Mental Health Tips
January 30, 2024

Can Boredom Cause Depression?

Written by
Two Chairs
Reviewed by
Nick Forand, PhD, ABPP
Updated on

If you've ever gone through a period of your life where you feel restless and have lacked interest in things that once excited you, you might have wondered if you were bored or depressed. While the two have some similarities and can often be connected, they're uniquely different.

In this blog post, we’ll unpack whether boredom is a sign of depression, if boredom can cause depression, and how you can get help.

Am I bored or depressed?

Boredom and depression can look a lot alike. So when you are feeling a bit down, but aren’t sure exactly why, it can help to better understand the differences between the two.

What is depression?

Depression, a mental health disorder that impacts approximately 280 million people in the world, is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities. 

Unlike the normal ups and downs that people experience in response to life's challenges, depression can affect how individuals think, feel and handle daily activities, often interfering with their ability to function.

Key signs of depression can include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, or unexplained aches and pains
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide 

What is boredom?

Boredom is a psychological state characterized by a perceived lack of interest, stimulation, or engagement with one's surroundings or activities. It often occurs when individuals find themselves in situations that do not capture their attention or fail to provide a sense of purpose or fulfillment.

Boredom is a common and universal human experience, and it can occur in various contexts, such as work, school or leisure time. While occasional boredom is a normal part of life, persistent boredom may be indicative of underlying issues.

Key aspects of boredom include:

  • Lack of interest
  • Restlessness 
  • Desire for change
  • Distorted perception of time (i.e. time moves slowly)
  • Feeling frustration, dissatisfaction, and a general sense of unease

Can boredom cause depression? Are they linked?

Boredom and depression can be linked and are often highly correlated — however, they are distinct states. While one does not necessarily cause the other directly, there are connections between the two. 

Persistent or chronic boredom, especially when coupled with other factors, may contribute to the development or exacerbation of sadness or depressive symptoms. 

To better understand this, let’s look at some ways in which boredom and depression can be interconnected:

Negative emotional impact: Prolonged periods of boredom can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, and emptiness. These negative emotions, if not addressed, may contribute to a decline in mood and, over time, develop into symptoms associated with depression.

Lack of stimulation: Boredom often results from a perceived lack of stimulation or engagement. When individuals consistently experience a lack of meaningful activities or challenges, it can lead to a sense of purposelessness, which is a common feature of depression.

Social isolation: Boredom can contribute to social withdrawal, as individuals may disengage from activities and relationships that once provided fulfillment. Social isolation is a known risk factor for depression, and the lack of social connection can contribute to the onset or exacerbation of depressive symptoms.

Impaired motivation: Chronic boredom may lead to a lack of motivation to pursue goals or engage in activities. This decreased motivation can contribute to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which are characteristic of depression.

Negative thought patterns: Boredom can give rise to negative thought patterns, such as self-criticism and rumination. These cognitive patterns are also associated with depression and can contribute to the maintenance of depressive symptoms.

It's important to note that while boredom can be a contributing factor to the development of depression, there are usually multiple factors involved in the onset of a depressive episode. 

These factors can include biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological elements. Additionally, not everyone who experiences boredom will go on to develop depression, and not everyone with depression has experienced chronic boredom.

Are there any negative effects of boredom, if not depression?

Aside from depression, boredom can lead to things like:

  • Anxiety, particularly when individuals feel stuck in unstimulating or monotonous situations
  • Decreased concentration and focus, making it challenging to complete tasks
  • Negative emotions like constant frustration, irritability and restlessness
  • Social withdrawal or conflict in relationships
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms like risk-taking behaviors or substance use
  • Physical health impacts like sleep disturbances and reduced physical activity

What to do if you suspect you have depression

If you suspect that you might be experiencing depression, consider:

Reaching out to a support system: Share your feelings with friends, family, or trusted individuals to help feel less isolated.

Consulting a mental health professional: Book an appointment with a mental health professional in order to get a thorough assessment and a diagnosis (if necessary) and create an appropriate treatment plan.

Limiting substance use: Avoid excessive alcohol or substance use, as they can exacerbate depressive symptoms. If substance use is a concern, seek support from a healthcare professional.

Educating yourself: Learning more about depression and mental health can help empower you to make informed decisions about your well-being.

If you’re feeling bored and depressed, therapy can help

Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. That's why finding the perfect fit through therapist matching is essential.

With Two Chairs, you can get matched with a therapist who’s the right fit for you, to help you: 

  • Identify underlying causes and issues
  • Understand your symptoms, experiences, and challenges 
  • Receive emotional support and validation
  • Develop coping strategies

Find the right therapist for boredom or depression with Two Chairs 

To better understand your boredom or depression — or both — get matched with the right therapist, using Two Chairs. With the right therapeutic alliance, you have a better chance of successful treatment outcomes like becoming more productive at work, having more fulfilled relationships, and learning to cope with symptoms.

Let us find the right therapist for you

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Let us find the right therapist for you

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