anti-depressents)?

The Pursuit of Happiness said...

With the obvious caveat that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about I'd say go for it, Anon. I've heard that exercise can help. And even if it doesn't have much effect on your depression you'll at least be healthier and that can't be a bad thing, right? Natural, healthy solutions ought to be tried before big pharm meds every time in my view.

toggs said...

hi, i was diagnosed with bipolar, but i believe that if you put your mind to certain things it will be done. self help therapy (my therapist gave me a list) to cope with depression. treat yourself as a child and try to clean (or whatever you're being lazy about) in a cheery way. make it fun. and if you have children, that should be even funner if you allow them to see you having fun in your chores. i tend to lean towards the biblical way of things.

Anonymous said...

Anon, as someone who is definately, diagnostically, depressed I want to tell you that if you're depressed you should take anti-depressants! I'm all about self help, but if you're actually chemically imbalanced you will fail and it will drive you lower and then you're try and again and fail again. And it repeats. Why would you fight the same battle over and over losing every time when you could have a weapon that makes the fight more even? In life you have to fight to be happy and successful and well balanced when you don't have a mental disorder. Even with medication it's a battle; why would you give up the only chance you have to be happy? You still need to exercise, eat right, work hard, save money, and be nice to people to find happiness...even when you're on anti-depressants, but at least they'll work.

Heather said...

I am on large prolonged doses of antidepressants - years of not working and now I am on disability. I feel shame and self hate for this all the time. I tried CBT but hated it and actively fought it for being so trite and ridiculous.

If you can manage CBT, it works. But for those of us who appear to be determined to be helpless (I have no idea why)we are still not lazy....we refuse to help ourselves.

This hurts us, those around us and the society we are in...draining emotionally, wearing out our relationships and costing the taxpayers money.

Feel loved
Be courageous
Have a set schedule
Get exercise

I wish you well.

buy kamagra said...

I think that laziness and depression are related somehow in the sense that we usually experience both feelings at a time

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that depression and laziness are related in the since that when your truly depressed you find yourself blaming your depression on laziness and your laziness on depression and trying to figure out why you cant find the strength to get anything done. Or do anything right for that matter. The laziness adds to the depression and the depression adds to the laziness. We beat ourselves up so much that we wind up sitting on the couch thinking for so long and arguing with ourselves so long that it wears us down even more. I tried zoloft for a while and I have been going to counseling but I still find myself in the same place from time to time. It truly is exhausting. What I would say that may help is try to find something that you enjoy doing and do it while you get things done. For example I like to crank on my favorite song and dance around the house while I clean. Yes my family looks at me funny at first but then they jump in and start dancing and cleaning too. The key is to at least try to stay strong and don't give up completely. If you physically can not push forward due to being so tired that you hurt, then curl up and take a nap set your alarm for an hour or two away and then get up and try again to get started. I find myself losing track of time so alarms help keep me stay on track. Good luck! I know its been a while since you posted this but I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I am in my early 30's & have been suffering with depression continually for 12 years. I have my good days & bad days. I struggle daily to get out of bed. It seems like I never get enough sleep & I can sleep well over 15 hours. When I get home from work I don't have the energy to do the things I should. I am currently taking anti-depressents & seeking therapy going on 2 years. I do see improvement & do believe that it can be controlled with self help books & affirmations. I hope this sheds light for some one.

Anonymous said...

I used to think I was depressed & lazy, but I actually have ADD. Some people might argue with the diagnosis, but the medication for ADD cured both my depression and most of my inability to get things done. Antidepressants did not work for me. If you have a persistent inability to finish things, or get stuck on mindless pursuits for hrs at a time, maybe check in ADD--you don't have to be a hyperactive 7 year old boy for the diagnosis to apply.

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody. I have been looking up articles like this for the past hour. I just want to know if I am being lazy or if I may have some underlying depression.

First of all I am a college student. For the past two weeks I have been having a major problem motivating myself to do anything. I haven't gone to ANY of my classes for the past two weeks. The weird thing is I didn't really realize it all till this morning. I don't understand how this can be.

