Is It Just Boredom Or Is It Depression? | Can They Be Related?
Over the years, we’ve evolved our approach to boredom. Earlier, when I used to get bored as a kid, I would read a comic book sitting in a corner of my living room, but now when I get bored, as an adult, I prefer to cook or maybe mindlessly scroll through my social media. It’s quite entertaining, sure, but what to do when all these options don’t seem enough to distract me?
Feeling bored is a very common issue if we look at it too closely. We all get bored daily – some during their work hours while others during their commute or free time. However, I’ve seen many people confuse their boredom with depression.
While boredom and depression might seem like an unlikely combination, there are some similarities between the two. And today, you’ll be reading about the difference between boredom and depression and how you can combat these feelings in your own way.
So, if you’ve been asking yourself, “Am I depressed or just bored?” then keep reading to learn what’s the link and what’s the difference between boredom and depression.
What Is Boredom?
If you’ve ever found yourself looking for anything distraction-worthy while waiting for your bus or when you switch between commercials when watching the TV, just so you could keep watching something interesting – this is what you can call boredom.
Boredom generally does not cause feelings of sadness, in fact, it can be good for your psychological health! However, boredom that can cause depression can be called existential or apathetic boredom. If you look at the definition of boredom, it can go something like this, “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest”.
In such a case, being depressed can cause existential boredom just as existential boredom can cause depression.
It’s natural to feel a general sense of meaninglessness when you’re bored. This feeling can eventually lead to depression. However, boredom is not always depression and vice versa.
Here are some signs of boredom that you should know;
- Lack of interest in anything, however periodically
- Inability to relax or rest
- Lack of excitement
- Feeling apathetic toward something of importance
- Lack of concern
- Lack of motivation
If you experience anxiety, then you can be more prone to develop depression if you are exposed to long periods of boredom.
Now, let’s take a look at what depression is.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder that can cause cognitive, behavioral, and even physical symptoms that can interfere with your daily life – including relationships, professional life, and social life.
Here are some common signs of depression that you should know;
- Frequently experiencing a low mood
- Sudden mood swings
- Loss of interest in doing things that you once enjoyed
- Significant changes in your appetite
- Inability to concentrate
- Experiencing fatigue and low energy levels
- Significant changes in your sleep patterns
- Experiencing feelings of worthlessness
- Thinking about death – self-harm or suicide
Only a professional mental health counselor can provide an official diagnosis of depression. If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, then reach out to a professional for diagnosis and treatment.
Can Boredom Cause Depression?
There’s no easy answer to this question. Boredom can motivate you to pursue a hobby or an interest, reconnect with your loved ones, and even promote self-reflection. But for clinically depressed people, boredom can pull you into despair and can make your depression worse.
Boredom and depression are linked and especially if boredom is not addressed on time. When boredom is left unaddressed for a long time, then it can even increase the risk of behaviors like increased alcohol use, increased addictive behaviors, and even thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
There have been researches that suggest that there’s a link between chronic boredom and depression. The more bored you are and the sadder you may feel. Over time, unaddressed boredom can lead to depression or even worsen it. When you’re constantly bored, you may engage in Doomscrolling or oversleeping.
All these activities can cause lethargy, inactivity, and even disconnect from reality. When you lose connection with others, it can even lead to isolation, rejection, and feelings of abandonment.
Boredom And Depression: The Differences
Boredom and depression might share signs and symptoms, but there are still differences between boredom and depression. Of course, the symptoms and their intensity might vary between different people and their experiences. Here are some common differences between boredom and depression.
When you’re bored and depressed, then you have difficulty concentrating and have no motivation. But when you’re bored, you may experience;
- Sadness and frustration
- Engage in snacking mindlessly
However, when you’re depressed, you may experience;
- Social withdrawal
- Disordered eating
- Sleep troubles
- Despair, and rage
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Physical pain and migraines
- Loss of interest in general activities
One of the main differences between boredom and depression is the time and severity. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you need to at least meet the criteria set in the DSM-5. You also need to be experiencing depression symptoms for at least six or more months.
Experts say that depression can feel like a constant heaviness in your bones while boredom is random. Depression can also manifest in your physical movements and speech while boredom has no such criteria.
How To Combat Boredom Depression?
If you’re experiencing boredom and depression, then it would do you good to seek professional help. However, there are other ways you can combat boredom and depression;
Check In With Yourself
Try to focus on your needs and what it is that you’re feeling. Try to name the emotions. You may be overworked or might not be taking enough rest. Such things might be contributing to your boredom.
If you’re bored and might think that it’s leading you to depression, then it’s a good idea to get busy. Engage in something you love. Even listening to music while doing different activities can help.
Sometimes, talking to a supportive person can help you alleviate your mood and make you feel better. Connect with a friend or a family member. You can also reach out to support groups for help.
Try Something New
You can also engage in different activities to alleviate your boredom. Here are some activities you can try to combat boredom;
- Read a book
- Practice mindfulness
- Cook or bake
- Go on a walk
Unlike boredom, depression can affect you mentally and emotionally. However, if boredom is left untreated, then it could lead to depression. If you let your boredom become chronic, it could cause other risky behavior such as alcohol use disorder, impulsivity, etc.
While it could be hard to treat depression, you can reach out to a professional mental health counselor for support. Don’t let boredom cause your depression. So, if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or a professional counselor.
All you need is to take the first step and the rest will fall into place.
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