Hi, Psych2Go-ers. Welcome back!
Have you fallen into a bit of a slump lately? Has it made you question the cause of this slump? You may have noticed that you’re not yourself lately, but you don’t know why. Everything feels foggy and heavy. You’re not motivated to do anything. You might ask yourself : Am I depressed or lazy?
Within the hustle culture and within society at large, the word “lazy” has negative connotations. We imagine a person who’s messy, unkempt and unambitious and is given the stamp of a loser. However, laziness can be a consequence of something more complex and significant. In certain circumstances, it can be an indicator of poor mental health and possibly, depression.
While some of us might confuse depression with laziness, it’s easy to see why. On a surface level, both depression and laziness affect a person’s energy levels, motivation and concentration. However when we look closer, we discover that depression is a mental health disorder that affects your entire well-being and ability to function. Laziness is when a person is unmotivated by external or internal things because they lack the insight or the desire to figure out what they want and what motivates them.
If you still feel confused about whether or not you’re lazy or struggling with your mental health, here are 6 signs that can help clear that up.
- You’re Addicted To Your Phone
Smartphones are a modern-day convenience. We can use them to get just about anything and with all of the social media platforms and content creators, we are never without any entertainment. But it has a darkside that can negatively impact your mental health.
When you go on your phone for a few minutes to just veg out and not really have to think about thinking, that’s okay. It’s like taking a break (even if it’s not really recommended to use your phone as a relaxation tool, but I digress). The problem is when you’re spending hours of your time on your phone, avoiding your chores, work or family and friends (*raises hand*) . You become so plugged into this alternative reality that you unplug yourself from your own life. You use your smartphone as a form of escapism to avoid facing your emotional pain and issues. While you receive short-term satisfaction, in the long-term you can damage your mental health by comparing your life to the lives of strangers on social media.
- You’re Too Overwhelmed To Do Anything
Life is extremely busy and stressful. You’ve worked really hard and you wait for Friday to catch up on all of your shows and to recharge from all the energy you expended. You’re off duty and your deserve to recoup. This so-called laziness is actually recharging which you definitely need to do to prevent burnout.
If you’re like me, the mere idea of the mountain of work you have to do might fill you with dread. For people dealing with mental health issues, the response to this overwhelming feeling looks like laziness : we hide. We crawl into our beds and avoid the issue that is causing us this panic and pain.
- You’re More Physically Exhausted Than Usual
Two weeks ago, I had an anxiety/depressive episode. I had blamed it solely on the job that I absolutely can’t stand but currently need🤦🏽♀️ and thought that this extreme fatigue was a virus or an infection. No amount of sleep made my fatigue go away. I’d just be tired again and it affected my mood and ability to work, even doing the things I loved seemed so out of reach.
Dr Maurizio Fava, director of the Clinical Research Program at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital has seen this fatigue phenomenon in depressed individuals. He discovered that these individuals experienced “non-restorative” sleep, so they felt sluggish even after getting a full night’s rest. So if you might be feeling extremely Fatigued lately, this might be a reason why.
- You’re Neglecting Your Personal Hygiene
Your knee-jerk reaction to this might be “No way. People actually struggle with things like that?” To an individual who is struggling with their mental health and might be having a depressive episode, it’s their current reality and it’s not a state that they enjoy being in.
Clinical psychologist and author, Carla Manly, PhD, noted that your mental state can affect your relationship with your hygiene. As a result of the extreme fatigue you’re facing, you don’t have the energy to get out of bed, let alone, make your bed. Since all these negative things are happening, it can also create apathy. You don’t feel like showering, washing your hair, or brushing your teeth because what’s the point?
- You’re Oversleeping
As we already know, extreme fatigue is a sign of struggling with your mental health. Besides just not having the energy to be able to do things, you can have a hard time getting enough restorative sleep. You might get a full night’s rest, but still wake up tired and go back to sleep again.
This inability to get up out of bed is deeply rooted in your being. It feels like an invisible force is sitting on your chest and body, making you stay in bed. Your bed becomes your safe space, like a crab retreating into the safety of its shell.
- You’re In Pain
When you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not just in emotional pain. With depression especially, it can manifest in physical pain, which is an atypical form of depression symptoms. We’re conditioned to believe that physical pain has a physical root, when it can actually stem from our emotional or mental bodies.
From all of this physical pain you may be under, it becomes difficult to do normal things that mentally healthy people might take for granted. Some of the symptoms include : aching muscles, headaches, stomach pain, nausea and cramps. A 2017 research study by the University of Guelph even found amongst university students, a direct association between depression and back pain.
Words have power. They will and do definitely hurt people. Calling someone lazy is a hurtful assumption because they want to be able to thrive and function in a healthy way, they might just be struggling at that point in time. Laziness seems to be more situational than true lack of motivation. And even thinking of yourself as lazy when you’re going through a difficult time and can’t work is harmful to you. I was beating myself up for not working when my body was telling me that something was wrong. We are so ingrained with the ideology of being hard-working, that we consider our body’s natural response to fatigue, mental disorders and needing to take a break as laziness.
We hope you’ve found this post useful. And if you’re struggling with your mental health right now, you’re absolutely not the only one. We’re just very good at masking it. Even if you don’t have the resources to make it completely go away, there are ways that you can help yourself. Our amazing Psych2Go channel has lots of videos that you might find useful and a supportive community in the comments that you can engage with.
Good luck and see you soon !😊
*Antonatos , L. (2022, April 4). Am I depressed or lazy? how to tell the difference. Choosing Therapy. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/depressed-or-lazy/
*Draghici , A. (2022, January 6). Am I depressed or lazy? 10 ways to know the difference. Happier Human. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from https://www.happierhuman.com/depressed-lazy/
*Ferguson, S. (2019, October 28). Yes, mental illness can impact your hygiene. here’s what you can do about it. Healthline. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/mental-illness-can-impact-hygiene#Why-is-it-so-hard-to-brush-my-teeth-or-shower?
*Johnson , B. (2021, May 24). Am I depressed or lazy? Google. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/body-talk/202105/am-i-depressed-or-lazy%3famp
*Robertson, D., Kumbhare, D., Nolet, P., Srbely, J., & Newton, G. (2017, August). Associations between low back pain and depression and somatization in a Canadian emerging adult population. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596967/#!po=0.555556
*Schuster , S. (2018, August 17). 9 things people with depression do that seem ‘lazy,’ but aren’t. The Mighty. Retrieved April 11, 2022, from https://themighty.com/2018/08/depression-not-lazy/