Mental Health
Am I Depressed or Lazy?

Am I Depressed or Lazy?

6 min read


Jareena Silva

Feeling sluggish, unmotivated, and unproductive is a common experience for many people at different points in their lives. It's easy to label these feelings as "lazy," but sometimes, there's more to it than meets the eye.If you're feeling lazy and unmotivated, you might be questioning whether you have depression or not. And if you do, are there things that you can do to feel like yourself again.

How to Distinguish Between Laziness and Depression

Depression and laziness may sound like they go hand in hand, but they actually have very different causes. Understanding the difference between laziness and depression can help those struggling to find the right path to take on their journey through their own wellness. So what is the difference between laziness and depression?

What is laziness?

Laziness is often associated with a lack of desire or willingness to exert effort. It can manifest as procrastination, avoiding responsibilities or household chores, and choosing to do nothing when tasks are piling up. People might say, "I'm just too lazy to do it." Laziness, to some extent, is a common human experience and often linked to temporary situations or distractions. It's typically short-term and can be remedied with some self-discipline and time management.

Many times, laziness is a symptom of something bigger, such as depression or anxiety. If you’re feeling lazy you typically procrastinate on important tasks, feel tired frequently, feel a lack of self-worth, and are distracted easily. So what are some signs of laziness?

With laziness, you might feel low energy

If you’re feeling lazy, you most likely have low energy. You may feel tired throughout the day and unmotivated to do anything. Feeling tired can come from burnout or stress. If you’re burnt out at work or school, you may often find yourself wanting to sleep or relax since you’re overexerted physically and mentally. Do you think you’re burnt out? Take our quiz to find out!

If you do find yourself having low energy because you’re burnt out, you can use many different tools to help manage your stress. For example, mindfulness can help prevent and cope with burn out.

Mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, and mindful eating can all help with low energy levels and laziness.

If you feel lazy, the feeling comes and goes

If you’re feeling lazy today or have been for a while, you may recognize that you don’t always feel this way. You may have days that feel productive, you have high energy levels, or you are motivated to do things that you enjoy.

If this is the case, you may find certain tasks help you manage laziness. For example, creating to-do lists, planning out your week in your calendar, scheduling time for uninterrupted self-care, or taking a social media break.

Here are 7 tips for self-care during a busy work week. These tips may help when you feel those waves of laziness come and go.

What Causes Laziness?

Laziness, or a lack of motivation and energy to engage in productive activities, can be caused by various factors. It's important to understand that experiencing laziness from time to time is a normal part of life, but when it becomes persistent and interferes with daily functioning, it may indicate an underlying issue. Here are some common causes of laziness:

Mental Fatigue

Mental exhaustion can result from intense cognitive demands, such as a heavy workload, constant multitasking, or prolonged periods of concentration. When your mental resources are depleted, it can lead to a lack of motivation and an inclination to take a break or avoid tasks.

Physical Exhaustion

A lack of sufficient sleep or engaging in physically demanding activities can leave you feeling physically and mentally tired. When you're physically exhausted, even simple tasks can feel like a significant effort.


Procrastination is the act of delaying tasks that need to be accomplished. Over time, procrastination can lead to a backlog of tasks and a sense of overwhelm, making it even more challenging to start or complete them.


Burnout is the result of chronic stress and overwork. It can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced motivation, and feelings of laziness. Burnout often affects both your physical and mental energy levels. If you're feeling like you may be experiencing burnout, take this short quiz to find out.

Environmental Factors

Your physical surroundings can significantly impact your motivation and productivity. An uninspiring or cluttered environment can hinder your ability to focus and stay motivated. Creating a clean, organized, and aesthetically pleasing workspace can help combat laziness.

Unhealthy Lifestyle

A poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive consumption of stimulants like caffeine or alcohol can negatively affect your energy levels and overall wellbeing. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and balanced nutrition, is crucial to combating feelings of laziness.

In general, if you find that laziness is becoming a persistent and disruptive presence in your life, it's wise to reach out for support. Consider consulting with a mental health professional, counselor, or therapist to help you explore the root causes of your feelings and develop strategies to address them.

What is depression?

Clinical Depression is a complex mental health condition that can significantly affect an individual's daily life, including their motivation and energy levels. Common symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and a general sense of fatigue. Depression is not something that can be overcome through sheer willpower, as it often requires professional help and support.

