Boredom & Sadness Correlation
Our approach to free time has changed over the years. With modern technology, we’re used to always having something to entertain us. But what happens when there isn’t anything to distract you? What happens when you feel like you have nothing to do? Many people are starting to think that they’re experiencing mental illness because of their lack of interest or motivation. Understanding the connection between feeling sad or empty, and feeling uninterested in things around you is crucial to better understanding your well-being.
There isn’t an easy, straightforward answer. Boredom motivates some individuals to rediscover a hobby, explore a new interest, reconnect with friends or family, meet new people, promote self-reflection, or even pursue a new career path. But for those who are clinically depressed, feeling bored can be a pit of despair because it gives the brain an excuse to drift toward negative thoughts, making the depression worse.
Chronic boredom and depression are linked, and boredom can become destructive over time if it’s not proactively addressed. It may even lead to high-risk behaviors like increased alcohol or drug use, increased sexual activity and/or sexual partners, addictive behaviors such as gambling, shopping, or eating, and even self-harming thoughts and behaviors. Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the connection between feeling bored and depression, and what you can do to overcome it.
You can experience boredom while you’re waiting for someone to pick you up from work, at night when you’re supposed to be sleeping, and in between commercials while you’re watching television. None of these instances are enough to ignite feelings of sadness, but they can be troubling to those who are already diagnosed with it.
The type of boredom that can cause depression is called existential or apathetic boredom; in Alex Lickerman’s medically reviewed article “Boredom,” he defined it as the inability to find anything interesting in life. In this case, having depression can cause an existential feeling of being bored just as existential boredom can cause depression. People who can’t find anything interesting generally conclude that life is meaningless, and then they become depressed.
While depression is one of the most common mental health challenges, it’s very treatable. Medically reviewed studies have found that web-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can reduce depression in patients. When you understand the cause of your depression, your boredom, and your treatment options, you can learn to overcome it.
What is Boredom?
Feeling boredom is a psychological state experienced when an individual:
- Lacks interest in anything during brief intermittent periods or more steady periods
- Finds him or herself unable to rest or relax
- Feels little to no excitement
- Displays apathy, lack of concern, or little interest in something that would normally be important
- Finds it difficult to get or stay motivated
Those who already have anxiety are more prone to developing depression when they experience long shifts of boredom.
They’re likely suppressing negative thoughts already, so when the free time arises, they sometimes let their mind wander and the negative thoughts take over as they may be unable to control them. Online therapy can help reduce symptoms of depression, such as feeling bored.
Types of Boredom
Many individuals have experienced feeling bored at some point in their lives, but what type of boredom? Knowing the type of boredom you’re experiencing may help you to effectively counter it. A medically reviewed follow-up study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in 2006 identified five different types of boredom and how it can manifest in many ways:
- In some cases, an individual will feel calm and cut off from the distant world; this can be described as “relaxation” or being “in their bubble.”
- Another type is often described as an unpleasant state of feeling bored with “wandering thoughts or not knowing what to do.” The individual may display an openness to unrelated activities, but not presenting activities as they may have a difficult time putting their focus on present tasks.
- Described as a more agitated negative feeling, it prompts the person to actively search and look for relief by thinking about activities or tasks to engage in or reaching out to another person.
- Some individuals experience elevated negative feelings of uneasiness and/or aggression. They may have a strong desire to escape feeling bored and are more likely to engage in fulfilling alternative activities or reach out to another person to talk to or spend time with.
- Finally, others may be detached, experiencing low arousal or unpleasant feelings of helplessness and depression.
Some types of feeling bored may be temporary, and they may even feel restful, but the last type can be particularly concerning, especially for individuals who are already prone to anxiety and depression.
Am I Experiencing Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
Depression can cause a wide range of cognitive, behavioral, and physical symptoms, including physical pain. It is important to note that individuals may experience different or varying symptoms compared to others who are diagnosed with depression, and boredom can contribute.
