How procrastination affects mental health

Procrastination is the act of putting off decisions and actions. It is sometimes associated with many dangers and adverse effects. Everyone has experienced procrastinating something in life, whether it’s letting the dishes pile up in the sink or waiting until the last moment to prepare for an exam. But is procrastinating a mental disorder? In this post, we are to provide you with comprehensive information considering procrastination. Read on to learn more.


 The state of unnecessary postponing decisions and actions is called procrastination. For instance, someone may delay working on a task until right before its deadline for no reason. Procrastination has many negative effects, including physical problems, reduced well-being, financial issues, and decreased academic performance. Procrastination can lead to mental issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes procrastination is a symptom, and other mental health issues should be addressed.

Why do we procrastinate?

Although procrastination causes stress in the long term, some people delay actions because they feel better about performing their tasks in the short term. According to recent research, our stress level boosts due to procrastination. The main reasons for procrastination go as follows:

Feeling bored

If you find an activity boring or unpleasant, you are more likely to postpone it. A common feeling that can lead to procrastination is feeling like you don’t like the current task or situation. By studying the underlying symptoms that are causing you to procrastinate, you can begin taking steps toward improving your focus and productivity levels.

Low self-confidence

Lack of belief in your abilities is another reason for procrastination. If you do not have faith in your abilities, you are less likely to do it on time. Low self-confidence can be one of the biggest culprits; if you’re unsure about your own abilities or ability to complete a given task well, it can be difficult to muster up the energy or enthusiasm to make an effort. This is, of course, compounded by our anxieties and fears around failure and making mistakes.

Fear and anxiety

Oftentimes fear and anxiety can be major contributing factors when it comes to why we put things off. It could be fear that your work won’t measure up to expectations, fear of failure, fear of not meeting deadlines or fear of simply getting started. Anxiety can play a large role, too; feeling overwhelmed with the magnitude of what needs to be done can make it difficult to take action. You may delay some essential tasks because you are afraid of the results. The fear of being judged or embarrassed can be another reason to postpone a task.


Perfectionism can play a key role in procrastination. People may put off doing their tasks because they think they cannot perform them perfectly. Procrastination is largely caused by perfectionism, a need for everything to be completely perfect before we take action. Perfectionism tricks us into thinking that if we wait until the last minute and don’t allow ourselves enough time for anything, then there’s no way we can fail. But this strategy only leads to extreme stress and anxiety. 

Is procrastination a mental issue?

Procrastination isn’t a mental issue itself, so there is no mental diagnosis based on procrastination. Procrastination is extremely common among people, and it is something people are involved with from time to time. Studies indicate that procrastination occurs because people avoid unpleasant, boring, and difficult tasks.  If procrastination interferes with your daily activities, like taking a shower and texting, it may be a sign of a larger issue.  Here are some of the mental disorders that may happen with procrastination:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling worried
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in eating habits

If you are a procrastinator and experience the symptoms above, you are not dealing with motivation problems and should consult a doctor.

Common mental disorders that may present with procrastination

As you know, procrastination is not a problem itself, but it may be a sign of other mental problems. Below, we cover some of the most common mental issues that may come with procrastination and tell you how procrastination can manifest these disorders.

Anxiety and procrastination

Due to life’s ups and downs, anxiety is something many people feel in their lives. When anxiety becomes chronic, it may indicate serious problems. The most common disorders that fall under the umbrella of anxiety disorder go as follows:

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Feeling anxious about performing a task can contribute to procrastination. For instance, if you are anxious about showing up in public, you may need more time to do grocery shopping.

Depression and anxiety

Many of us may experience depression from time to time in our lives. Lack of motivation and loss of interest in doing what you used to enjoy are the most common signs of depression. These signs can often lead to procrastination tendencies, and it can be difficult to perform simple tasks when experiencing depression.

Bipolar disorders

This kind of mental disorder is rare but affects almost 4.4 of the population. Bipolar disorder falls into different types and is defined by mood swings known as depressive episodes or manic. People with bipolar disorder in both manic and depressive episodes may experience procrastination. Procrastinating in a manic state may happen because the person is extremely focused on the task and neglects others. 

Personality disorders

Many mental disorders include personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder, historic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. This disorder can present a variety of symptoms, many of which can lead to procrastination.

Procrastination and ADHD

Procrastination can also be a symptom of ADHD. People with ADHD have difficulty staying organized and can be easily distracted. Hyperfixation can also lead to procrastination. When you are deeply absorbed in an activity, you lose track of time and avoid doing less exciting activities. 

Procrastination and mood

Studies indicate that procrastination is an inability to regulate mood and emotions. When we stay on task, we manage challenging emotions. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can make it harder to regulate mood.

How to stop procrastination?

Employing anti-procrastination techniques is a good way to avoid the negative effects of procrastination. The most practical method to reduce procrastination is breaking large tasks into manageable pieces. You should do the following to reduce procrastination.

  • Set realistic goals
  • Identify the cases in which you delay.
  • Make tasks more enjoyable
  • Set deadlines
  • Identify your fears
  • Improve your environment
  • Use time-management techniques
  • Remove potential distractions
  • Plan how you will handle challenges
  • Prioritize your tasks

Adverse effects of procrastination

Procrastination is associated with cognitive problems; procrastinators experience more stress and anxiety than other people. Procrastination is also associated with a variety of dangers and negative effects. The most common negative effects of procrastination go as follows:

Low academic performance

Procrastination is one of the most commonly seen issues when it comes to academic performance. Delaying tasks or assignments can have serious consequences on your grades, possibly resulting in low-performance dropping and potential failure. An ongoing trend of procrastination can lead to feelings such as guilt, disappointment, or even regret regarding the lost opportunity for higher grades. Increased course failure, longer course duration, and bad scores are the effects of procrastination on students. Watching tv, sleeping, and playing video games are the leading causes of procrastination among students. 

Employment and financial issues

Procrastination is linked with unemployment and financial issues. It is also problematic from an employer’s point of view since it can reduce the staff’s productivity and performance. When individuals don’t take care of tasks in a timely manner, such as replying to emails or submitting reports on time, employers begin to question their dependability – which could potentially cost them the job.

Social issues

When it comes to social issues, procrastination can lead to relationship problems. It can also have other negative consequences like stress and loneliness. Social scientists are finding that procrastination doesn’t just lead to a delay in task completion or emotional distress; it can also negatively impact our physical and mental well-being. A wealth of research links procrastination to increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, risk aversion, and even decreased life satisfaction. Furthermore, avoiding objectives and obligations can negatively affect social relationships by straining personal connections.

Last Word

Procrastination may not be something you can completely eliminate from your life, but having enough information about it can help you reduce it as much as possible. If procrastination is affecting your life quality, you should talk to a therapist. In case you are struggling with procrastination or trying to help someone who is, we hope you find this article practical.