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Laziness vs Depression: What’s the Difference?

It can be easy to think that laziness and depression are the same things, but they are actually vastly different. Today, we’ll chat about what laziness really is, how it can affect you differently than depression, and look at some ways to understand when you’re feeling laziness vs depression, including depression symptoms and signs of depression you can look for.

Am I Depressed or Just Lazy?

One of the most common questions psychologists and mental health professionals are often asked is whether someone is suffering from depression or is just lazy. It’s a legitimate question because there’s a lot of overlap between the two conditions, and at first glance, one can have a hard time telling them apart.

But once you dive a little deeper, then you can start to see the difference between depression and laziness. Depression is a serious and debilitating mental health condition, and like most mental health issues, it has widespread effects on the depressed person, their family, loved ones, and even co-workers or colleagues. 

So understanding the difference between laziness vs depression and where to go to handle either is important for your mental wellbeing and your children’s mental wellbeing, as well.

The Key Differences Between Depression and Laziness

There are many little things that differentiate laziness and depression, but one big difference that stands out between these two situations – clinical depression is something people experience but don’t want to. Depression is a medical condition and a mental disorder. 

Having depression is completely out of someone’s control and they didn’t do anything to bring this condition onto themselves. In fact, many people with depression have trouble pinning down exactly what triggered the condition in the first place.

Depression can sneak up on you or build up over time but either way, it is involuntary. Lazy people (or better said, people who are acting in a lazy way), on the other hand, have a choice, although oftentimes a subconscious one. We choose not to do something or to put something off and simply do nothing – we’ve all told ourselves ‘that can wait until tomorrow’ and sometimes that’s true, but sometimes that’s laziness creeping up!

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?

While every person who suffers from depression can see different signs and symptoms, some come up the most often. Doctors usually say that any sign of depression will be present for two weeks or more to meet the criteria for depression.

Some of the emotional and mental symptoms of depression include:

  • Moodiness or changes in mood frequently
  • Withdrawing from social contact with other people
  • Problems with concentration
  • Feeling sad, empty or hopeless
  • Problems at work or school
  • Anhedonia, losing interest in normal activities in everyday life (which looks like laziness from the outside)

There are also some common physical signs and symptoms which include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Stomach problems with no clear reason
  • Headaches, joint and muscle pain

For me, depression often shows up with hopelessness, and I notice that my energy levels go down. I deal with really low self-esteem, sometimes to the point of entertaining thoughts of suicide.

I have been dealing with depression for a long time, since childhood, really, so I’ve been studying the warning signs and how they manifest in my life, and this way, I can seek the emotional support I need in these dark times. If you ever feel this way, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, because your life matters, and you matter!

What Causes Depression?

Depression is a very varied situation where people can be impacted by any number of different things. Sometimes there’s no clear trigger, while other times, you can link the condition to a clear point. 

When something painful, unpleasant, or unexpected happened or a situation reached a certain point, this may have left you feeling depressed.

Some of the most common causes of depression include:

  • A history of traumatic events of different kinds, including abusive family relationships
  • If there’s a history of depression in the family
  • If you have suffered long term loneliness or isolation from others
  • Prolonged stress at work or in your business
  • Substance abuse, alcohol use, or other compulsive behaviors

Believe it or not, the negative thoughts triggered by social media can affect someone’s mental health to the point of causing depression, especially when they spend a lot of time scrolling through a platform and comparing themselves to people.

This is a key point for moms because we tend to be too hard on ourselves, and also because our kids are growing up with massive access to technology. The good news is that we can teach them to love and accept themselves as they are, and how to manage their feelings, especially when it comes to comparison, competition, or envy and jealousy.

Can Depression Make You Lazy?

One of the main symptoms seen in depressed people can make you look like you are being lazy. People with depression commonly experience a general disinterest in life and a lack of motivation. To someone on the outside, this might make them look lazy, especially if they are not keeping up with daily activities and basic tasks, such as household chores or personal hygiene.

When I am in a depressed state or dealing with PTSD, I do not want to get out of bed, so even though I don’t act like a lazy person (because my work ethic is still strong – if not stronger), I don’t want to get up to shower or even brush my teeth.

Remember, there’s that key difference between laziness vs depression – depression isn’t a choice. People with depression don’t want to feel unmotivated and lethargic. Instead, we would prefer to feel like ourselves, to have the energy to do things we like and love doing, and enjoying the drive to accomplish whatever is before us.

If this is happening during the winter months, it may be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD for short), which I can relate to from personal experience, since I love a lot of sunlight and when it’s not there, it tends to make me feel gloomy and affects my desire to engage in specific activities (like cleaning), but increases my desire to do others (like watching sappy movies).

There can be situations where people think they are depressed but really they are being a bit lazy. If the feelings of laziness and apathy have lasted for more than two weeks, this can be a key indicator of depression; however, anything less than that could mean that you may just be in a lazy phase.

Tips for Coping with Laziness

Deciding, or rather discovering, whether you are coping with laziness versus depression is one big step. But it is also important to understand why you are feeling lazy, so you can be empowered to make a different choice if you wish.

Spotting the laziness cause

Laziness isn’t always a bad thing. The need for lazy days is a way our bodies tell us to slow down, to take a break, or change pace for a while. We can’t maintain a frenetic 24/7 activity level, even when we think that motherhood demands it! 

When laziness creeps in, it may simply be your body telling you to take it easy for a bit, to be gentler, kinder, and more compassionate with yourself. Laziness can actually be your friend and the best thing that can happen so you can practice some much-needed self-care. Don’t judge yourself harshly if you realize you’re feeling lazy!

What I do is I observe Sunday as my Sabbath day, so I can be lazy that day and I feel energized the next day. It’s actually the best way to fall in love with Mondays!

However, if the feeling seems debilitating to you, it is a good idea to think about why you are feeling lazy. Some questions you could ask yourself to figure out if it’s laziness vs depression include:

  • Do you feel more tired than usual or have your sleeping patterns changed negatively?
  • Is something in life overwhelming you and it feels as if something is making you want to avoid doing it?
  • Do you feel like you have no chance of accomplishing your daily tasks?
  • Have you simply taken on too many commitments and feel overwhelmed?
  • Are you worried about making some kind of mistake so you are avoiding the task?

Tactics to deal with it

Once you have an idea about what’s triggering the feelings, you can take steps to try and ease the problem.

A lot of the time, laziness comes when we feel there’s too much to do and not much time to do it and that it is impossible to succeed even with simple tasks so we don’t even want to start. Fear of failure is another factor, so breaking things down into smaller, more manageable tasks is always a good idea.

Break down big goals into a series of smaller ones. 

Schedule tasks out in a realistic way based on the time you have each day. 

Or prioritize a number of tasks a day and permit yourself to forget the rest.

Finally, you might want to get some kind of accountability. This might be from friends and family members, it might be from work colleagues or even from professional help. Either way, you will benefit from having a group of people who can ask how it is going, help you get on track if you stray, and even cheer on your success.

Laziness vs Depression: Understand and act

Depression is a serious situation and a clinical condition, and you should always seek out a health professional if you have been feeling this way for more than a couple of weeks. 

When it comes to laziness, there are steps to take to help motivate yourself and make a conscious effort to shake it off. But always be aware that if it goes on for a while, it may be more than just a lazy state of mind and there may be more to look for in your subconscious mind.

Self-discovery and self-reflection are great tools to gain greater perspective on life and to live a happier life, too. And when you are happier, you can make a difference to those around you.

How do you tell if it’s true laziness or a symptom of depression? Share your thoughts on laziness vs depression with us in the comments below!