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

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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.

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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

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

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20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

    If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

    The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

    Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

    There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

    Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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    Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

    Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

    Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

    • The idea for Google -Larry Page
    • Alternating current generator -Tesla
    • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
    • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
    • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

    …and many, many more.

    Fact #4: Premonition dreams

    There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

    You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

    • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
    • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
    • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
    • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

    Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

    Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

    Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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    Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

    In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

    Fact #7: Sexual dreams

    The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

    Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

      Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

      Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

      • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
      • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
      • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

      Fact #9: Dream drug

      There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

      Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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        The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

        Fact #11: Increased brain activity

        You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

        Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

        As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

        Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

        In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

        Fact #13: Pets dream too

          Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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          Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

          Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

          Fact #15: Blind people dream too

          Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

          Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

            It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

            Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

            Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

            Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

            You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

            Fact #19: Gender differences

            Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

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            Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

            As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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