How to Cope with Lack of Motivation in Major Depression
Lack of Motivation: A Common Symptom of Major Depression
As someone who suffers from major depression, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to have little or absolutely no motivation to do just about anything in life. It seems that depression can rob a person of any joy that normally comes from anticipating doing things—even favorite things like long-loved hobbies and crafts, playing with pets and children, exercising, and so forth.
For me personally, I have always been very motivated to get to work. As an entrepreneur, I have enjoyed starting businesses and managing them. Daily, I have eagerly anticipated getting to work to assess the "state of the union," tweak performances, and provide oversights and leadership. Seeing the work my husband and I have begun spring into action and thrive has been exciting and rewarding. But, depression had changed all of that for me.
What Lack of Motivation Feels Like to Someone with Major Depression
Lack of motivation can make it feel as if there is no reason to do anything. Most adults can easily see what needs to be done. Someone with major depression cannot get it done. This is the difference. For most adults, just seeing what needs to be done brings with it the motivation to get the task or job done. That is all the motivation that is needed. Depression somehow takes that normal drive out of the person and leaves them with the understanding and knowledge of what needs to be done but without the will to do it. Knowing that others may judge their behavior as lazy, incompetent, or otherwise apathetic adds feelings of guilt to the person with depression.
If this all sounds familiar to you, know that you're not alone. This can be helped, especially by focusing on the three tips that I'll now address in this article.
Ways to Cope with Lack of Motivation in Depression
Below, learn about three major ways to cope with a lack of motivation if you're depressed.
1. Add Structure to Your Days
Add structure to your days. Most people function better on a schedule and every time you knock off a scheduled task, this yields a feeling of completion and efficiency which can make you feel good. If you work independently or on your own schedule, still try to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it so that there's a routine in your life that gives your day a purpose. Other things that you can do include create a task list of daily chores or to-do's and work to accomplish some tasks on it each day.
Be sure to give yourself credit and plenty of positive self-talk for getting some things done at the end of every day. The more you do this, this more it will ring true and feel better for you!
2. Eat Well and Get Plenty of Rest
Eat well and get plenty of rest. This is crucial and lends to good health, which is essential for everyone's quality of life. Nothing can replace taking good care of yourself when you are experiencing depression. You are going to feel tired. Combat fatigue by being sure you get adequate rest at night and take a short nap in the afternoon if needed. Eat good balanced meals and snacks. Some foods that can help give you energy are:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Caffeine in healthy doses—know your limit or you might get a crash
- Whole wheat and whole grains
- Brown rice
- Healthy sweets like dark chocolate
- Legumes (beans, hummus, lentils, etc.)
- Water is key! If you're not hungry but feeling low on energy, get some fresh air and take a few healthy sips of water
As far as rest goes, it's best not to sleep too much or too little. Sleeping too little obviously will make you tired, but sleeping the day away can leave you feeling sluggish and even less motivated. Stick to the recommended amount of sleep for your age group and, as mentioned above, keep up with structure and a good diet.
3. Power Through
That's right. When you really don't feel like doing something, do it anyway. The motivation or urge to work, exercise, play, craft, or whatever it is you would like to feel like doing may not appear while you are depressed. But don't miss out on the daily activities of your life, the big and the small, because the motivation isn't there. Jump in and get started when you can. At the end of the day you will feel better having accomplished something—anything at all. Depression may rob you of motivation; don't let it rob you of your life. Remember, every time you end up powering through and doing something, you're beating depression at its own game. It's better to have done something than just sit around and think about doing it.
Think of it as going to the gym—while many dread the prospect of getting ready to do so and actually going, no one ever really regrets having done so and most of us feel so much better afterwards. Stay strong!