It’s common to see mood changes occasionally or to experience short periods of feeling extreme happiness and, on the other hand, some sadness. However, if you find these mood changes last for several days or longer, you may want to consider talking to your health care provider. 

If you are feeling depressed, you may see that your mood can fluctuate from feeling content to feeling a burst of anger or sadness. You may also be experiencing other symptoms such as having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating, and eating more than usual or not enough.

People who experience depression can feel rapid mood changes

It’s common to see mood changes occasionally or to experience short periods of feeling extreme happiness and, on the other hand, some sadness. However, if you find these mood changes last for several days or longer, you may want to consider talking to your doctor. 

If you are feeling depressed, you may see that your mood can fluctuate from feeling content to feeling a burst of anger or sadness. You may also be experiencing other symptoms such as having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating, and eating more than usual or not enough. 

If you are concerned about your mood, talk to your doctor to explore what might be going on for you specifically.

One symptom of depression can be Anhedonia

Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. It's a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders.

Anhedonia can be broken up into two types: 

  • Social: You are disinterested in spending time with other people and prefer to not be in social situations.
  • Physical: You don’t receive pleasure from physical sensations such as touching, sex, or even eating. 

People may find that a hug actually makes them feel lonely or empty and eating makes them feel dissatisfied and guilty. However, anhedonia is not a black and white issue. Doctors say that it doesn’t have to be a complete dissatisfaction, but can also be a decreased level of pleasure for activities you had once enjoyed.

People who experience depression might sleep or daydream all day

Depression and sleep are closely related, as three-quarters of people who experience depression also have sleep issues. Depression can lead to poor sleep hygiene, but it can also work the other way around—poor sleep hygiene can lead to depression. 

Sleep issues due to depression may include insomnia, hypersomnia, and sleep apnea. There are several different types of treatments available to those experiencing sleeping problems, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia (aka CBT-I). CBT-I is a form of therapy aimed to increase the body’s connection between sleep and bed, improve sleep hygiene, and establish healthy sleeping habits. If you’re looking to explore CBT, take a look at some of our providers and schedule a free consultation to see if it’s a good fit.

In addition to sleep issues, those with depression may also daydream excessively. Daydreaming can be a way for the mind to escape certain circumstances it recognizes as negative or overwhelming. Although most people daydream, it can be problematic when it becomes addictive and consumes most of your thoughts. This can lead to you avoiding your personal obligations and relationships in reality. 

Recognize yourself in these symptoms? It's time to find support. Click here to match with a therapist who specializes in navigating through depression. Begin to reclaim your energy and motivation.

When you experience depression, it might be difficult to get out of bed in the morning 

When you’re suffering from depression, there can be an extreme lack of motivation to do anything. Getting out of bed in the morning doesn’t seem like a good idea if you’re not looking forward to your day. Especially if you enjoy the warm, comfortable, and safe feeling of being in your bed. 

If this sounds like you, it may help to create an easy routine that can be broken down into small steps. For example, if getting out of bed is difficult, set a goal to just pull your sheets back and sit up. Focus on just sitting up in bed rather than putting your feet on the ground. Once you’ve been able to master this step, your next step can be to walk to the restroom. Build these simple steps until you can create a morning routine that you’re comfortable and satisfied with.

People who are depressed might feel like they have no energy

While laziness can make it feel like you have low energy, depression can lead to no energy at all. This can manifest as extreme fatigue. Fatigue differs from tiredness because it can be chronic. Typically with tiredness, you have increased energy levels from a period of rest. However, with fatigue you may feel constantly tired for weeks or months even after a long night of sleep. 

If you’re constantly fatigued, you may also experience difficulty concentrating, headaches, dizziness, muscle or joint pain, and a sore throat. Symptoms may worsen with more physical or mental activity. 

They might also have trouble concentrating

You may find that you’re unable to concentrate for longer than just a few minutes. Sometimes this can just be a small annoyance. However, over time, this can greatly interfere with your daily life.

For example, you may find that you’re falling behind at work or school because it’s difficult to concentrate on one topic for a long period of time. You may miss out on important information during a meeting or struggle to meet a deadline on time. 

You may also find that some of your relationships suffer because it’s difficult to hold a conversation. You may find your mind wandering in the middle of a conversation, which the other person might perceive as a lack of consideration. 

Talking to a mental health provider about depression and improving your concentration can be helpful. They can offer guidance on what may work best for you and your environment. If you’re ready to start exploring therapy, schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with a MyWellbeing therapist today.

