Motivation and Mental Health

Strategies for depression, anxiety, stress or anger

Finding the motivation to start managing your depression, anxiety, anger or stress can be an uphill battle.

If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, anger, stress, or any other mental health issues, motivation is something you’ll find is in short supply and who can blame you? When you’re depressed, all you feel like doing is staying in bed all day. If your anxiety is in full swing, you probably find yourself so mentally exhausted from all the thinking that you’re left with nothing in the tank to do anything else. Anger, stress, bipolar disorder, whatever it is can really sap all your energy and strength. If you can muster the strength to go talk to a therapist, you’ll probably find that any


homework they give you turns into a chore of monumental proportions. You then end up feeling like a failure and engaging in negative self-talk and the cycle downward continues.

There is hope, however. If you actually want to feel better, and this is a legitimate question you have to ask yourself, you have to find the motivation to make it happen. If you’ve read my article on life philosophy and/or Spirituality, you already know the importance of defining meaning in your life. Once you’ve defined what this is, you can use it to cultivate a source of inspiration that can serve as your motivation.

To read my article on Philosophy and/or Spirituality, in regards to
depression, anxiety, anger or stress, click Here

Mental health issues can cause a lack of motivation. A research study of motivation in depressed patients showed only 33% of a non-depressed sample reported lack of motivation, while 86% of a severely depressed sample stated they had significant lack of motivation. Normally, we never give much thought to motivation. However, in regards to depression or other mental health issues, this lack of motivation can envelop a person and trap them in a state of despair.

When lack of motivation is combined with mental health issues, a person may resign themselves to accept their state rather than allowing positive interventions to create a better, more healthy frame of mind. This is why I previously asked the question of whether you actually want to get better. In order for someone to take control of their life and create positive change, you must have a desire to leave your depression, anxiety, anger or stress behind. However, if you’re the one who is incapacitated by a lack of motivation, it is very challenging to see this for yourself.

For those around you, and perhaps your therapist as well, this can be a source of frustration. You might be aware of some self-help guides that recommend asking those close to you what issues they see. In some cases, it can be easy for others to find errors in logic, irrational thoughts, self-defeating patterns and the like, but trying to coax someone battling depression, anxiety, anger or stress into seeing and accepting these observations can result in the person putting up a defensive wall and rejecting these views. Simply stated, the person honestly doesn’t want to change or take action. This is why, in order for progress to develop, a desire must be cultivated in order to enact positive change. In a worst case scenario this can all culminate in something clinicians call, “Paralysis of the Will”. When a person’s will is paralyzed, they find it nearly impossible to participate in life, or even the most mundane of tasks such as not eating, displaying poor hygiene, or interacting with a spouse, children or other family members. Even though they are aware of what they “should” be doing, the desire to do so is simply overshadowed by the lack of motivation.

So, what are we to do when confronted with this challenge? One must change their focal point away from depression, anxiety, anger or stress, which up to this point has been their sole focus, and replace it with something else. This something else might be your newfound source of inspiration gained from your creation of meaning and a life philosophy. It could be your desire to be a better Mother or Father to your children. Perhaps you realize how bad off your pet would be if you continue to following your current path. Maybe it’s a sense of obligation to create art and have a testament to your life well after you’re gone. Whatever the source, it’s imperative to create the will, or drive, to truly “want” to change. When a person is battling mental health issues, their sole source of motivation is their depression, anxiety, anger or stress. These mental health issues become their life, their meaning and main focus. To break this cycle requires one change their focus to a life philosophy, meaning or direction.

One example of this would be someone whose spouse has fallen ill and needed their help. This person then had meaning and a purpose which was then used as a source of strength to find the motivation to assist them. Aaron Beck, best known for pioneering the use of cognitive behavior theory, illustrated that clients who suffered from depression, could regain their motivation when they are confronted with an external pressing need or “an external stimuli needing to be filled”. This causes the person to attach their focus to something bigger than their own immediate needs or issues and allows them to see a wider perspective than just their own.

Depression, anxiety, anger, stress, or any other mental health issues can come into our lives unexpectedly and eventually become such a debilitating force that our whole focus is centered on them. However, you can regain control and alter your life by finding meaning, a purpose, your life philosophy, or through spirituality and use this to take control away from your symptoms and regain your life. Remember, this is an incredibly challenging concept and something that can take quite a long time to achieve. By taking things just one step at a time, and not trying to solve this in one day, you can build on each successive step and end up on one incredible journey.

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  1. Felix

    I basically knew about nearly all of this, but however, I still thought it had been beneficial. Very good job!

  2. Jan Timmons

    I suspect motivation and discipline must connect for those flat-out grey days. Prefrontal cortex change seems popular these days. I try to replace my negative flashbacks with happier, funny and more recent experiences, or even try to anticipate good things—a tough habit to develop! —Jan

    1. David Dich

      What you’re describing sounds alot like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Learning how to change the way you interpret the events, people and environment around you can be very frustrating and time consuming. It is indeed a tough habit to develop. Glad to hear that you seem to be having some success.

  3. Elizabeth Ann Meyers

    Very good responceses thanks for the info and help bye!!!!

    1. David Dich

      Thank you Elizabeth for the kind words and I hope to hear from you again soon!

  4. Julie

    So good to find a site that makes sense to me about depression and motivation, I relate so much to everything that is mentioned …. I want to do so many things in life, even just sorting out my cupboards but my head feels like I have treacle running through it and just cannot do any of those things. Thank you for your website x

  5. Avinash

    Good Article, Thanks a lot

    God Bless you ..

