Procrastination

1 Procrastination Summary

Do you find yourself repeatedly delaying urgent and important tasks? You might have serious procrastination. Almost anyone procrastinates, and most of us do it often. Procrastination is common, but its effects are not trivial.

Procrastination often has costly consequences. Procrastination often prevents us from starting or finishing crucial tasks, accomplish goals at work, or establishing or building relationships. Another problem is that procrastination can be a symptom of underlying mental disorder.

In itself, procrastination is not a disease or mental problem. Humans have problems with procrastination since time immemorial. Men tend to have more problems with procrastination. Procrastination is not just a problem among students but to adults as well.

We tend to resort to procrastination when we have to accomplish unpleasant tasks, like doing schoolwork, repair or maintenance of a car or home, or talking serious issues to a partner. Sometimes, we procrastinate when faced with tasks that seem enormous or too complicated for our skills.

No matter how common or frequent it is, there are several simple ways to beat procrastination. A simple reality check may make you realize that the task is not as difficult as it seems. Dividing a big task into several smaller ones can also help.

You can also change by practicing delayed gratification, which is doing the hard work and then rewarding yourself afterward. Positive thinking and grit are attitudes that can help conquer procrastinating behavior.

Since it is normal behavior, how can we identify if our procrastinating behavior is normal or a symptom of a health condition? If you are able to overcome procrastination on your own, then probably there is nothing to worry.

If you have a procrastinating problem occurring persistently and causes significant issues in your life, then you must see the doctor. Procrastination that occurs with other symptoms requires further investigation. In some cases, symptoms of certain medical conditions can be misinterpreted as procrastination.

Procrastination may be a symptom of underlying mental disorder. These problems are also common, so seeking doctor’s help is always helpful. Some conditions that may feature procrastination include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder (depression), or anxiety or personality disorders.

Mental disorders are problems in the mind and body that require treatment. They do not heal on their own, and they often become worse over time. Mental disorders are prevalent, affecting at least 1 in 5 adults in the US. The problem is that many cases of mental disorders do not receive adequate medical attention.

Procrastination possibly caused by mental disorders requires attention by a psychologist or psychiatrist. A psychologist is a health professional that help people cope with usual life stresses and mental disorders, while psychiatrists are doctors that treat mental disorders. These professionals can help you overcome procrastination, whether if it is caused by mental disorders or not.

Overcoming procrastination not caused by mental disorders require awareness and effort. In the case of mental disorders, treating the cause will reduce procrastination. In many cases, mental disorders respond well to treatment and patients are able to lead normal healthy lives.

2 Causes

Procrastination is a behavior still not completely understood. Evidently, procrastination is a problem that may have something to do with self-regulatory processes in the brain. However, experts still cannot say if procrastination is pathological or not.

Some may be chronic or habitual procrastinators, while others procrastinate only when faced with certain tasks or situations. The only thing that everyone agrees is that procrastination is unhealthy and a self-sabotaging behavior that often leads to disastrous consequences.

You may not know it, but procrastination is an extensively studied topic. Experts say that procrastination is a learned behavior, meaning that we get it from our parents, siblings, or grandparents who are procrastinators themselves.

We also tend to procrastinate if we feel inadequate or become too hard on ourselves when faced with certain tasks. Procrastination is also a problem among perfectionists and those who have a low tolerance for discomfort.

In other cases, habitual procrastination may be a subtle sign of underlying mental disorder. Certain psychological conditions may manifest as repeated procrastination.

One of the most common mental disorder that may cause procrastination is a major depressive disorder, or simply called depression. Depression is a serious and crippling mental disorder.

You have depression if you are suffering from the profound low mood in most situations for at least two weeks. A depressed person withdraws from usual functioning and has low motivation. This may manifest as chronic procrastination.

Procrastination may also be a symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a mental disorder characterized by short attention span, impulsivity, and restlessness. Procrastination is a common finding in persons with ADHD. The combination of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity makes it hard to start or finish tasks.

