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Languishing vs Depression

Mental health is not the absence of mental illness. Mental health exists on a continuum from flourishing to depression. The peak of mental health is flourishing. The valley of mental health is depression. Somewhere slightly below the middle is languishing.

Flourishing is more than happiness or well-being. Flourishing is positive mental health, when one feels positive toward life and functions well. Positivity about life is a key. To flourish signifies that you believe your life has meaning, purpose, and significance; and that and you have mastery over your life. Mastery means you take responsibility for your life. According to a 2016 study fewer than 25% of adults aged 25-75 fit the criteria for flourishing in life.

What is languishing?

In 2002 sociologist Corey Keyes coined the term ” languishing” to describe people who aren’t depressed but are not flourishing. Languishing refers to not feeling good about life, not functioning well, but not depressed. It is more widespread than major depressive disorder. It is a silent and debilitating epidemic in the United States.

He explained that languishing is the absence of mental health.  Languishing is “a state in which an individual is devoid of positive emotion toward life, and is not functioning well either psychologically or socially, and has not been depressed during the past year. In short, languishers are neither mentally ill nor mentally healthy.”

What are the symptoms of languishing?

Symptoms include:

  • lack of purpose
  • loss of meaning
  • loss of interest
  • lack of fulfillment
  • feeling detached and empty
  • lack of motivation
  • joylessness
  • aimlessness
  • stagnation
  • just getting through the day
  • Feeling “Blah!”

What causes languishing?

The Covid -19 pandemic caused and continues to generate unrelenting fear, dread and grief which can lead us to languish. Those who have been impacted by COVID in at least one aspect of their lives are most likely to be languishing.

Who is languishing?

A recent Ipsos poll found that about two in five Americans are flourishing while one in five Americans are languishing. Millennials are the group most likely affected by languishing. Baby boomers are more likely to be flourishing!

How does languishing affect your mental health?

It dulls your senses, evaporates your motivation, and makes concentration difficult. Languishing is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.

How does languishing affect your overall health?

Studies report that the absence of positive mental health increases the risk of all-cause mortality for men and women of all ages. Lower levels of emotional well-being are associated with increased tobacco use, physical inactivity and cardiovascular disease.

Why flourish?

  • Gaining or maintaining high levels of positive mental health protects us from mental illness.
  • Low levels of positive mental health are a risk factor for mental illness, specifically major depression later in life.
  • Individuals who gain or maintain high levels of positive health are much more likely to recover from mood disorders.

How can we stop languishing and gain positive levels of mental health?

Interventions to improve positive mental health include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Mindfulness & Mindfulness meditation
  • Exercise
  • Restful sleep
  • Self-help activities include journaling, socialization, learning new skills and creativity can all improve positive mental health.

Our psychologists can help you find relief from overwhelming feelings of languishing and depression in a private, safe space.

Your consultation

Before beginning treatment one of our clinical psychologists will conduct a complimentary initial consultation with you. The goal of the initial consultation is to get a better understanding of you, your history with what brings you to therapy, and what your needs are in therapy. We feel the fit between client and psychologist is extremely important, and the consultation is a great start for you to get a feel for Healthymynds and if we are a fit for your needs. Our goal is to work with you in a safe and supportive environment where you can explore your thoughts and feelings and work toward flourishing.

When you are languishing contact Healthymynds in Redondo Beach to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about languishing and its treatment options.


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