4 Signs You Procrastinate Because Of Depression, Not Laziness

Do you have an assignment to submit but you still haven’t gotten to writing it yet? And it’s the last day already! You have been struggling with getting your work done, even though you had plenty of time. Everyone has basically gone through the same scenario at least once in their life. It’s called procrastination.

There are multiple causes of procrastination, the most common belief is that we procrastinate because we are lazy, but sometimes it could be a more serious issue, like depression or other mental disorders. In this article, I will point out some signs that you are procrastination because of depression and not laziness.

This is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.

Number 1, you have other symptoms.

“There are many symptoms of depression that can mirror what we have come to believe is laziness,” says Ernesto N. Lira de la Rosa, PhD, a psychologist on the Media Advisory Group at Hope for Depression Research Foundation.

Procrastination because of depression is accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty in starting a job, lack of concentration, and decreased levels of energy and motivation. In addition, more than 90% of individuals with depression suffer fatigue, which can often be misinterpreted as laziness.

Number 2, you have no energy.

You have tasks to complete, laundry to do, and a new bag to buy, but you haven’t gotten to do anything yet. It may look like simple procrastination to you, however, the root cause is deeper than that. When you are delaying doing simple tasks that’s because you simply do not have the energy and motivation to do them. Lack of energy and constant exhaustion is one of the signs of depression and not just simple laziness.  

Keep in mind that only a mental health care professional can accurately diagnose the problem. If you are in doubt, please seek their help.

Number 3, you can’t seem to start moving.

You are aware of the time wasted, spending the whole day on the couch, and not ticking off a task from your to-do list. You are swarmed by feelings of guilt and shame but listening to motivational speeches or starting a digital planner to organize your tasks is not helping.

Cameron Murphey, a licensed marriage and family therapist from Oakland, California, expresses that depression promotes negative thoughts and can cause difficulty in controlling your emotions and accomplishing cognitive tasks.

Number 4, you always ask yourself why.

Why am I doing this? Why does it matter?

If you are constantly asking yourself these questions as you are doing work then it’s most likely you will stop what you are doing, seeing as there is no benefit. Negative thoughts will start to bubble in your head which will further encourage you to procrastinate.

“Depression can make it difficult to stay calm and keep moving forward due to self-defeating thoughts. For example, that you’ll never be good enough or you might as well give up,” Dr. Shauna Pollard says, a licensed clinical psychologist from Rockville, Maryland.

To summarize, procrastination may seem like a harmless aspect of life, but it could be a sign of an underlying mental health disorder like depression. When accompanied by signs such as the presence of other symptoms, lack of energy and motivation, and always asking yourself why then you are more likely depressed and not lazy. If you have experienced any of these signs, do not hesitate to reach a mental health professional to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Written by Ruqaya Shahin.


Lépine, J. P., & Briley, M. (2011). The increasing burden of depression. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 7(Suppl 1), 3–7. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S19617

Margarita Tartakovsky, M. S. (2021, September 27). Why some people think depression is laziness. Psych Central. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/depression/depression-and-laziness#laziness-as-a-symptom-of-depression

Team, B. (2022, May 6). Depression: We’re not being lazy. The Blurt Foundation. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from https://www.blurtitout.org/2017/09/12/depression-were-not-being-lazy/

Boyes, A. (2019, September 29). Why depression and procrastination are linked. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201909/why-depression-and-procrastination-are-linked

Gillette, H. (2022, April 29). Does depression cause procrastinating behaviors? Psych Central. Retrieved July 14, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/depression/depression-and-procrastination-symptoms#is-it-a-symptom-of-depression

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