All I remember is I had a screwed up sleeping schedule for the past two weeks. Sometimes being awake all night, all day, or somewhere in between, and sleeping on and off. It was VERY erratic. On the Thursday before the first week, I had classes and I couldn't motivate myself to go. It was almost a struggle. There was this part of myself saying, "Oh don't worry you don't have to go today. You have better things to do. You can just go next time. You don't feel well anyways." I partially won that day only missing my first two classes. However, It seems that this part of my mind telling me not to worry, and wait for the next time, took over. It started to effect me. It got worse and worse. To the point that I wasn't going to classes at all, doing my homework,keeping my apartment clean, taking showers, or even wanting to go out into public. Yesterday was the first time I had left the place in TWO WEEKS and it was to get food at 11:30 p.m. As I said before, I hadn't noticed it had gotten that bad until this morning.

I had been up all night doing basically nothing. I had finally decided to take a shower (The first in three days). In the middle of my shower it all suddenly hit me. I broke down. The guilt, the stress, and some feelings I can't describe fell on my shoulders like a ton of bricks. Crying uncontrollably hoping my roommates wouldn't hear me, I tried to hold back the tears.

I feel fine, as of now, but I don't know if I was being lazy and the episode this morning was from all the stress and guilt from realizing that I probably screwed up my whole semester, or if its the result of depression.

All of your input would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Hi, It is helpful to know that others are asking the same question. I have been on anti-drepression pills for over 5 years. I've had a couple breakdowns where on was on sick leave for months at a time. I was also seeing a LMHC for 2 yrs. I have good days and bad days, mostly bad right now. I took this week off work to pull myself together again. I don't take vacations anymore to do fun things or relax and do fun things. I take them now to sleep, and try to clean my house and put STUFF back where it belongs.

All I do is beat myself up for being like this. Infact I am crying now. I have always been a little depressed since childhood and never understood why I had these feelings. Being a young child, I had never heard about depression. I just didnt feel good and would be sad and cry. The only things back then that cheered me up was listen to music on the HI-FI or my transistor. Taking a walk and looking at the pretty yards around my neighborhood. Also back then being 10 yrs old, I would clean organize my drawers and trinkets. I think the organizing thing was a way of having control over something and I could see the result right away. Music makes me happy especially 1950 -1960's.

I love the out doors, beaches, and parks. I live in a condo across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, a wide open view. There is a pool right below me, chairs and umbrella's, I have a balcony with lounge chairs and a table. I have lived here almost 2 yrs. I have walked across to the beach only once when relatives came over. Only been to the pool once that same day. I have gone out on the balony just to look out, then I go back in.

I have trapped myself in my home and only go out to drive to work. I work 3 jobs, 2 at all times, 7 days a week. I have been doing this for 2 yrs. If I don't work these jobs, we can't pay our bills. We have lost about 60% of our income. All the savings we had for our retirement.

I have had several family members die unexpectently, natural and unnatural. Several close friends to cancer and one was shot to death while working. My mother died 4 yrs ago unexpectently and I have yet to get passed this.

Now I know what all the problems are that are adding to the already depressed person that I am. I just can't get myself out of the depression. I used to be very organized, everything was on a schedule (I sometimes followed).

What am trying to do this week is put everything back on a schedule. To work in excerise, food menus, schedule time for reading, walking on the beach etc. My husband and I have not been out to each or been with friends in about 2 yrs. No time and no money, so I am going to start out with 1x a mo for us to do something. I will put a little money away just for that.

On my schedules if I get one thing done on my list, I am not going to beat myself up because I didnt do 2. Like anonymous stated, they hadnt taken a shower in 3 days, me too. I think if we need to ask the question are we depressed or lazy, it proably is depression. I dont think someone who is just plain lazy, is depressed or sad and wants to do something and feels depressed or sad because they cant.

I also read the Bible alot and it does help. I think depressed person need to try to make a habit of just one thing that improves their mood. Then take on another and do the same thing.

I have gone on too long here, but you know? I feel a little better, I think I will go take a shower and take a walk across the street and not feel guilty doing it. :)

Anonymous said...

I have actually copied and pasted many of the words here into a doc to print and keep re-reading.

I've struggled with this for many years (depression, anxiety, no motivation, isolating myself, Prozac and then Paxil years ago, sleep problems ...) and while I'm a lot better now, for some weird reason I actually wondered if I was lazy or depressed lately. Well, duh.

