Is It Depression or Just Laziness? How to Know the Difference

Am depressed or just lazy? difference between depression and laziness

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Is it depression or laziness? You are probably asking yourself this question while staring at the pile of dirty clothes that have been on that chair in the corner of your bedroom for days. You are not alone in this confusion.

Many people fail to recognize the signs of depression blaming their lack of motivation to do their daily chores and assigned tasks on laziness and vice versa. This is why it is so important to know the difference between laziness and depression.

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Is it depression or just laziness?

We all have days we don’t feel like doing anything but being a couch potato and watching TV all day. It could be because we are taking a day off from work to recover from a busy week or burnout, postponing difficult/unpleasant tasks, or just feeling tired and unmotivated to do anything at the moment.

However, if you have been feeling unmotivated to work or do your chores for several days or weeks, you might start wondering, ‘Am I depressed or lazy?’

Knowing whether what you are experiencing are signs you’re depressed and not lazy can be difficult because laziness is a sign of depression too.

Depression and laziness have many similar symptoms, including lack of motivation and low energy levels, and it’s no surprise you might not realize which one you are experiencing. This makes the questions, ‘Am I depressed or just lazy?’ or ‘Do I have depression or am I just lazy?’ legitimate questions.

Laziness is among the many bad habits that society condemns. However, sometimes this feeling and the behaviors that accompany it have underlying causes and could be indicating more complex issues such as depression.

Being called lazy when depressed can worsen your already poor mental health and this is why it is so important to know the difference between the two in order to devise ways to deal with them. So, how can you know if you are depressed or just lazy?

In today’s post, we shall discuss the difference between laziness and depression and how to know which one you are experiencing right now. Is it depression or just laziness?

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How to Know the Difference between Laziness and Depression

  1. Manifestation and duration

Is it depression or just laziness? Depression and laziness manifest in similar ways.

However, you can know when you’re depressed and not just lazy because depression is a mental illness that makes you feel unmotivated to do anything that doesn’t go away after a day of idleness but persists for days, weeks, months, or years even.

It is not your choice or something you can control, and most often, people suffering from depression do not want to feel the way they do. You want to get up and be active but simply can’t. You just don’t have the energy or willpower to do anything.

On the other hand, you can know you are just lazy and not depressed if the duration of feeling low motivation and energy lasts only a short period.

When feeling lazy, it is your choice not to do anything or postpone tasks for a period of time. Within a few days, you are back on your feet doing what is expected of you.

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  1. Effects on mood and thoughts

This is perhaps the most obvious difference between depression and laziness. When it is depression and not just laziness, your mood and outlook towards life are affected negatively.

Extended periods of grumpiness, hopelessness, despair, sadness, and negative thought patterns are some of the signs of depression.

You feel like you have no reason to even wake up in the morning and face each new day with dread. Curling up in your bed and sleeping the days away are your ways of escaping reality and your problems.

Changes in mood and thoughts are some of the best ways to know if it is depression or laziness.

You can know you’re lazy and not depressed if your mood and thought patterns are fine, and you are only feeling unmotivated to do particular things. You don’t want to wake up because the bed feels cozy and comfortable and not because you have no reason to get up or are hopeless.

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  1. Difference in behaviors

You behave very differently when depressed versus lazy, and thus, observing your behavior can help you identify whether it is depression or laziness you are experiencing.

Some behavioral signs you are depressed, and not just lazy, include;

  • Neglecting yourself and no longer caring about your personal hygiene and appearance
  • Withdrawing from social life and isolating yourself
  • Losing interest in things that you used to love
  • Simple activities feel like they require too much effort.
  • Changes in appetite, either overeating or undereating
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Having avoidance behaviors in order to distract yourself from your problems and escape reality. For example, watching TV for hours, overuse of social media, excessive sleeping, daydreaming, drinking, or substance abuse.

You will not exhibit most of these signs when lazy and not depressed. For instance, your social life might still be intact, your appetite could be okay, and you could still be interested in the things you love but feel unmotivated and uninspired to do them right now.

However, even though you are lazy, not depressed, you might have avoidance behaviors such as overuse of social media, watching TV, and excessive sleeping, especially when trying to procrastinate handling a difficult situation or task.

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  1. Effects on physical health

Is it depression or just laziness? If you are still asking yourself this question, another way to know whether you’re depressed or lazy is by the effects on your physical health.

When depressed, you will notice unexplainable pains, aches, and illnesses such as headaches, joint pain, digestive problems, nausea, back pain, among many others. 

Laziness doesn’t usually have these physical effects unless it becomes a habit, whereby you could be exposed to lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity due to a sedentary life.

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In the same way that depression can make you lazy as one of its signs, laziness can lead to depression.

When idle and doing things that others consider trivial and do not require much effort, such as watching TV or scrolling through social media feeds all day, you have too much time to think about things, and not all these thoughts are positive.

Just because you are feeling lazy and spending the day doing nothing doesn’t mean your mind is inactive too. Your brain might actually be overworking.

You feel stressed about all the tasks you have to accomplish but don’t feel like doing them. You think about how much time you’re wasting doing nothing which makes you more stressed.

You have more time to think about any past mistakes and worries you might have, which can lead to negative thinking patterns and rumination, which could eventually result in depression.

Also, you might postpone doing your required tasks, and as they pile up, they could lead to increased stress levels when you think about handling them.

Being lazy to escape a stressful day can eventually turn into a week, into a month, and before you know it, your bad days never go away, and you have slipped into depression.

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How to Manage Depression

If you determine that you are dealing with depression and not laziness, you can manage it using these tips;

  1. Do your tasks or things you loved to do even if you don’t want to, but because you need to.
  2. Stay in touch with your emotions through mindfulness meditation, yoga, and journaling.
  3. Use techniques that promote positive thinking patterns and eliminate negative thoughts, such as practicing positive self-talk, daily positive self-affirmations, writing down what you are grateful for, reading inspirational materials, surrounding yourself with positive people, and finding joy in small things
  4. Take care of your overall health by sleeping, exercising, and eating a healthy balanced diet.
  5. Go out of the house for a walk even if you don’t want to
  6. Seek help from a professional, support groups, family, and friends.
  7. Take the medication prescribed by a physician (if required).

Final Thoughts

Is it depression or laziness? You now know how to know if you are depressed and not just lazy and how the two are related.

Laziness is often a symptom of an underlying problem, and being called lazy when depressed is very damaging and could worsen one’s mental health.

So, the next time you get the urge to label someone as lazy, pause and really understand them and why they are acting the way they are. 

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  1. Very informative article. The signs of depression are generally neglected. Most of us live in denial till it gets late. Better to understand early and take corrective measures.
    Stay blessed Sheri..

    1. Very true. I guess the stigma on people with depression is one of the reasons why people try to deny they have it or ignore it’s signs; which then only makes things worse. Thank you so much for reading, Jas!

  2. Very interesting, thanks for bringing this topic into discussion. Being fully aware of the differences definitely helps us have more compassion for ourselves when we jump to think laziness is the problem.

    1. It helps us be compassionate to others too. We should stop judging people too harshly and thinking they are lazy if we don’t know their story. Thank you so much for reading!❤

  3. Cool post, it’s a distinction we need to make. Now I know I’m just lazy, not depressed. Thanks for sharing.

    1. 😂 that’s good news for you! You’ll be fine soon. But do keep observing your signs just in case it isn’t laziness. All the best, Joanne! ❤

      1. It’s good news. But yeah, I’ll pay attention to it just to make sure.
        Thanks a lot, Sheri!💖

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