Depression and Procrastination: Are They Related
Depression can drive people to keep postponing tasks in a variety of ways, including:
Furthermore, procrastination can make people feel depressed or exacerbate existing depression, for example, when it causes people to feel guilty or ashamed about their inability to act on time when it causes people to feel stressed, or when it causes people to put off getting treatment for their problems. This can result in a depression-procrastination loop, in which depression motivates people to procrastinate, which causes them to become more depressed, which encourages them to procrastinate even more, and so on.
Not All Procrastinators are Depressed
Although this depression-procrastination link exists, there is significant variation in when and how it happens. This suggests that not all depressed people postpone and that those that do, don’t necessarily do so because of their melancholy, or exclusively because of their depression. Furthermore, people postpone for a variety of reasons other than depression, such as anxiety and perfectionism, thus not everyone who procrastinates is depressed.
What are the Characteristics of Depressed Procrastinators
Depressed procrastinators are those who postpone significantly and do so primarily as a result of their depression. As a result, their procrastination is typically motivated by difficulties such as decreased interest in tasks, a lack of motivation, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating.
Furthermore, depressive procrastinators frequently have associated disorders such as irrational beliefs, pessimism, learned helplessness, and neuroticism. They are also likely to have low levels of resilience traits like self-compassion, mindfulness, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.
Procrastination in depressed people may be influenced by factors other than sadness, such as worry and perfectionism. Some of these reasons are linked to depression in the sense that they frequently co-occur with it and have the potential to intensify or be exacerbated by it.
However, depressed procrastinators may be somewhat motivated to postpone by factors unrelated to melancholy, such as abstract aspirations. Furthermore, depressed procrastinators are generally characterized by traits that make them less likely to procrastinate for a variety of reasons that commonly lead to procrastination; for example, they generally exhibit low susceptibility to temptation, making them less likely to procrastinate due to available distractions.
How to Deal with Depression-Based Procrastination
To deal with depression, you should normally seek the assistance of a licensed expert (e.g., a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist), who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment, which may include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. This can help to reduce depression and the problems that it causes, such as procrastination.
In addition to this, there are other anti-procrastination tactics that you may find useful, primarily to avoid procrastinating. Among these techniques are the following:
Divide your task into tiny, doable steps:
For example, if you have a major assignment that feels daunting, such as writing a research paper, you can divide it into smaller pieces, such as establishing an outline, locating relevant materials, and writing the introduction.
Begin with a small step:
To alleviate the pressure involved with getting started, commit to writing only one phrase or exercising for only two minutes while allowing yourself permission to stop after that little initial step.
Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes:
Accept that your work will not be great, especially in the initial draft.
Determine what you’re afraid of and address your concerns:
For example, if you recognize that you are terrified of receiving unfavorable feedback from someone who isn’t particularly important to you, you can tell yourself that their feedback is irrelevant.
Prepare for the unexpected:
Determine which distractions may encourage you to postpone and plan how you will deal with them, for example.
Alternate between duties:
For example, if you are stuck on a task and cannot move forward, switch to another one until you’re ready to return to the first.
Plan your work around your productivity cycles:
For example, if you find it easier to concentrate on creative chores in the morning, plan them as much as possible during that period.
Enhance your working atmosphere:
For example, if your current workplace has a lot of distracting background noise, invest in noise-cancelling headphones or relocate to a quieter location.
Expand your social support system:
You can, for example, locate a role model to emulate or an authoritative figure to hold you accountable, or you can socialize with people who drive you to make progress while avoiding contact with people who stress you out.
Get adequate sleep:
For example, if you need to work hard on jobs that need intense focus, make sure to take enough pauses to avoid becoming exhausted. To motivate yourself, remind yourself that, while obtaining enough rest may limit your productivity in the short term, it is frequently much better for you in the long run, both in terms of productivity and well-being.
Improve your self-efficacy:
This is your confidence in your capacity to carry out the actions required to achieve your objectives. It can be developed in a variety of methods, such as identifying the tactics that can be used to attain your goals and then considering how to implement those techniques.
Forgive yourself for your previous procrastination:
For example, if you need to get started on a task that you’ve been postponing for a long time, you can say, “I shouldn’t have postponed this task in the first place, but that’s in the past, and what’s important now is to go on and simply get this done.”
Improve your self-compassion:
Specifically, you should cultivate the three components of self-compassion: self-kindness (being pleasant to oneself), common humanity (recognizing that everyone faces obstacles), and mindfulness (accepting your feelings in a non-judgmental manner).
Recognize and praise your progress:
For example, if you’ve met your study goals for a week in a row, you might reward yourself with a tasty treat.
Choosing the Best Anti-Procrastination Technique
When deciding which of these tactics to apply, it can be helpful to first determine why you procrastinate, as well as when and how you do so, since this will help you locate the best anti-procrastination techniques to use in your specific situation. This can assist you in determining how exactly your depression causes you to postpone, as well as perhaps identifying factors other than sadness that are causing you to procrastinate, such as anxiety and perfectionism.
However, if you realize that the primary cause of your procrastination is depression, you should generally aim to treat that first, most likely with the assistance of a licensed professional, as this is important both for dealing with your procrastination and for reducing other symptoms of depression.
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