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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

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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 September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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