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Procrastination & Depression in PsychCentral

  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) establishes that an episode of depression can include symptoms such as:
    • loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
    • decreased focus and concentration
    • feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, or emptiness
    • sense of worthlessness or guilt
    • low energy and fatigue
    • thoughts of death or suicide ideation

According to Dr. Shauna Pollard, a licensed clinical psychologist from Rockville, Maryland, these symptoms of depression can lead to procrastination. In turn, procrastinating can sometimes worsen depression.

“We often put off or avoid experiences that we think unpleasant with the assumption that we will feel differently at a later time point,” she explains. “A person with depression will often overestimate how unpleasant a task will be or underestimate how long it will take them to complete [it].”

This can create a cycle of procrastinating and depression symptoms, says Pollard. The depression and associated pessimism can keep you from asking for help or problem solving around barriers that make the task unpleasant.

  • “Depression can make it difficult to stay calm and keep moving forward due to self-defeating thoughts. For example, that you’ll never be good enough or you might as well give up,” Pollard says.
  • Ask a friend or family member to sit in the same room while you work on an important task, suggests Pollard, to help hold you accountable. Accountability partners can keep you motivated and feeling supported.
  • For important things to get done, you may need to sometimes have extra help when procrastination is an outcome of depression.

“Outsource tasks,” Pollard recommends, “if possible, like laundry, meal prep, grocery shopping, cleaning, even if only for a brief period of time.”

Read the full article on PsychCentral