Also, all of the symptoms need not be present to warrant a diagnosis of clinical depression. Here are some common signs and symptoms:
- Low or depressed mood and/or noticeable mood swings
- Loss of interest or pleasure in doing things that were once fulfilling
- Significant change or fluctuation in weight (excessive weight loss or gain)
- Decreased ability to focus or concentrate, especially for longer periods
- Increased feelings of fatigue, more days than not
- Decreased energy levels
- Sleeping difficulties (not enough, too much, or interrupted sleep pattern)
- Feelings of worthlessness and other negative emotions
- Recurring thoughts of death or others dying
- Depressive symptoms that appear to be causing significant stress
- Depressive symptoms that last longer than two weeks
While taking into consideration the signs and symptoms above, only licensed medical providers and mental health providers such as Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Professional Counselors, or Clinical Social Workers can diagnose clinical depression. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, take care of yourself by reaching out to a medical professional.
Refuting Existential Boredom
Saying that life is meaningless is a serious statement; if not addressed early on, this belief could lead to suicidal thoughts. It can also result in self-harming or suicidal behaviors, but it doesn’t have to. With the help of a good therapist, it’s possible to change your outlook.
If you decide to pursue therapy, you’ll be paired with a qualified mental health provider like a Psychologist, a Professional Counselor, or a Clinical Social Worker, all of whom are generally called “therapists” in the world of psychology. A therapist can provide medical advice diagnosis and treatment for your mental health concerns. A therapist may help you see that everything does have a point, and therefore, life can be interesting. Even if you don’t find something meaningful, someone somewhere does.
With your therapist, you’ll begin to understand how each object, activity, or person holds meaning or value to others, and then you can slowly find value in these concepts. This shift in perspective helps to counter depressive symptoms and deter suicidal thoughts.
In addition to therapy, you can reduce feelings of boredom and depression by interacting with others. It’s particularly important to have a positive social support system in your life because seclusion can make depression worse. You can receive social support from family, friends, colleagues, a community group, or communities.
The benefits of good social support are that it helps to eliminate feeling bored, improves overall physical health, and creates feelings of stability and security. People with strong social support can also recover from stressful situations more quickly, enjoy improved feelings of self-esteem and self-confidence, maintain a healthier level of mental health and wellness, and find more fulfillment in daily life overall. Connecting with others helps us develop different perspectives as well, which helps us all see the different ways that life can be meaningful and valuable.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I get out of boredom?
For individuals who often feel bored, getting out of feeling bored can be a real challenge, especially if it’s related to mental illness. If it’s just pure boredom with no mental illness issues or depressing feelings, you might get out of it by finding something positive to do with your time. If you feel bored, you might engage in physical activity, start a new hobby, spend time with friends, volunteer in your community, or put more energy into a work project. However, if your boredom is coming from struggles with mental illness or other reasons, you might need to find a therapist so you can deal with the mental illness before you can deal with the boredom.
Does boredom affect everyone the same way?
No. Different people have different reactions to feeling bored and some individuals may experience more boredom proneness depending on their personality or current state of mental health. Some feel lonelier when they’re bored or experience depressing feelings. Some struggle with alcohol or drug abuse when they can’t think of anything better to do with their time. Sometimes they act out just to get a little excitement and attention. But others use boredom as a springboard to new activities and interests. From boredom, they find ways to develop mental, physical, and spiritual strengths. Instead of getting sucked under by boredom, they improve their mental health.
What’s the opposite of boredom?
Many people assume that the opposite of boredom is excitement. But the truth is that what is exciting for one person may be boring to someone else. And some people can be happy with things that others find boring. Why? It’s because the real opposite of boredom is engagement, and when you’re genuinely engaged with positive activities and interests, your boredom is reduced.
Can loneliness make you crazy?
