Procrastination & Depression

Louis Laves-Webb

April 20, 2022

“Maybe later…”

Do underlined depressive symptoms unconsciously contribute to procrastination or do procrastination behaviors lead to feelings of depression?  The intersection of procrastination and depression is a weighted and interesting picture of overall mental health.  Depressed feelings and procrastination are very common occurrences.  At Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates we’ve supported numerous clients to understand and navigate feelings of depression and reduce procrastination. Please read on to learn more about the relationship between procrastination and depression.

Why Do People Procrastinate?

Procrastination can serve a couple of different purposes. It can serve as a means of avoidance of uncomfortable or particularly emotionally challenging circumstances. This type of “Avoidance procrastination” can ultimately contribute to more significant feelings of stagnation.  Furthermore, rationalizations and cognitive distortions can also further contribute to these avoidance patterns.  Although avoidance can appear to “serve” individuals in the short term, in the longer-term avoidance can often inevitably contribute to depressive symptoms and feelings of almost insurmountable responsibilities. Additionally, procrastination can serve as an intense adrenaline charge that can serve as a self-constructed motivator. However, once this adrenaline “dump” occurs it can leave the individual feeling flat and exhausted. Waiting till the final hour to complete your homework can “force” you to get it done, however, the intense highs and lows that this type of procrastination brings can leave individuals feeling emotionally flooded and psychologically spent.

Procrastination, depression, and other emotions

The intersection of depression and procrastination can have a couple of different variables at play. Lower or fluctuating Self-esteem, perfectionism, and self-loathing are often bedmates of procrastination and depression. A “strategy” of procrastination is often used to mitigate challenging feelings of low self-esteem, perfectionism, or self-loathing type experiences. One could think of procrastination in this scenario s a psychological “sword” that wards off these often unconscious and intolerable feelings.Ironically, Individuals with more profound feelings of depression may actually utilize procrastination to shore up psychological space for their depression. Individuals in this situation may be using procrastination as more of a psychological “shield” thereby defending against any perceived threat that they fear may exacerbate their depression.

Does Procrastination Lead To Depression?

Procrastination that is pervasive and ongoing can lead to depression. The only way out of most situations and the primary way to true fulfillment usually resides on the other side of the challenge.  True Fulfillment exists on the other side of facing your challenges head-on. By definition, procrastination seeks to do just the opposite of this and perpetuates short-term and rationalized approaches to difficult situations. This is a road that can inevitably lead to depression. Genuine Satisfaction simply does not come from avoiding hard things, difficult emotions, or inherent responsibilities.

Tips To Combat Procrastination From Feelings Of Depression

There are things you can do to combat procrastination that stems from feeling depressed. Following the tips below can help you get more done while you’re feeling depressed.

  • Cultivate space for yourself and your feelings of depression. Suspend judgment and have even greater compassion for yourself and your depression
  • Don’t wait to feel good to “take action”. Sometimes, we need to engage in the behavior even if we don’t exactly feel up to it. “Face it till you make it”
  • Face your challenges right away and then rest and make space for your depression. Work on doing the hard things first.
  • Channel your inner rebel. Rebel against your avoidance, perfectionism, or depression.

Oftentimes The Only Way Out is Truly Through.  Learn more at Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates

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