Do any of you know about Sam-e? It was how I stopped the Paxil about 11 years ago. I'm not a health professional, but I've learned that I need a lot more than the package says (unless it's that brand in the bright yellow box, which to me, at least, is much much stronger, and in fact, if I'm not careful, can trigger pounding-heart anxiety in me if I am not careful). I'm re-working dosage again because I have that strong one again (had a Costco trip).

So, long story short, my experience over 11 years or so has been that it's very dose-sensitive, that I need a lot more than the 200 mg mentioned, but that I have to use the yellow-box famous one more carefully (to me, at least, it has a stronger effect that cane cross the line from relieving depression to triggering pounding-heart fear/anxiety). But Sam-e has kept me off Paxil, etc., for over a decade.

Now to institute some of these suggestions for dealing with the present part-depression, part-anxiety slump. Scheduling and exercise and just MOVING sound right to me. I do think I have a new "habit" of inactivity .... I even feel anxious if I don't stick to my recent TV "schedule" (on the couch)!

Anonymous said...

I asked myself this question today when I decided not to show up at work. Months ago, the midwife informed me that the psychological assessment I had undergone indicated that I might be depressed. I know I am, even before this first pregnancy occurred (unplanned)... It doesn't help that I'm suffering from morning sickness day and night. Although the workplace is one of the many sources of my depression, I'm also conscious that I'm just being lazy today - everyone at work seems to make an excuse for my not being at work - because nobody suspects I'm depressed and everyone I work with will never see me as someone lazy. The way I see it - depression and laziness are two forms of 'illness' that may present similar symptoms and require varying degrees of will power to overcome. The difference is, one's a voluntary act (being lazy) and the other, involuntary (feeling depressed).

Anonymous said...

My whole life my mother said that I was, "the laziest child she'd ever seen". All my friends have said I am the hardest working person they have ever known. Hmmm Being that home life was not the best, and I know I am not lazy, it has to be depression.

I have no insurance and cannot find a low cost shrink to help with meds. My MD has had me try every SSRI and many others. A friend let me try hash oil and all with huge negatives of one kind or another.

Therapy is all I have and it is not working imo. suicide has been tired and failed.

I have given up and don't give a flyin-you-know-what. Hopefully I will be dead soon and I will care less then I do now. Effit.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous-please live.

Sarah said...

I am Phd student and I suffer from mild depression. I have used meds for periods during my 20's and now I am 30. my latest med treatment with citalopram (celex?) started about 3 months ago and at the beginning it went very well, I can say that I was -too- happy and cheered up. But now again I feel that I can not do anything. My partner persuades me to finish my tasks ( mostly research) but i really don't feel like doing anything. if he was not at home maybe I even didn't come to my office and stayed all the day at home. sometimes he gets angry with me and tells me that I should work harder to finish my study. I know too that I should do many things, deadlines are approaching, time is flying by ...but still there I am, hopeless, sitting in front of my screen, trying to pretend I'm working by scrolling and web surfing, ordering stuff,reading/writing emails, making call phones......I am tired of myself...I want to finish my phd. I want to go to the next stage in my life....going further seems impossible.....I look ok and healthy from outside but my inside is ruined.....

Anonymous said...

Who I am and what I've been through is no different than most of the people on this page. What I can say about depression is that it is natural. I'm not certain why we feel the need to "fix" ourselves. Part of what makes humanity beautiful is the differences there are between people. Sarah if you have burst of productivity you should be really proud of it because in that short burst you achieved something most people couldn't do in a life time. So tell your partner to eat you! Depression vs. lazy I say stop trying to label yourself. You are wonderful just the way you are!(relax I'm NOT religious) I know that I definitely cope with depression. But having people in my life that know and understand what I am going through helps. People don't tell me "you should be productive" they tell me "what do you need to be productive today?". Find the people who are willing to help you even before you ask for it. Then you will never have to ask this question again!

Anonymous said...