Loneliness increases your vulnerability to mental problems. You may spend too much time thinking negative thoughts when you’re alone. In your desperation for companionship, you face the possibility of falling into mental illness. That often happens because you give in to boredom. Rather than occupying your mind with positive activities and thoughts, you spend your time waiting for someone to relieve your boredom and make you feel wanted. But when you develop a stronger social support system, you have more to do with your time. You know there is someone available to have conversations with and share in pleasant activities. So, when you are alone, you feel less desperate for excitement and attention and enjoy even the time you spend by yourself.
Is chronic boredom a thing?
Nearly everyone experiences feeling bored now and then. However, for some people, feeling bored becomes a chronic thing. If you haven’t developed practical ways to increase your involvement with the positive things in life, boredom may become the defining characteristic of your life. Often, people who have chronic boredom may have depression or other mental health issues. Boredom and depression can be related. Many types of therapy are available to help you make better decisions and develop your interests so that you can break free from chronic boredom and embrace life more fully. When you’re dealing with chronic boredom, mental illness may be right around the corner. Support groups can help, or you can find a therapist to help you avoid or deal with mental health issues.
Is boredom a mood?
A mood is a temporary emotional state. In this sense, a boring feeling can certainly be a mood. But it’s important to remember that it is also a lack of action. When you actively engage in life, you are much less troubled by bored moods.
What is the true sign of intelligence?
Albert Einstein once said, “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” People with intelligence think beyond the easy answers and explanations to see the deeper meanings and values in life. When you can harness your intelligence to discover new ideas, places, relationships, and interests, you can not only think more imaginatively, but you can improve your mental health at the same time.
What are the signs of high intelligence?
One of the most frequently asked questions is about the signs of intelligence, and the answers can be quite surprising. Here are some of the evidence-based signs that you might be more intelligent than you realize:
- You like to see things in their simplest forms and don’t like unnecessary complexity.
- You’re intensely curious.
- You don’t want to waste time on tasks you find meaningless.
- You never stop wanting to learn.
- You enjoy solitude at times to meditate and use your imagination.
- You have a great sense of humor and enjoy laughing.
At what age does IQ peak?
The surprising answer is that there is no one specific age or even age range when IQ peaks according to psychological science. One medically reviewed study showed evidence, based on IQ tests given to people of various ages, that different types of cognitive functioning are higher at different ages. Processing and remembering information peaks around the time you finish high school. Young adults are at their peak for visual, spatial, and abstract reasoning. Even middle-aged adults get to enjoy a peak of intelligence, as their vocabulary, comprehension, and general information knowledge don’t peak until their forties or beyond.
Why do humans get bored so easily?
As humans, we get bored quickly because of a specific combination of factors. First, we have a great desire for activity. Second, we don’t know exactly what we want to do. Third, we are aware that we aren’t engaging in the activity. And finally, we look outside ourselves to solve the problem. When this perfect storm happens, we can get mired in boredom and even develop a mental illness or turn to substance abuse to feel better.
What is a boring person?
A boring person is someone who doesn’t take an interest in the world around them. This often happens because they don’t try or don’t know how to develop interests or pursue goals. A person can also seem boring if they don’t seem interested in other people. After all, if someone is interested enough to ask you about yourself, you won’t be thinking of whether they’re boring or not.
Does boredom lead to substance misuse?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about boredom. Because boredom comes partly from intense desires for activity without the ability to engage, bored people often deal with these overwhelming thoughts or feelings of lack through substance use. Using drugs may seem to be a cure for their boredom. However, drug addiction can damage their ability to engage in meaningful activities even more. If you are dealing with drug use, substance use treatment can give you back your life and your ability to participate in the mental and physical activities that make life more enjoyable. For people who have overcome their patterns of this, treatment is often the first step in building a fulfilling life.
How can I overcome substance use if I’m always bored?
