Why Depression Makes You Lazy

why depression makes you lazy

Because depression is often first noticed by an increase in various kinds of inactivity, many people might wonder why depression makes you lazy?

Or, they might be accusing you of being lazy because they don't understand your mental health struggle.

In this article, we'll discuss some of the real changes that occur when you're depressed that might make you seem lazy. 

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The Stigmas of Depression and Laziness

There are a lot of misconceptions about depression. 

But, depression is very common. 

Research shows that around 24% of adults in the United States experience depression. 

Because people don't understand the full spectrum of depression's effects, they might interpret its signs as laziness. 

This could be particularly harmful if it's coming from a parent or worrisome if it's coming from an employer.

Don't let this stigma get attached to you: lazy isn't the right word to describe yourself or someone else who is suffering from depression.

However, this stigma exists because many of depression's symptoms could be interpreted as laziness. 

Especially if you're unfamiliar with the symptoms and how they might affect the characteristics and abilities that help us to lead fully productive lives.

The symptoms of depression can be a combination of changes to your body, your mood, your mind, and very commonly includes an overall increase in apathy.

Depression Makes Your Body Tired

Depression is most commonly described as a mood disorder: this means that the symptoms most typically associated with it are changes in mood. 

However, having depression also wreaks havoc on your physical body.

And, many of these changes can directly affect your level of physical activity. 

This, of course, can lead to weight gain that often compounds the problem. 

Carrying extra weight can make you feel more tired. And, shame about the changes might keep you from exercising or getting out as much as you used to.

Many people who experience depression find that it is accompanied by an overall lack of energy and motivation. 

This might also be accompanied by fatigue and aches which make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, exercise, complete tasks at work, participate socially or feel engaged with your loved ones. 

Many people with depression will see a noticeable decline in exercise, going out for social events, and even difficulty getting to work on time.

Another common physical effect of depression is that it causes disruptions to your sleep patterns. 

Insomnia is one of the most reported effects of depression; it can keep you up all night and then make it hard to get up in the morning.

If this happens too often and you're showing up to work late, then your boss might think you are lazy.

If you're finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, it might not be laziness: it might be depression.

Likewise, if you've recently gained a significant amount of weight or you're feeling persistently tired: it might be depression.

Depression Makes It Harder to Think

While depression is often associated with a persistent feeling of hopelessness, it can also cause changes to your basic level of cognitive functioning. 

Recent research has shown that depression can cause long-term mental effects beyond the typical symptoms.

Suffering from depression can result in loss of brain cells, inability to grow new brain cells, and even brain shrinkage. 

Since your brain is responsible for much of your experience, this means that depression can affect your ability to think, feel, and to regulate your emotions.

Like the physical effects described above, many of the mental effects of depression could be interpreted as laziness. 

And, in the case of depression's effect on your ability to think, it could get you accused of having a lack of intelligence. 

This might be especially alarming for people who are middle-aged since they might mentally age faster and show signs of cognitive decline earlier.

Some of the mental symptoms of depression include disruptions to your ability to learn and remember. 

You might be having difficulty focusing on tasks at work, remembering to complete projects, or paying attention to directions and instructions. 

You might also be experiencing overall brain fog that disrupts your ability to think straight. 

Some people even report that depression increases their inability to remember words.

This can appear like laziness to people who don't understand the tremendous impact that depression has on your brain. 

Depression Causes Apathy

Perhaps the effect of depression that might most commonly be mistaken for laziness is an increase in apathy. 

Apathy is a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. 

Some people describe this as numbing or deadening towards the people and the things that they have always cared about or enjoyed.

If you've found yourself suddenly less interested in things like food, sex, friends, being active, creative pursuits, or your career, this could be depression.

Depression is also highly-correlated with self-blame, so you are probably blaming yourself for struggling. 

You might even be the one who is accusing yourself of being lazy.

Don't worry: you're not lazy and it's not your fault. 


Don't let anyone - including yourself - make you feel that you're lazy. 

Many of depression's symptoms attack our motivation which can make it seem to others like we never do anything. 

But, people with depression often experience even small tasks and activities as nearly impossible.

Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. Now, it's time to take your first step to healing and getting your life back.

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June 3rd, 2023

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