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When You Feel Bored for a Long Time, It Can Be a Sign of Depression

When You Feel Bored for a Long Time, It Can Be a Sign of Depression

When someone says they’re bored, what do you say to them?

That they should look for a new hobby? Visit a new place? Find something useful to do?

You probably wouldn’t recommend that they talk to their doctor about depression.

However, feeling bored, uninterested and low on motivation can be a sign of depression, particularly if it goes on for a long time.

But how do you tell normal boredom and depression apart?

Read on to find out.

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Boredom is not as simple as you think it is, it is multi-faceted.

Although you might think of it as a pretty simple feeling, researchers have discovered that there are actually five different types of boredom. [1]

We’ve summarised the different types below.

Indifference: feeling uninterested of anything around you

Indifferent boredom happens when you’re just not bothered. You don’t care much about whatever’s going on around you, and you might be daydreaming, staring into space, or feeling like you’re about to fall asleep. It’s the way you might feel during a particularly dull math class.

Apathy: feeling stuck and helpless to change the situation

Feeling apathetic and uninterested is a type of boredom that often arises from feelings of helplessness. You might experience apathetic boredom if you feel trapped in your life and unable to change your circumstances. This type of boredom is common in high school students [2] and can be a sign of depression.

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Calibrating: feeling unmotivated of the current task

Ever get so bored that you wish you could be doing anything else, but you’re not quite sure what? You’re experiencing calibrating boredom, which often occurs during dull, repetitive tasks.

Reactant: feeling mad and annoyed

Sometimes you’re so bored that you feel angry, frustrated and aggressive. You might snap at the people you’re with or storm out for no reason. This is reactant boredom, and it can be one of the most distressing forms. You might find yourself feeling extremely restless and obsessing over the other things you’d like to be doing.

Searching: feeling you should be doing something else

Searching boredom feels uncomfortable and motivates you to find new activities to make yourself feel better. For example, if you’re bored at home, you might call a friend to go out for coffee.

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Identifying the types of boredom that you experience most often can be really helpful.

You’ll be able to identify the factors that are making you bored, and look for positive changes you could make.

So…how can you tell boredom and depression apart?

It’s important not to jump to conclusions straight away – just being bored doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed.

However, staying vigilant ensures that you can seek treatment straight away if your boredom seems to be a symptom of a more serious problem.

Read on for tips on spotting the differences between boredom and depression in adults and children. [3]

For children, boredom can be easily solved.

When a child is bored, they’ll usually be keen to be engaged in a new activity. For example, a bored child who’s sitting around looking miserable might cheer up the moment you offer to play a game with them, take them to the park, or bake a cake together.

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On the other hand, a child who is bored as a result of depression may not be responsive to activities. They might refuse to take part in play, ask to be left alone, or show little interest in things they normally enjoy.

It can be hard for children to understand their feelings and express themselves clearly.

If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, it’s always a good idea to speak to a professional.

But for adults, to figure out what’s going on, you need to reflect on yourself.

Some boredom is normal, but when it starts to impact your day-to-day life, it’s time to seek help.

Have you experienced any of the following?

  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities you used to enjoy.
  • Feeling hopeless about your boredom.
  • Being unable to take steps to alleviate your boredom.
  • Not doing important things because you feel so bored.
  • Getting angry with yourself for feeling bored.

Speaking to a medical professional will allow you to get to the bottom of why you feel the way you do. They’ll then help you develop a plan to improve your mental health and decrease boredom.

Boredom isn’t always harmless.

Watch out for key warning signs and seek help immediately if you think you might be depressed.

Reference

More by this author

Eloise Best

Content Writer

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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