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The Difference Between Laziness and Depression

The Difference Between Laziness and Depression

The Difference Between Laziness and Depression

Published: April 14, 2022

Sometimes, symptoms of depression can look a bit like laziness. If you find yourself doing fewer activities or struggling to complete tasks, you may start wondering if you are depressed or lazy.

However, depression is a medical condition that has nothing to do with being lazy, and it is important not to confuse the two concepts. Understanding the key differences between laziness and depression can help you get the support you need.

Is Laziness a Symptom of Depression?

No, laziness is not a formal symptom of depression.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines eight symptoms of clinical depression (also known as major depression or major depressive disorder). For a person to receive a diagnosis, they must exhibit five or more of the following symptoms for at least two weeks. These symptoms are:

  • Experiencing a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significantly decreased interest in everyday activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain, or changes in appetite
  • A noticeable slowing down of thought or physical movement
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty thinking or making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempt

While laziness is not included on the list, several depression symptoms can look like what we understand as laziness.


Fatigue, or extreme tiredness, can affect your ability to engage in everyday life. You may feel too tired to work, see friends, or perform day-to-day tasks. Over 90% of people with depression may experience fatigue.

Fatigue can also affect your ability to care for yourself - low energy levels may stop you from maintaining good personal hygiene, doing household chores, or eating healthy meals.

While these behaviors may be confused with laziness, it is important to recognize the reality of the condition. Fatigue is not a choice - it is a potentially debilitating condition that prevents someone from doing the things they want to do.

If you are experiencing fatigue, try to be kind to yourself. Try not to feel lazy or guilty about not doing things, and be proud of what you do manage to complete in a day.

Loss of Interest in Day-to-Day Life

One of the most common symptoms of depression is the loss of interest in everyday activities or the inability to enjoy things. This condition is known as anhedonia.

A depressed person struggling with anhedonia may stop doing the activities they used to enjoy. This might mean quitting sports clubs, taking a break from their hobbies, or losing interest in creative outlets.

However, while someone with anhedonia may spend a lot of time "doing nothing", this is not because they are a lazy person. Most of us engage in hobbies because we have some interest in them or enjoy them. When this is taken away, it can be incredibly difficult to find the motivation to continue.

Suicide Prevention

Some people living with severe depression experience suicidal thoughts, ideations, or make suicide attempts.

If you are considering self-harm or suicide, remember that you are not alone. You can access free and confidential support through The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Am I Depressed or Lazy?

Depression manifests differently in every individual, and only a mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis of depression. If you notice any symptoms of depression in yourself, it's a good idea to visit a healthcare professional.

Some signs that you may be living with a mood disorder include:

  • Significant difference - You notice a significant change in your energy levels, thinking patterns, and behaviors
  • Difficulty meeting responsibilities - You find that you are unable or are not fulfilling basic responsibilities, like caring for yourself, keeping your job, or performing everyday tasks

Different Types of Depression

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common types of depression. However, there are several other types of depression with their own diagnostic criteria.

Even within these types, depression looks different for everyone. This can make it difficult more difficult to recognize depression in yourself or others.

Some other types of depression include:

  • Bipolar Depression - Alternating periods of depressed and "manic" moods
  • Post-Partum Depression - Depressive episodes that occur after childbirth
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder - Depressive episodes that only occur in one season (usually winter) with periods of recovery in between

How to Support Someone With Depression

Low self-confidence, excessive guilt, and feelings of worthlessness are characteristic of depression.

Feelings of low self-esteem may make depressed people more likely to view themselves as lazy. They may feel bad about their condition and how it is affecting their life, rather than appreciating the extent of their mental illness.

If you know someone living with depression, it is important not to reinforce this perspective. Saying things like "just snap out of it," or "just try harder" can make a person feel as though they are to blame for the situation.

Instead, listen to what they have to say, validate their feelings, offer emotional support, and let them know you are there to help. If they are interested in seeking professional help, you can support them in finding a mental health professional or accompany them to appointments.

Treatment for Depression

Depression is a mental illness that affects chemical balances and functions in your brain. Recovery from depression is not a question of willpower - overcoming depression often involves mental health treatment and professional support.

In recent years, there has been a surge in scientific research exploring mental disorders, their prevention, and paths to recovery. There is now a range of evidence-based treatment methods available to help people recover from depression.

Every individual is different, and no one treatment works for everyone. You may need to try different treatments to find what works best for you.

Mental Wellness Treatment at GIA Miami

At GIA Miami, we offer several effective treatments for depression, founded at the forefront of scientific research. Our treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy - Numerous studies have shown psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to be effective in treating depressive disorders. In CBT sessions, you work with a therapist to identify negative thoughts and behavioral patterns and change them into more positive ones. CBT focuses on the present, aiming to make meaningful changes in your mood and behaviors throughout the course of therapy.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy - TMS therapy is an innovative treatment method that uses gentle magnetic waves to stimulate brain cells, leading to pronounced changes in mood and behavior. Cleared by the FDA in 2008, TMS can be a life-changing treatment for people living with depression, especially those who have not responded to medication.
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment- Sometimes, mood disorders like depression can lead to substance abuse. If you are struggling with addiction alongside depression, GIA can treat the conditions simultaneously, supporting holistic and long-lasting recovery.

At GIA, we understand that reaching out for help can be hard, and aim to make to process as smooth as possible. Our expert team delivers our services with compassion, confidentiality, and respect. We offer our services online through our telehealth program, so you can access treatment wherever you are.

If you are living with depression, we're here to help. With our support, you can overcome depression and become the best version of yourself.

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