When you’re trying to get over substance use, boredom can increase your susceptibility to the temptation to use drugs. So, it can be harder to avoid using if you’re always bored. The natural assumption is that if you find enough things to do with your time, you won’t be interested in using drugs. However, that’s only a part of the solution. You also need to deal with any emotional pain, depression, traumatic stress, anxiety, or other mental problems before you can make progress in curing your boredom. So, find a therapist online, look for mental health services in your community, or check out local support groups. When you are mentally healthier, boredom won’t be nearly as likely to lead to continued substance abuse.
What treatments are available for substance use?
There are many types of substance use treatments available in the realm of psychology, and your health insurance may cover them. First, it’s important to seek advice from a medical professional that can provide medical advice diagnosis, or treatment. You can get into an in-patient substance use treatment program. Staying at a substance use treatment center can help you avoid situations where you might be tempted into substance use. It can also be beneficial if you’re suffering withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction. You will also receive therapy to deal with both substance use issues and any underlying mental illness.
Along with talk therapy treatment, medication may be a part of the program. But you don’t have to go into a residential substance use treatment center to get help. You can find a therapist who specializes in substance use issues to help you wherever you are. This type of treatment is not only convenient, but it helps you get stronger because you learn to deal with temptation while you’re out in the world. You can choose individual drug use counseling or group counseling for people with substance use issues. When your life is dominated by any form of addiction, treatment can be the best way to move beyond it to a better life.
Can boredom cause alcohol misuse?
Yes, sometimes, boredom can lead to alcohol misuse. This can happen in several different ways. You might drink too much because you don’t know how else to spend your time or never want to have a dull moment. If you don’t have a strong support system, you might drink excessively to banish the loneliness that comes with boredom. If you haven’t explored your community much, you might not know anywhere else to meet people besides in a bar. Or, you might use alcohol to numb your feelings, such as the intense desire for activity. To overcome this, treatment is your best option. Because it helps you deal with your habits of use, treatment needs to address your boredom as well. After all, you won’t have old habits to fall back on when you get bored. So, your therapist will likely spend time helping you discover new interests and develop new behaviors so you can say goodbye to the alcohol. When your alcohol use rises to an unhealthy level, treatment is usually the best way to accomplish this.
Do people who are bored die by suicide?
Yes, sometimes, people who suffer from existential boredom can die by suicide. Because they can find no meaning in life, they become apathetic and detached. Their intense desire to have meaning and pursue activities is overwhelmed by their sense that nothing they do can make any difference. This is one reason suicide prevention is such an important issue and why there is a designated prevention week for it. Suicide prevention is an essential goal of therapists, who aim to offer support, assistance, and psychological tools for people who suffer from depression symptoms. And, by focusing on suicide prevention, therapists can help their clients overcome their depression and build a better life.
If you’re experiencing any thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255. This number is available to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Are eating disorders caused by boredom?
Boredom can sometimes play a small part in the development of unhealthy eating patterns. Yet, these disorders usually have a much more complex set of causes. Still, it’s true that for people with depression, eating can be a way of numbing sadness or distress. Or, when you’re dealing with depression, eating may seem pointless. In both cases, getting treatment may not only relieve boredom but help you develop healthier eating habits.
Do people with bipolar disorder get bored?
People with bipolar disorder often have boredom, both when they’re in a depressed phase and when they’re manic. During the depression, boredom can give way to negative thoughts and feelings, so suicide prevention is essential. During mania, boredom often results in alcohol or drug abuse, gambling, or risky sex. If you have bipolar and feel bored, you must find a therapist to help you deal with the boredom before it leads to other life problems.
Does traumatic stress ever cause boredom?
The stress that happens in traumatic situations can be so overwhelming that you feel emotionally paralyzed. This inability to act might lead to feelings of boredom until you deal with the traumatic situation.
Do people with personality disorders have a problem with boredom?
Like other mental disorders, personality disorders can increase feelings of boredom. Because of these disorders, personality affects the way you approach your activities and your relationships with other people. However, there are many treatments for these disorders, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Can chronic pain increase your boredom?
