Depression has many symptoms. If you are depressed, you may find it difficult to enjoy the activities you used to enjoy. You may withdraw from social interactions, develop a negative attitude, and have trouble concentrating. But is is true that this mental disorder makes you lazy?

In short, yes: when you are depressed, you usually feel lazy, tired, and apathetic. This happens because your thoughts and feelings change. When you suffer from depression, you develop a very negative outlook on life, and your levels of serotonin and dopamine change. You are also more likely to experience sleep problems.

In today’s article we will learn what depression and laziness are, why depression makes you lazy, and seven tips to increase your energy levels when you suffer from depression.

Let’s begin.

What is depression?

Unlike sadness, depression is a mental health disorder, which can be mild or severe. When you have mild depression, you may experience tiredness, low energy, changes in your sleep cycle, and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy.

Those who suffer from severe depression will often have suicidal thoughts as well; they will often find it difficult to perform even the easiest tasks, such as taking care of their personal hygiene; they will have an extremely negative outlook on the world, and an extremely negative self-image.

While sadness goes away within minutes, hours, or a few days, depression usually lasts for a long time, especially if not treated. Interestingly enough, depression could have a clear cause (for example, the end of a relationship, abuse, money problems, or any major stressful event in your life) but it could also appear “out of nowhere”.

Perhaps the worst thing about depression is that most people don’t realize they have it — they notice they have no energy, and that they are not able to enjoy life as much as they used to, but quite often they will interpret their symptoms as “normal”.

When you are depressed, your mind can be your worst enemy, and it can come up with thoughts that somehow justify your mental and physical state.

Those who are depressed may think that, after all, it’s normal to constantly feel drained when you have a full time job; it’s normal to feel grief, hopelessness, and despair in such an unfair world; and it’s normal to have a non-existent self-esteem when you haven’t accomplished much in life.

Hopefully, it is now clear that sadness and depression are two completely different things. While sadness is a natural feeling, which can be controlled and which we all experience from time to time, depression — mild or severe — is a disorder that most people have no control on.

When you are sad, you can still work, be productive, and maintain a normal sleep pattern. When you suffer from depression, on the other hand, you are at your lowest. Your perception of the world is clearly altered. It’s like you are wearing glasses that make everything appear gray.

Have a look at this picture to better understand the main differences:


What is laziness?

When you are lazy, you simply choose not to do what you are supposed to do — you know you are able to perform a particular task, however you consciously decide to do something else, or procrastinate.

For example, in order to improve your immune system and well being, you may have to exercise and eat healthier every day, and you are 100 percent capable of doing that, but because you are lazy, you end up watching TV all day while eating twice the amount of calories you are supposed to eat.

Notice that the main difference here is that while a lazy person is simply unmotivated, and chooses not to do something, a depressed person would actually like to work, go out, exercise, meet new people, and so on, however they simply can’t.

Another key difference would be that while laziness could be, in some cases, a good thing, and make you a happier person overall (as I have explained here), depression is always a disorder, and it always makes you miserable — whether it’s mild or severe.

Plus, laziness isn’t necessarily related to your mood: some people have high levels of happiness and vitality, but they are still lazy from time to time. Let’s now have a look at why depression makes you feel drained and tired all the time, as well as some easy, practical tips to overcome laziness when you are depressed.

Why depression makes you lazy

1. Faulty thinking

Your thoughts drive your actions and your feelings. As we’ve seen earlier, those who suffer from depression perceive the world negatively. Moreover, they usually have a low self-esteem, and believe that no matter what they do, they won’t be able to change anything in their own life.

Unfortunately, with such thoughts it’s basically impossible to be productive in any way. When you declare to yourself that there’s nothing you can do, that you are a failure, that life is too hard — what’s the point in doing anything?

In some cases, depressed people will even reject the idea that therapy or medications can do anything for them. They will stop seeking help because “nothing can change the way they feel”. This is why it’s crucial to immediately ask for help as soon as you notice some of the signs.

2. Chemistry

Depression alters levels of serotonin and dopamine. Though scientists are still not 100 percent clear on how depression changes these two chemicals, we do know that serotonin and dopamine affect your emotions, your level of motivation, your sleep cycle, your appetite, and many other important functions of your body.

This is why people with severe depression can experience not only mental symptoms, but also physical changes such as weight loss or weight gain, sleep problems, stomach issues, headaches, and even changes in appetite (they may constantly overeat, or eat very little).

When your body does not function properly, it’s easy to see how you can become lazy and lethargic. Moreover, if your levels of dopamine are not ideal, you will find it hard to feel motivated, and some of your cognitive functions may decrease significantly — you may have trouble concentrating or remembering things.

3. Poor sleep

No one can function without proper sleep — not even the most disciplined person in the world. Those who suffer from mental health problems, including depression, often notice changes in their sleep cycle and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. As a result, they become lazy and tired, and can’t concentrate for long periods of time.