  6. Syd A. A.

    If it’s OK for me to use this site in a school sociology project, could you give me an MLA citation or provide the information to do so?

    1. David Dich

      Syd, Sure it’s ok as long as you cite me as a source.

      Good luck on your project!

  7. Heather Mazur

    Thank you for your article on Motivation & Mental Health. I was wondering if you have any books for sale?

    I am suffering with bipolar and am going through the stage of Paralysis of the Will. You are the first person to put light on this topic. I feel so happy. Thank you so much.

    1. David Dich

      Hi Heather,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s wonderful to hear that you found some comfort in the article.

      As for a book, I have not written one as of yet. However, I am thinking about doing so in the near future.

  8. Terry

    This was the first page I came onto while searching for some way out of this mess. Thank you for the information. Now if I can figure out if I have a purpose on this plant, then we will be all set.

  9. Tracey

    Thanks so much for writing a simple article that says more than just “try to do one thing at a time” or “you may need professional help”. of course I need professional help, and I have it, but there are times that I just need a good idea of what to do right now to stop feeling so lazy. Thanks for the help!

  10. james

    ive recently started to have no motivation. lying in bed all day. as 18 year old i know its not good! reading your article sums up bits of how i feel. thanks for the help

    1. David Dich

      Thanks James for the kind words. I’m glad you found some measure of support from the article. I really wish you luck in your journey!

  11. Anne

    I have suffered from depression since I was a child and have been in therapy for decades. Lithium is the most effective medication for my depression supplemented occasionally with Seroquel. Only someone who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder and related mental illnesses can truly articulate and understand that when a bout of depression becomes so severe that it is paralyzing, it is also blinding. Sometimes an “external pressing need” can jar a depression but there is no cure for depression. Because there are no visible manifestations of depression society is largely unaware of the intense pain it causes those who suffer from it. Depression robs years from the quality of life, often leaving its victims to live in exigent poverty. Upon the encouragement and support of my doctor several years ago, I qualified for SSI. The financial relief alleviated a great deal of the stress I had previously suffered. When I recieved a six thousand dollar insurance settlement for ice damage to my roof and deposited the check in my account Uncle Sam, within months, discontinued my SSI benefits. I made countless phone calls to the Social Security office and left messages and not one was ever returned. I became utterly paralyzed with fear about my financial future so held on to the insurance money not knowing where my next dollar would come from. A viscous cycle emerged here because I still can’t afford to take care of my roof. It is very difficult to get on your feet when things seem adverse and hopeless. I believe that many people who suffer from chronic depression feel that it is delusional to believe we can trick ourselves into believing that we can pull ourselves out of it. It is always a case of one step at a time. There is no such thing as a quantum leap with depression. Just to stay alive is an accomplishment.

    1. David Dich


      Well spoken and thank you for sharing your story.

      It’s great to hear from people who are actually battling their symptoms so they may pass on some of what they have learned and/or insights they’ve come across.

      I wish you luck on your journey – one step at a time!

      1. Anne

        Someone once said that family relations is the cause of most mental illnesses. What often makes depression more pronounced is that family has little investment in educating themselves about the nature of depression and how it effects those afflicted by it. I have pleaded with my family to educate themselves about depression. If it were a member higher up in the family hierarchy I am certain that those higher than myself like father and older sister would become well versed on this sujbect. Because it is me, a lower ranking and younger member of the family, my side of the bread has no butter. Even a sister with a Ph.D. and a position in high academic places refuses to inform herself about what it is like for another member of her family to suffer from depression. It is easier for her to condemn and ostracize me for something I have no control over. This can be very discouraging and disheartening. When one lives her life never having known what it feels like to be loved and adored, it is impossible to gauge the real depths of depression. I am so used to absolute solitude and aloneness that I am like a feral cat.

        1. Sheryl McDaniel

          Anne, Yours is one of the few statements I have ever read about depression that sums up the true scope of the disorder. Most people think depression is caused by negative thinking or lack of inspiration when in reality these are symptoms of depression. Formulating positive ideation is possible and in this cognitive therapy is helpful but it’s the follow through that is often impossible. Paralysis is a major result of depression. You can learn to mitigate your terror and worry but that doesn’t eradicate your depression and the anxiety remains. Just because you struggle to replace your depression with other positive actions doesn’t mean they will be successful. Depression ate away at my strong spiritual beliefs until nothing was left. My efforts to ameliorate my anxiety with meditation caused psychosis which plagued me for years. (My psychiatrist told me this was a rare but deadly brain response.) Acupuncture helped some but medication was what gave me the most relief. If I stop taking it, the delusions and voices and hallucinations and paranoia come back.
          As you so eloquently state, one of the major problems in treating depression is the tendency of families, friends, and professionals to blame the sufferer. Depression looks like pathetic self-indulgence, laziness, and stubborn resistance to change typically associated with losers, slackers, and degenerates. This is a cause of great pain to sufferers and a factor in self isolation. For me isolation is preferable to the terrible stress and anxiety of being with people. I am so sensitive–I feel like every bone in my emotional self is broken–that I can’t take the psychic pummeling social interaction brings. I feel this way no matter what I say to myself. The things that help me cope the most (assuming I can get out of bed that day) are sitting in my garden, listening to music, playing ball with the neighbor’s dog, and reading. On bad days (or weeks) I don’t have the energy or inclination to open my eyes, go outside, water my plants, shower, talk, or fix meals. My goal for the week is to go grocery shopping and visit my elderly, ailing father. I can’t always do it.

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