how to get motivated when depressed

how to get motivated when depressed

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2020, an estimated 14.8 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment in the past year. Depression is a silent battle that many of us face, often in the quiet corners of our daily lives. It’s a condition that can drain our energy, hope, and motivation, making even the simplest tasks feel insurmountable. But amidst this struggle, there lies the possibility of light and progression. This article aims to guide you on how to find motivation when depression clouds your vision.

Understanding Depression

Depression is far more than a fleeting feeling of sadness. It’s a deep, pervasive mental illness that affects your day-to-day emotional and physical well-being. Understanding depression is the first step toward healing. It’s characterized by a significant loss of interest in activities you once found enjoyable, a persistent feeling of sadness, and sometimes, a noticeable lack of motivation. Recognizing these symptoms in yourself or someone you care about is crucial because acknowledgment is the foundation upon which motivation can be rebuilt.

Recognizing the Impact of Depression on Motivation

The impact of depression on motivation can’t be overstated. When you’re depressed, the energy required to engage in even basic tasks can feel overwhelming. This is because depression significantly affects your brain’s chemistry and neural pathways, making it difficult to find the spark of motivation that drives action. Understanding this can help alleviate the guilt or frustration that often accompanies this lack of motivation, allowing you to approach the situation with compassion and understanding instead of judgment.

Strategies to Overcome Lack of Motivation

Overcoming the lack of motivation requires a multifaceted approach. Setting small, achievable goals is a cornerstone strategy. These goals act as stepping stones, guiding you back to a path of engagement and purpose. Each small victory is a building block for your motivation, gradually restoring your confidence and sense of achievement.

Supportive Environment

Creating a supportive environment plays a crucial role as well. This involves both the physical space around you and the people you choose to spend time with. An environment that reduces stress and cultivates positivity can significantly affect your mental health and motivation levels. Additionally, incorporating physical activity into your routine can have transformative effects. Exercise isn’t just about physical health; it’s a powerful tool for mental well-being. The endorphins released during physical activity can elevate your mood and, by extension, your motivation.

Mindfulness and Self-Care

Mindfulness and self-care are essential components of managing depression and boosting motivation. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, or even simple breathing exercises, can help ground you in the present moment, reducing the overwhelming tide of negative thoughts. Self-care is equally important. It’s about acknowledging your needs and allowing yourself to meet them without guilt. This might mean setting aside time for hobbies, ensuring you’re eating well and getting enough sleep at night, or simply allowing yourself moments of rest.

Seeking Professional Help

There comes a point when professional help may be necessary. Depression is a serious condition, and there’s no shame in seeking support and medical advice from therapists or counselors. These professionals can offer tailored advice and strategies, provide support through therapy or medication, and help you navigate the path to recovery. Recognizing the need for help is a sign of strength and the first step toward regaining control of your life.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Lifestyle adjustments can significantly impact your fight against depression and its effects on motivation. Making small steps to change your daily life, such as improving your diet or establishing a healthy sleep routine, can have profound effects on your mental health. Nutrition plays a vital role in mental health; a balanced diet can support brain function and mood regulation. Similarly, sleep is crucial for mental and emotional resilience. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a peaceful sleep environment can help improve your sleep quality, which can enhance your overall mood and motivation.

Building a Routine

The power of a well-structured routine cannot be underestimated. A routine provides structure and a sense of normalcy, which can be incredibly grounding when you’re dealing with depression. It reduces the number of decisions you need to make about your day, which can help conserve your mental energy for more demanding tasks. A routine can also help you build momentum as you tick off tasks from your to-do list throughout the day, providing a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

how to get motivated when depressed

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When to Seek Help

Recognizing when it’s time to seek help is a crucial step in the journey toward healing and regaining motivation. Depression is a complex condition that affects everyone differently, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are certain signs that indicate when professional intervention might be necessary to manage depression and its impact on your motivation.

Persistent Feelings of Sadness or Hopelessness

If you’re experiencing persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair that don’t seem to improve over time, it’s important to seek help. These emotions can be overwhelming and may significantly hinder your ability to function in daily life.

Significant Changes in Sleep or Eating Patterns

Changes in your sleeping or eating habits that are drastic or unexplained can be signs of depression. If you’re sleeping too much or too little, or if your eating patterns have changed significantly, leading to weight loss or gain, these could be indicators that it’s time to seek professional help.

Loss of Interest in Activities You Once Enjoyed

A key sign of depression is losing interest in activities or hobbies that once brought you joy. If you find that nothing seems to interest you anymore, and this disinterest is affecting your motivation and quality of life, professional help can provide strategies to reignite your passions.

Difficulty Concentrating or Making Decisions

Depression can affect your cognitive functions, making it hard to concentrate or make decisions. If you’re finding these tasks increasingly difficult, to the point where it’s affecting your work or personal life, it’s a sign that you may need professional support.

Increased Use of Alcohol or Drugs

Turning to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with your feelings is a sign that you need help. Substance use can temporarily mask feelings of depression but often worsens the condition in the long run.

Thoughts of Harm or Suicide

If you’re experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s critical to seek help immediately. These thoughts are signs of severe depression, and professional intervention is necessary to ensure your safety and start on the path to recovery.

Feeling Overwhelmed by Daily Tasks

When the simple act of getting through your daily routine feels insurmountable, and you’re unable to find the motivation to perform basic tasks, it’s a clear indicator that you should seek professional advice. Depression can make even small tasks feel overwhelming, and a professional can help you develop strategies to manage these feelings.

Get Help At First Light Recovery

Getting motivated when you’re depressed is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s not impossible. By understanding depression, recognizing its impact on motivation, and employing strategies to manage it, you can begin to find your way back to a motivated, engaged life. Remember, the journey is about progress, not perfection. Celebrate each step forward, however small, and be patient with yourself. You’re not alone, and with the right tools and support, you can reclaim your motivation and your life.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression and a lack of motivation, get in touch with First Light Recovery to learn more about our depression treatment options and treatment plans.


Absolutely. Small goals help break down overwhelming tasks into manageable parts, making starting and building momentum easier.

Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators, thus helping to improve mood and overall wellness, as well as prevent low motivation.

Mindfulness helps to bring your attention to the present, reducing the impact of negative thoughts and feelings that can exacerbate depression and lower motivation.

Lifestyle changes, such as improved diet and sleep habits, can significantly affect your mental health, boosting your mood and motivation by improving overall physical health.

  • Persistent, unwanted thoughts or images of self-harm.
  • Engaging in compulsions or rituals to neutralize these thoughts.
  • Avoidance of triggers that may incite thoughts of self-harm.
  • Significant anxiety or distress impacting daily functioning.

Common symptoms of depression include persistent sadness or low mood, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide. Experiencing these symptoms for more than two weeks could indicate depression, and seeking professional advice is recommended. If you think you might have depression, take our depression self-test

Dr. Randall Turner First Light Recovery

Dr. Randall Turner received his medical degree from TUNCOM in Nevada and completed his Psychiatry Residency training at Loma Linda University. He’s board-certified in Psychiatry and also in Addiction Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine.

He and his practice provide services to hospitals and institutions all over California. He has extensive experience with varied populations, including in geriatric psychiatry and addiction medicine. Every day, he strives to thoroughly understand human psychology and psychopathology with the hope of relieving suffering and fostering the growth of those he treats.