Again, the cause could be chemistry. We know that serotonin levels can change when you have depression, and because serotonin is essential for good sleep (it releases melatonin, and makes you feel somnolent), depressed people may find it difficult to get their eight hours.

Depression often interferes with sleep

4. A vicious cycle

Depression makes you lazy; laziness makes you depressed. Lack of motivation, lack of energy, poor sleep, and feelings of emptiness make it impossible for anyone to be productive; and the less productive you are, the more likely it is that you will feel depressed. It can soon turn into a vicious cycle.

This is why depression can get worse over time. Initially, it could simply be a combination of laziness and sadness; then, it could become more serious, and eventually lead to hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, or even self harming behavior.

Let’s have a look at some simple tips anyone can follow to gradually heal from depression, and deal with feelings of tiredness and lack of motivation caused by depression.

Tips to overcome laziness when depressed

1. Realize you are depressed

Here’s the thing: if you are depressed, you are not a slacker — you suffer from a mental health disorder. So don’t be too hard on yourself, because it’s the worst thing you can do.

When you are depressed, it feels hard to do anything, so if you are lazy, it’s understandable. Your goal should not be to be the most productive person on the planet, but rather to accomplish some small tasks so you can generate momentum and feel good about yourself (more on this in a minute).

2. Develop a sleep routine

As we saw earlier, depression can mess up your serotonin levels and consequently cause sleep problems. You may find it difficult to fall asleep, or stay asleep; or, you may oversleep.

Having a healthy sleep cycle is vital if you want to overcome laziness, so you must develop a good sleep routine. Try to wake up and go to bed at roughly the same time every day; avoid staying up late as human beings are designed to be active during the day, not at night. It may be hard to follow a sleep routine at first, but the more you do it, the more you’ll get used to it.

3. Exercise

Physical exercise has countless benefits. Plus, when you move your body, it releases endorphins: it’s basically a natural antidepressant. If you suffer from depression — or any other mental health issue — it’s very important that you make the time to exercise.

It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, and it doesn’t have to be seven days a week. But do make sure that you don’t sit all day every day. Something as simple as a short walk in nature could do wonders for depression, and increase your energy levels significantly. If you make it a habit, it will help you immensely.

4. Take advantage of the good days

Though depression tends to be constant, even during the toughest times you will still have good days. If you want to overcome laziness, then, take advantage of those — when you do feel productive and have energy, just do it!

For example, one day you may wake up earlier than usual, and notice that you have slept well, and feel refreshed. That’s the perfect opportunity to get out of bed and do something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk outside, working on a project, tidying up your room, or cooking a healthy meal — just take advantage of the good days to create momentum.

5. Start small

When you are depressed, even the smallest task can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to break down any goal or project into tiny, achievable goals. So for example, if you need to study and read a whole book, focus on the first five or ten pages.

Also, don’t be a perfectionist. It’s easy to become lazy and unmotivated if you assume that everything you do must be perfect. Just decide that you are going to work on something, and follow through. Then, when you achieve the task, pat yourself on the back and be proud of yourself.

6. Eat right

Much like a good sleep pattern, a healthy diet will definitely help you deal with depression-induced laziness. Ditch junk food and opt for meals that give you energy. Avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as dairy, and consume a lot of fruit and vegetables.

Whether you have lost your appetite and don’t eat enough, or you tend to overeat, it can be useful to follow a meal plan to ensure you get in the right amount of calories and nutrients. If you are depressed and lazy, don’t underestimate the importance of what you put in your body.

7. Reward yourself

The seventh and final tip to overcome laziness when you are depressed is to reward yourself whenever you do achieve a task. Just like it’s important to celebrate small wins on your way to your big dreams; if you suffer from depression, but you still manage to get stuff done, you should always feel proud.

When you reward yourself, you give your brain a tiny dose of dopamine, and you silence the voice inside you that says you’ll never be able to do anything. There is no way to cure depression overnight, but if you have the determination to keep going, and be really proud of yourself along the way, you will go back to a happy, fulfilling life in a relatively short time.

To sum it up:

  • Realize that you suffer from a disorder, and don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Develop a good sleep routine: wake up and go to bed at roughly the same time every day
  • Move your body as much as possible because it’s a natural antidepressant
  • Take advantage of the good days, always
  • Focus on small, achievable tasks and don’t be a perfectionist
  • Stop eating unhealthy food, and consume the kind of food that gives you energy and vitality
  • Reward yourself often; depression is an insidious disease — when you do manage to be productive, you should feel great about yourself

Thank you for reading this article! I hope you found it useful. If you believe you suffer from depression, ask for help immediately. Though you can overcome your feelings on your own, talking to an experienced therapist is always the fastest, most sensible, best possible solution.