Mentally ill woman with avolition
Mentally ill woman with avolition

Am I Mentally Ill or Am I Just Lazy?

Am I lazy or mentally ill is a question a lot of people ask themselves. Many people think that mentally ill people are just lazy and it’s an awful stereotype. However, mentally ill people aren’t lazy. There is a condition called avolition that mimics laziness and can be confused as such.

Avolition is a symptom of mental illness that is characterized by a severe lack of motivation or willpower to get anything with an end goal done. This could include brushing your own teeth, getting work done, going outside, making or keeping friends, or even eating and drinking water!

Some people with very severe avolition may starve to death or die of dehydration. It’s not just laziness. Less severe avolition can lead to periodontal disease due to not brushing your teeth or flossing. It can lead to heart disease and other medical conditions due to a lack of motivation to take care of yourself. It can shortens life spans.

Avolition is no laughing matter and it isn’t laziness. It is a real symptom of several mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and schizoaffective disorder. It is most commonly seen in schizophrenia, but can occur in many other mental illnesses.

Try to think twice before calling a mentally ill person lazy and remember that mental illness lowers quality of life. People don’t enjoy avolition; they suffer from it.

What Causes Avolition?

A reason for avolition is often due to the fact that those with certain mental illnesses don’t receive pleasure in the brain from completing activities. This is called anhedonia. I suffer from this and it causes me to not enjoy things like I used to.

Other reasons could be disorganized thoughts, lowered attention span, low mood and several other symptoms.

What is it Like to Suffer From Avolition?

When I’m suffering from avolition, I don’t enjoy completing tasks like usual. Everything feels like a chore including fun things I used to love like painting, drawing, blogging and writing. Sometimes even listening to music feels awful or boring. It’s hard to distract myself from it sometimes and it’s almost painful in a way.

When my avolition is severe, I get severely depressed . It feels like I’m being tortured on a psychological level. It’s a curse and there’s no cure.

When I’m like this I enjoy nothing. Going to the movies is boring, music is annoying sound that irritates my ears, cuddling is boring, walking is boring, eating tastes bland and sometimes bad, and everything else I enjoy is bland, boring and annoying.

Some Ill Effects of This Symptom

Some ill effects of this symptom caused by mental illness might include:

  • Weight gain – Sometimes when it is severe, nothing feels good except food so eating is the only thing that brings you a small amount of joy.
  • Weightloss – When it affects you, sometimes you can’t enjoy eating anymore, so you just stop eating much food. Food just doesn’t taste good anymore or it’s a chore to force yourself to eat.
  • Not being productive – It can appear as laziness such as not getting out of bed or only doing a few things that still entertain you even through the lack of motivation. Although most times what you do isn’t productive.
  • Health problems – This could include periodontal disease, heart disease and diabetes. This can happen if your condition causes you to skip self care or healthy habits.
  • Job loss or not having a job at all. It’s hard to hold down a job or get one when you have a mental illness that causes avolition.
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide – This symptom can be a trigger for suicidal thoughts or suicide. It can be hard to deal with and causes severe impairment in daily life. As a result, suicide sometimes feels like the only way out.

Treatment Options

Some medications make avolition worse, but some don’t. You may find your avolition improves while taking an antipsychotic or antidepressant, but they aren’t very effective in treating avolition as a result of schizophrenia in comparison to other symptoms of schizophrenia.

There are currently no medications approved for treating avolition or other negative symptoms of schizophrenia, affective disorders and other mental illnesses.

Therapy may improve avolition, but I have found that it personally doesn’t help all that much. It’s hard to fix your lack of motivation if you don’t have the motivation to fix your lack of motivation. Also this symptom is very hard to treat.

I find that getting sleep will sometimes reset my brain and get rid of the avolition temporarily. Other times I just need to find the right song to help ease my avolition. Sometimes the avolition is so severe nothing helps and I have a meltdown.

A New Hope

A new medication called roluperidone is in it’s initial stages of testing and it is being tested for efficiency and safety. It is supposed to be useful in the treatment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia such as avolition.

Hopefully this will be capable of treating avolition in other mental disorders that cause this symptom. If you would like to read more about roluperidone, you can read more about it here.

Given the promise of roluperidone treating the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, I will be sure to talk to my psychiatrist about it whenever it is released to the public. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are what bother me most at the moment, so this new medication seems really cool and gives me a new hope for the future.

In Conclusion Mentally Ill People are Not Lazy; Avolition is Real

If you think you suffer from this symptom, try to reach out for help. Lack of motivation or lack of enjoyment from completing activities is often times linked to suicide, so be sure to seek treatment from a mental health professional.

You may find you have a mental illness you didn’t know you had. Also, remember that no matter what to always brush your teeth even if you don’t have motivation to. That is if you don’t want to end up like me. I have periodontal disease and 1000’s of dollars in work that needs to be done for my teeth that’s out of pocket! Dental insurance often times has poor coverage.

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