You may procrastinate due to anxiety caused by having anxiety disorders. Panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorders cause unnatural anxiety that does not go away and gets worse over time. Anxiety disorders may prevent you from starting tasks and may be misinterpreted as procrastination.

Certain personality disorders, namely obsessive-compulsive and borderline personality disorders, may cause procrastinating behavior. A person with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder often suffers from perfectionism, excessive attention to details, or obsession with control, which can cause problems in finishing tasks.

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by unstable relationships and emotions, and engaging in dangerous behavior, and these characteristics often make the person prone to procrastination.

Procrastination that may be caused by mental disorders should be seen and treated by health professionals. Mental disorders do not go away over time, but instead get worse. If you suffer from procrastinating behavior and have other symptoms or unusual changes in behavior, you must visit a doctor.

3 Diagnosis and Treatment

You may not know it, but you can approach and seek medical help from procrastination whether it is caused by mental disorders or not. Many people have serious procrastinating problems, and they can discuss it with a psychologist. Note psychologists help people facing usual emotional issues (like procrastination) and those with mental disorders.

Procrastination is easy to see, and you can easily notice them yourself. You may have to discuss your symptoms and observed behavior to your psychologist. In cases where mental disorders are suspected, you may be referred to a psychiatrist for diagnosis.

Psychiatrists perform observation, do interviews, and use assessment tools to diagnose mental issues. Mental disorders require workup that can take months, and you may have to see at least one health professional. There are many options health providers use to treat mental disorders.

If a particular method fails, which is not uncommon, you have to return to your health provider and try another until symptoms are resolved. This is why treatment for mental disorders require time and the good patient-doctor relationship.

Procrastination caused by diagnosed mental disorders goes away once the cause is addressed. Treatment varies on the diagnosis. In the case of depression, the doctor will prescribe antidepressants to lift mood and give psychotherapy (counseling). Counseling is especially helpful in resolving procrastinating behavior and helping you hold on to jobs when struggling with depression.

ADHD is now known to affect both kids and adults, and patients often struggle with procrastination. Behavioral therapies are often used as first-line treatment for ADHD symptoms including procrastination.

Behavioral therapy is based on the premise that behavior is learned, so to correct undesirable behavior (like procrastination), you have to recognize and ‘unlearn’ it. Your doctor or therapist will give you strategies to do this. Aside from behavioral therapies, your doctor may also prescribe stimulants to prolong focus span and control symptoms of ADHD.

Anxiety disorders can be managed by psychotherapy under the guidance of psychologists. In this case, the health professional helps the patient identify factors that lead to anxiety and teach strategies in dealing with them. Your psychologist can also teach strategies to control worrying itself and resolve anxiety that leads to unhealthy behavior such as procrastination.

Personality disorders may seem hard to treat, but that is because most people are not fully familiar with it. Manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorders and borderline personality disorders are deeply ingrained, so to say it simply, are not changed overnight or in a matter of days.

Experts address personality disorders by teaching strategies to reduce the impact of unhealthy behavior. In more simple words, therapists teach patients certain methods so unhealthy behavior like repeated handwashing or procrastination can be reduced.

For example, the therapist may urge the patient to think of the origins, foresee the effects, or even challenge the unhealthy behavior. Over time, the patient learns to overcome symptoms.

Everyday procrastination can be overcome by simple strategies. You can start on a task even if you don’t feel like doing it. You can also do rewarding tasks afterward, and look forward it to help you jumpstart. You can also practice mindfulness to determine the effects and costs of delaying or not proceeding with the task, or recognize and control factors that stop you from working.

Calling out for help for may be the farthest thing on your mind, but note that procrastination can cause disastrous consequences such as divorce, inability to find or stay on jobs, or soured relationships with your spouse, children, parents, or friends. For serious procrastinating problems, you can call a psychologist for guided help and practical advice.

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