December 03, 2013

Bored. To. Death.

One of the symptoms of depression is "anhedonia."  It is defined as "inability to enjoy doing the things that are normally enjoyable," or "Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities." 

That just kind of sounds like boredom.  It can't be all that bad, can it?

Well yes, yes it can. 

A philosophical Wikipedia editor describes the feeling well in the entry on Boredom  "Without stimulus or focus, the individual is confronted with nothingness, the meaninglessness of existence, and experiences existential anxiety."

I'll give you some examples of things you might enjoy, and how you might feel about them if you were depressed:

You love to watch football.  You have a favorite team and you never miss one of their games. 
But now that you're depressed, you really don't care about it.  You think it would be nice if your team won, but you can't watch more than a few minutes of a game until you're bored with it.
You love to read.  You can read for hours on end when you have the opportunity.
But now that you're sick, you can only read a few pages.  Then it feels too hard, and just not worth it to keep reading.  If you have another book started, you might pick that up for a few minutes and put it down again.  Blah.
You like to work on projects around the house.  It could be a remodeling project or a crafts project and you love to spend time on it. 
But you're depressed now.  It's almost impossible to get up enough motivation to work on a project.  And even if you finally get motivated, you lose interest in the project very quickly.  It's just no fun.
You have several favorite TV shows.  You know what night they're on, you wait excitedly for that night, then you follow the plot closely.
From your place of depression, the shows just don't matter anymore.  You may tune in, but it's an effort to concentrate on the show.  It's hard to believe, but you just don't care about what's going on.
You love to do puzzles.  Crossword, word search, Sudoku, scrambles -- you love the challenges.
Depression makes them feel like a waste of time.  Besides, your brain just can't come up with the answers.
You can surf the Web for hours.  One site directs you to another, then to another, and yet another, until you've used up your spare time.  There's so much cool stuff out there!
You're sick now, and things just aren't as interesting.  For some reason, it feels like a huge effort to type and click, and you close your laptop and put it away after a short time.
You're a napper.  You can always curl up and go to sleep for a short or long nap.
Now that you're depressed, you lie there and think, "I'm so tired, but I don't even feel like doing this.  I can't sleep anyway." 

So.  Now what.  There is just nothing you want to do. 
You are too antsy to sit still and do something quiet, but you are too weary to do anything that requires motion.
When you add this to the other challenges of depression, it's like being bored to death. 


  1. this is very well said(written), I still struggle with this. Even with my job which I LOVE,(selling art supplies online),there are days when I think "what a waste of time, I don't make a difference, I should be doing something more meaningful"

    1. Thanks, Mary. I find that many of the symptoms of depression are not totally alleviated by meds OR talk therapy. They may get quite a bit better but then raise their ugly heads, either occasionally or chronically. Ugh.

      But, by golly, I'd bet your customers think you make a difference! "Meaningful" comes in many flavors!

    2. Also, Mary, I thank you for confirming that I adequately described this particular symptom. I hope to describe some others, too, so maybe people can understand them.