Sadness and lack of motivation in depression

Any psychological disorder can be analyzed by looking at the parts and symptoms that make it up, and depression is no exception. If so, two of the phenomena that characterize it the most are lack of motivation and sadness, which is reflected in virtually every area of ​​the life of those who develop depression.

The aim of this article is help you recognize how depression expresses itself through demotivation and sadness, And how to intervene in therapy to reduce their strength.

    Characteristics of depression

    Depression is one of the mental disorders that most affects the population of Western countries, And it is estimated that in these countries the percentage of people who will develop it at some point in their life is between 8 and 15%.

    However, unfortunately, many of these cases do not need to be diagnosed, and there are even those who do not turn to mental health professionals because they cannot tell the difference between the simple. emotional distress and depression.

    The truth is that difficulties in correctly identifying emotions and feelings create problems in the face of any mood disorder and in cases of depression, this psychological state is often “labeled” as simple sadness and lack of motivation. While it is true that in a nutshell, these two terms can encompass a large part of the effects of this disorder, it should be understood that depression is more than that.

    Demotivation and sadness as facets of depression

    Let’s start by looking at how we can distinguish between simple demotivation and sadness and their “versions” in depression.


    Sadness that is not associated with a psychological disorder is a mood that is generally difficult to objectify, but which is generally expressed an examination of ideas about why the present is unfavorable to someone and says negative things about oneself, As well as in a melancholy fixation on past moments considered better than the here and now.

    It is a psychological state in which guilt and repentance are very common and in which emotionally painful comparisons usually predominate: comparisons between oneself and others, between past and present, between past and future (assumed), etc.

    On another side, most people are able to identify the reason (s) they are sad: A bad test result, a breakup, the death of a loved one, the desire for a happy childhood that contrasts sharply with the present, etc.

    In addition, sadness often goes hand in hand with tears and a strong feeling of fatigue, which is “out of action”, which leads to giving up on improving the situation, which distinguishes it from other forms of negative emotionality. like anxiety. In any case, in the vast majority of cases, the sadness fades within a few days or weeks.

    The sadness associated with depressive disorder has some differences that are worth knowing. First, the duration and consistency over time is greater. It is true that a person with depression usually does not spend several months experiencing the exact same emotional state, but in general this it remains significantly low during this time. On the other hand, although we don’t always cry frequently, negative thoughts about the present and the future are common and a feeling of hopelessness arises, which nothing will change for the better.


    De-motivation is often understood as a lack of predisposition to participate in activities and the inability to get excited about projects that should be important to the person. This psychological state results in procrastination (the tendency to leave for subsequent responsibilities that need to be addressed as soon as possible), frustration with not knowing what to do and a passive attitude, so it is others who need to take the lead. initiative.

    In depression, demotivation is more than a simple lack of interest. In many cases, this is a real inability to experience pleasure and even anticipatory pleasure, and it is also very common to experience intense psychological fatigue. In this state, the person can only aspire to perform the most important activities, and sometimes not even these: it is common to fall into hygiene problems, weaken social relations with friends and often also with family, etc.

    In turn, this lifestyle increases feelings of sadness and hopelessnessSo the problem grows … unless you decide to fight depression by getting to the root of the disorder.

      What do we do in therapy when faced with this bad mood?

      Psychological professionals are trained to train patients with depression habits and thought patterns that weaken this mood disorder. The goal is to help generate situations capable of breaking this vicious circle of demotivation and negative thoughts, to gain autonomy and to be able to experience happiness again. Plus, all without the side effects of drug treatments.

      As an adult psychologist, I know that while the feelings and emotions that make a person with depression suffer are unique and untransferable, that does not prevent that mood from being overcome by scientifically proven and effective methods. This process involves looking beyond the labels we commonly use to “summarize” emotions.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Belloch, A .; Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of psychopathology. Volumes I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
      • by Zwart PL, Jeronimus BF, de Jonge P, et al. (October 2019). Empirical evidence for definitions of episode, remission, recovery, relapse, and recurrence in depression: a systematic review. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences. 28 (5): 544-562.
      • National Collaborating Center for Mental Health. Depression. (2009). The treatment and management of depression in adults (updated edition). National Clinical Practice Guideline No. 90. London: British Psychological Society and Royal College of Psychiatrists.
      • World Health Organization. CIE 10. (1992). Tenth revision of the international classification of diseases. Mental and behavioral disorders: clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Madrid: Meditor.

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