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Dysfunction Interrupted-Is Boredom Causing Your Anxiety and Depression?

I have spoken previously on the topic of overwhelm and its connection to anxiety and depression, when your brain just says “Enough!” and you begin the spiral into an emotional dark hole.

Today’s post is on the opposite but just as distressing effect, when you are understressed to the point your brain starts grasping seemingly random things to worry about all around you. You may find yourself obsessing over your health and googling vague physical symptoms  until you are convinced that you are dying of some horrible disease. You may start obsessing over cleanliness and order as if OCD has just kicked in. You may find yourself on Facebook or looking at the media constantly and becoming more and more focused and angry about world affairs and anxious about our outcome. None of that feels good and in fact depletes your good brain chemicals by keeping you in a “high alert” mode.

You may feel hopeless, purposeless and lost, resulting in questioning your life and why you are on earth. These are often the questions of depression and if not answered correctly and in a timely fashion can have you seeking medication or self medicating to feel better, neither of which will solve the problem in the long run (This does not refer to depressions stemming from medical issues such as severe mental illness or physical conditions such as endocrine problems).

Other words that may describe how you feel if you are bored or without purpose are:

  • Lethargic
  • Apathetic
  • Indecisive
  • Under-involved
  • Hopeless
  • Helpless
  • Frightened

With the New Year almost here it is a time you may start looking into what you will do, where your life will go next year and what goals to set, but maybe not having much hope for them as last year’s and the year’s before that didn’t come to fruition. You may be down on yourself for not reaching those goals and letting another year go by.

Rather than go down that same road this year and drop deeper into a dark place emotionally, I would like you instead to focus on finding things to put into your life that bring you joy and satisfaction. Your brain is screaming for it. It may seem like an oversimple solution but it is not. It works. By developing the negative emotions of anxiety and depression your brain is telling you that something isn’t working and trying to get the point across. It is in fact demanding your attention to the problem.

You might not consider a problem such as boredom or under-stimulation when wondering why you are feeling poorly and instead go to a doctor or search for a complicated reason. More often than not, depression and anxiety come about from very obvious if not uncomplicated reasons. The good news is that anxiety and depression stemming from boredom are one of the easiest and more pleasant forms to fix.

You saw the list of words above that relate to negative emotionality, here is the list of words to replace those in describing your life, these are ones to strive for:

  • Challenged
  • In Charge
  • Committed
  • Healthy
  • Decisive
  • Involved
  • Active
  • Happy
  • Satisfied

Even attaining half of these will put you on the road to feeling better immediately. So your job is to put together a plan for yourself that addresses each of these words. This is the blueprint that you will work from. Never mind the other list anymore, that isn’t getting you anywhere.

  • What would be a challenge you would like to take on?
  • What can you take control of in your life right now?
  • What can you commit to doing and complete?
  • Are there habits that you can change to get healthier?
  • What can you get involved in that makes you feel like part of something?

You get the picture. These thoughts and questions are much more stimulating and exciting than googling vague symptoms on the internet or looking at mind numbing cartoons and platitudes. I think you will be amazed at how your brain responds to this gift of focus and replenishment with allowing you to feel good again. All of these things provide you with the life experiences needed to have a fulfilling life. They meet our hierarchy of human needs identified by psychologists and researchers over many years.

I find that some clients have a harder time with this than others, especially those from dysfunctional backgrounds that have taught them dysfunctional thought patterns that interfere with their happiness through no fault of their own.  If this is you, you might struggle with how this all applies to you and how to fix it. You may not feel empowered to make changes in your life or even believe that it is possible. But it is, it is a matter of unlearning dysfunctional beliefs and patterns and adopting those that create emotional success. I work with clients every day who can’t believe how good they feel when when they are free of these life sucking patterns and on their way to a life of their own choosing.

Dysfunction Interrupted-Is Boredom Causing Your Anxiety and Depression?

Audrey Sherman, Ph.D.

Dr. Audrey Sherman is a licensed psychologist, coach and the author of the book Dysfunction Interrupted-How to Quickly Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Anger Starting Now. Her expertise is in defining, describing and transforming dysfunctional behavior and thought patterns learned in childhood or beyond that keep you anxious, depressed, angry, stuck in unhappy and unproductive relationships, jobs and more. Dr. Sherman developed the Dysfunctional Patterns Quiz and other free resources to help you determine the effects of these on your life. She works with individuals, conducts live and online workshops and trains others in her programs. To learn more about Dr. Sherman, you can visit her website.

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APA Reference
Sherman, A. (2018). Dysfunction Interrupted-Is Boredom Causing Your Anxiety and Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Dec 2018
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