I had this same issue hit me today. I have a wonderful husband that can't sit still. So the things I'm lacking at b/c I'm completely unmotivated, he's right there no problem. But I feel guilty, I'm a mom of 2 beautiful children & feel like I'm setting a bad example for them by basically having my husband "wait on me". Today for example, I had the best intentions to accomplish something on my day off. I've been needing to go to the title bureau & figure out a problem w one of my vehicles. I get there & after running around to 2 different places & making a 30 min phone call, I finally got the answer I was looking for but I (myself) could not fix what needed to be fixed, I had to go thru other avenues. I got back in my car & just lost it, balling my eyes out, regretting I even tried, came home & have not left my room. Being depressed is exhausting!!! I had such high hopes for today. Now the kids will be coming home & wanting this & that & I can't physically pull myself out of it. I go to work regularly but when I go thru one of these episodes & have to call off because I've been up all night crying over this or that, I feel extremely guilty, but in the same sense I can't see how I'd be very productive in this depressed mood. I just constantly feel like a bad wife, bad mom, bad friend (I haven't seen them for months at a time). I hate myself! I've tried medication in the past & it makes things worse or makes my body/mind feel off. I made an appt w a counselor for next week, but what if it comes down to that I just hate myself? Then what? How do u fix that?

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the obvious warning that I have no idea of what the heck I am just talking about I would point out do it, Anon. We have seen that workout will help. As well as whether or not this doesn't always have much effect on your current depression you may at least be in good health which is not bad, appropriate? All-natural, healthful remedies must be tried just before large pharm drugs each and every time personally.

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Anonymous said...

I am a 35 year old married man. I struggle everyday to do anything. I have a wonderful loving family. Great inlaws. My wife is getting her Masters but most of the time I can't get off the couch. I make pretty good money during the season where I live but every off season I get depressed have no will to live and no motivation to do anything. I don't want to live but I would hare to do that to my family. I feel incompetent. I dropped out of college when I was 20. Went through a major depression. Then it got better. I worked hard to build a career and life. I was happy most of the time. I got married bought a house and then crashed. I still do enough to get by. Pay my mortgage put my wife through school and buy a lot of stuff but I am miserable. I get to the point that I don't want to deal with anything. I feel like a failure and have no motivation. I constantly whine to my family about struggling. They are simpathetic and supportive but at times I feel like the future is just more misery. Work to live live to work. I have way to much downtime in the winter. To much time to think and self critisize. I went to the Doctor when it first started and took anti deppressants. I got better. I went off the nets. Went through the season and now struggling again. Back to doctor back on mess. Hoping to find motivation to be happy. Hoping I don't lose my career because I stay home cooped up day after day. I wish there was a solution.

dickens rivers said...

My message is "Don't stay in a toxic environment." This thread is bittersweet. I would rejoice if no one else had traveled these emotions. That said, thank-you to all who commented, and I pray god blesses you. My wife of 22 years( I knew the environment was killing me, so I crawled away from the marriage 13 years ago.) gradually became very verbally abusive to me and was also an alcoholic. I thought I could find a way for her to be happy, so I stayed. For the last 5-10 years of our marriage,I adopted the attitude that external factors can't influence internal happiness" that words can't diminish my essence, my inner soul. I was very wrong. Those years of stress changed me. I believe contributed greatly to my depression and inactivity. When I take adderoll for depression it works. My ex-wife hasn't drank for four years and is doing better. Again, don't stay in toxic environments. Be well!

Anonymous said...

I would like to reply..or ask a question of the person that posted on January 19,2015 4:54pm would said they had ADD. I also have been diagnosed with ADD about 2yrs a 50yr old woman that has always known there was something wrong with me..teachers always said if I would apply myself and focus I could do well but that I had a hard time applying myself..also can never finish a task before I start another,to many irons in the fire,i drive myself crazy.Ive also been diagnosed with anxiey and depression,but ive tried over a dozen antidepressants and anxiety meds that did not work,when I was on meds they made me want to curl up in a ball and stay in my corner of my house and go nowhere..i feel the best when I don't have to get out and interact with people.I wanted to ask you what meds are you taking for your ADD? you had mentioned that it works for your ADD and depression..please so I can see if ive been on it before and if not ill see if my doctor will let me try it...Please and Thankyou..Im happy for you feeling better..its no fun knowing there is an awesome big world just waiting for us to join the fun and excitement but we hold ourselves back for fear..i pray everyday to get out of this hole and the older ive gotten the worse I feel...