Some people who are depressed have suicidal thoughts

Approximately 280 million people around the world have depression. For many people, they’re able to manage their symptoms by talking to a mental health provider and making lifestyle changes. 

However, there is a percentage of people that are depressed who also suffer from suicidal ideation, which is a serious issue that needs immediate attention. 

Someone that may be struggling with suicidal ideation may openly talk or write about death or wanting to die, they may start giving away personal items, display aggressive behavior, have large changes in their mood, and withdraw from social situations. 

If you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or visit our Crisis Resource List. If you are in an emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.

One of the main differences between depression and laziness is that depression is felt more consistently

As mentioned before, it’s normal to find yourself in short periods of sadness. These periods may last a couple of days, but what if the feelings don’t go away after several weeks or months?

How long your depression lasts can depend on a few factors, such as if you’re receiving proper treatment or are making certain lifestyle changes. If you’re feeling intense feelings of sadness and loss of interest for more than two weeks, you should talk to your doctor or a mental health provider as soon as possible. 

When someone is depressed, they may find themselves having dark thoughts or feelings. Sometimes they come at random with no warning and can feel overwhelming or confusing. It can also be very scary when they first start coming to mind.

Have you ever been going about your day and suddenly have an unwanted thought or image that you can’t get out of your head? No matter how hard you try to put it aside, it keeps popping up in your mind. 

These are called intrusive thoughts and can vary in nature. For example, they may be sexual, violent, paranoid, or negative, such as the feeling of not being good enough or worthy. Learn more about negative thinking patterns and how to manage, interpret, and reframe them.

If you find that you’re experiencing disturbing thoughts that are interfering with your daily life, talk to a mental health provider. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with a MyWellbeing therapist to learn more about how therapy can help with negative thinking.

How do I get motivated if I’m feeling lazy?

If you’re feeling lazy, there are a number of ways to get back to feeling productive and having more energy. However, solutions are not one size fits all and it depends on each individual.

If you’re struggling to get motivated, consider talking to a therapist or wellness coach

A therapist or wellness coach can help you identify solutions based on your lifestyle or personality. For example, your provider may tell you to set SMART goals, which suggest choosing goals that are: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific.

Remove distractions to help you stay focused

If you find it difficult to finish writing emails or doing schoolwork because you’re constantly on your phone, try to keep your phone away from you by giving it to someone else to hold for a moment or keeping it in a drawer.

Breaking up big projects or tasks can help motivate you if you’re feeling lazy

Break up a big project into smaller parts and take frequent breaks. If you anticipate a project taking you three hours, try to take a few short 10-minute breaks in that period. During your break, get some fresh air, drink water, or stretch.

What should I do if I’m depressed?

If you’re feeling symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider. Your primary care physician can assist you with resources and point you in the right direction to seek mental health resources that are available to you. 

MyWellbeing also offers a free matching service that matches you with up to three providers that are the right fit for you based on preferences that are important to you. 

If you’re seeking some more direction, check out this group of in-house providers with MyWellbeing, who are all trained and supervised in issue areas like anxiety and depression. You can book your free phone consultation today to ensure they’re a good fit for you and your needs.

While you’re waiting for your first appointment, you may find it helpful to journal about some of the feelings and thoughts you’ve been experiencing in order to talk about it with a professional. If journaling isn’t for you, there are a few other activities you can try to process. 

Understanding your feelings and thoughts can be difficult, but taking a step in trying to process what you’re experiencing is an important part of healing. At minimum, you’re doing important learning and growing even just by reading this piece. We hope that it’s brought you some knowledge and relief.

If you or someone you know has depression and is experiencing suicidal ideation, it's crucial to seek help immediately. Reach out to a mental health professional, a counselor, or The National Suicide Prevention hotline for support. You can call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's important to share these thoughts with a trusted person who can provide help.

If you already see a therapist, try your best to keep your appointments consistent, even when things get overwhelming or busy. Of all the routines to stick to, the ones that support your mental health are the most important.

If you haven't started working with the therapist yet, adding that to your plate might seem like a burden, but it doesn't have to be. Match with a therapist in less than five minutes.

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About the author

Jareena is MyWellbeing's Community Manager and is dedicated to supporting MyWellbeing's providers in order for them to offer the best possible care for you. Jareena is a mental health advocate and aims to identify ways to destigmatize discussions around mental health and how to make care more accessible.

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