In general, there seems to be this pervasive opinion that depression consists of tears, tissues, and sad music. Because of this, depression goes unnoticed within the lives of so many people who struggle with their “laziness,” or their “inability to stay focused,” amongst a number of other issues, when the truth is, they’re simply depressed and do not realize it.
1 in 5 Americans currently do or will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Mental illness has only recently become “big news” or a “trending topic,” and people have a hard time determining whether they simply have a few little personality quirks, or if they’re actually mentally ill.
If you’ve ever been accused of being lazy or unmotivated, chances are that perhaps the accusations are far off from the truth, and you simply suffer from a mental illness you’ve never considered before.
1. Lack of Ambition
If you’ve more often than not found yourself preferring to stay in bed during the day, streaming movies on your laptop, you aren’t necessarily in the minority– but if this desire tends to get in the way of work, or going to school, or otherwise chasing personal goals, you may soon hear accusations of being a “deadbeat,” or perhaps a “mooch” if you’re living with your parents or other family members.
However, one of the most detrimental symptoms of depression is the way it makes you feel numb to your surroundings, and leaves you with little in terms of motivation. You might find yourself calling in sick to work, putting off spending time with friends, or even forgetting to eat full meals, simply because it’s too difficult to get out of bed. Mostly, you don’t really see any reason to. That’s the depression talking, telling you there isn’t any point in taking a shower and getting dressed, cooking something for lunch, or texting your friend back, simply because lying in bed sounds so much easier.
2. Insomnia and Hypersomnia
One of the most distinguished of all “lazy” attributes is oversleeping, also known as hypersomnia. Whether it’s daily naps, sleeping in late and missing important appointments, constantly slipping into dreamland during your weekend-long movie excursions mentioned in the last section, oversleeping is a major proponent of depression, and it goes hand in hand with being unmotivated.
Next comes hypersomnia’s cousin, insomnia, which everyone is prone to now and again. Sleepless nights staring at the ceiling, wondering why you can’t seem to ever fall asleep– and occasionally, this is totally normal, particularly when you’re stressed or have a lot on your mind. But, if you find yourself lying awake more nights than not, there’s likely a more serious underlying cause.
3. Trouble Keeping up Personal Hygiene
Skipping a shower every now and again isn’t such a big deal, as sometimes life gets in the way. If you’ve skipped more than one shower, however, with seemingly no desire to remedy that, chances are you’re suffering from some sort of depression without realizing it.
Hygiene expands past just your bathing routine, as well, including washing clothes, cleaning your room/home, taking out the trash, simple things in life that are meant to be done regularly to keep your overall health in check. With trash piling up in the trashcan, and empty food containers littering your floor, it’s likely you’re not just a slob, but instead can’t ever actually find the motivation to clean up after yourself. This doesn’t make you a disgusting human being, either, just one with an undiagnosed mental illness.
While mental illness is slowly becoming more and more understood and talked about, there still exists stigma against those who suffer from it. Those with depression are unknowingly labeled as lazy, ineffectual, slobbish, standoffish… that is, when they’re not being typecast into this “Debbie downer crying into her pillow” trope. This is harmful in more ways than just one, of course– because such a stereotype exists, it makes it difficult for more depression sufferers to realize what depression actually is. They think to themselves, “I haven’t cried in days/weeks/months, I’m definitely not depressed, it has to be something else wrong with me.”
The truth is, depression affects different people in different ways, and consists of a laundry list of symptoms, including, but not limited to:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
If you find yourself exhibiting similar symptoms, but have never considered depression to be a possible cause, please do yourself a favor and schedule an appointment with a doctor or therapist. It might not be that you’re “lazy,” “dirty,” or “without ambition,” like others claim (or maybe you yourself think) — it might all have to simply do with the chemistry in your brain.