Because chronic pain might prevent you from engaging in your favorite activities, you might feel bored much of the time. In addition to physical pain, depression might happen, increasing your feelings of boredom and meaninglessness.
Which age group suffers from boredom the most?
It’s natural to assume that young adults are the ones to suffer from boredom more than anyone. After all, they tend to have few responsibilities to keep them occupied. However, boredom doesn’t only happen to young adults. Young children can be bored when they don’t have the experience to know how to spend their time. Middle-aged adults can get bored with the sameness of work. Even older adults sometimes get bored, especially after retirement has taken away many of the activities they once enjoyed. So, not only young adults but people of every age can get bored.
How does improving mental health help with boredom and depression?
Whether you have a severe mental illness or simply need some help coping with life, improving your mental well-being can decrease your boredom. Through therapy, you can learn how to:
- Find more meaning in your life.
- Discover new interests.
- Develop a stronger support system.
- Build healthy relationships.
- Become more independent.
- Be comfortable with occasional solitude.
- Set and pursue goals.
- Get substance use treatment.
All these benefits of counseling can change the way you think about boredom and depression, helping you get back into the swing of things.
As a parent, should I be concerned if my child is always bored?
One of the most frequently asked questions for parents is whether childhood boredom is a bad sign. And the answer is that boredom is a normal part of child development. When children are engaged continuously, especially with technology, they don’t have time to think about the world and its place in it. And, it’s hard for them ever to relax when they’re always intensely focused on something specific and there’s never a dull moment. You don’t need to worry that addiction, ADHD, or other mental problems are going to happen just because your child is bored. Instead, let them be bored from time to time without stressing about it. By allowing your child to be bored sometimes, you allow them to explore their thoughts and get more comfortable with the world around them. So, child development can be enhanced with a little occasional boredom. When it comes to your child’s mental and emotional health, awareness of their reaction to boredom can help you decide whether to pursue therapy for them.
When does therapy help with boredom?
Your therapist can help you relieve your feelings in many ways. They can discover mental illness issues by performing psychological tests. Therapy can then help you deal with symptoms of the mental illness, which might be causing this. Evidence-based therapy techniques can help you assess your thoughts and behaviors and make better choices that decrease your feelings.
How can I find a therapist?
You can look for a therapist locally or online. If you want to use your health insurance for therapy, you’ll need to make sure your plan covers it. Get recommendations from people you know or read reviews to find out more about individual therapists. There are many types of therapy, and some therapists focus on one or a few types. If you have a specific problem related, such as drug addiction, make sure you look for a counselor who specializes in that type of treatment. Medication, if you need it, is prescribed by a psychiatrist, who can work with your therapist to help you achieve your mental wellness goals.
Can having a support system help?
Yes, having a robust support system can help you cope with, avoid, and move beyond struggles. Your friends and family can not only help you find things to occupy your mind, but they can also provide comfort and understanding when you’re feeling mentally unwell.
What can the community do to help bored people?
Communities have many opportunities to help bored people. They can:
- Promote healthy activities.
- Increase health awareness.
- Host a prevention week for issues like suicide.
- Publish a Frequently Asked Questions list of things to do in the area.
- Facilitate support groups for people with emotional and mental problems.
- Support community mental health services.
For related medically reviewed articles, please see:
- How To Overcome Boredom And Add Spice To Your Life– https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/how-to-overcome-boredom-and-add-spice-to-your-life/
- Depression Help: How To Know When Enough Is Enough – https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/depression-help-how-to-know-when-enough-is-enough/
- How To Deal with Depression: Tips, Techniques, And Finding the Right Treatment– https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/how-to-deal-with-depression-tips-techniques-treatment/
- When Counseling For Depression Is Necessary– https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/when-counseling-for-depression-is-necessary/
- Why So Early? Why Am I Getting Morning Depression?– https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/why-so-early-why-am-i-getting-morning-depression/
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If you need a crisis hotline, please call:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233