HOLIDAYS are coming. Expect people to lie lazily before the television or the computer, or just lounge around the living room. That is normal. But people doing these most of the year may be suffering from a mental disorder.

The habit of “laziness” has caught the attention of medical experts when the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported a condition called Motivational Deficiency Disorder (MDD), an overwhelming and debilitating fatal state of apathy.

An example of someone suffering from MDD is the “couch potato” or the individual who spends almost all his time before the television instead of doing something physically demanding. The condition may lead to health problems.

“Watching television during your free time does not indicate that you have a mental disorder,” said Chris Pacquing, a professor of the Department of Psychology of the College of Science. “(But) being a couch potato is usually associated with health problems like obesity.”

There is even a colloquial term used to describe decreased motivation of high school and college students toward studies when nearing the end of the school year. With almost 80 per cent of UST students in the college level, many of the students may suffer from “senioritis,” which is directly related to procrastination, and even slowness, truancy, and apathy in work.

Psychologically, it is characterized by anxiety, low sense of self-worth, and sloth. On the physiological side, there is an area of the brain affecting its executive functions like planning, control and attention, Having it damaged reduces responses to the stimuli.

According to the British Heart Foundation, the couch potato culture of computer-game playing, television watching, and web surfing is the cause of the increasing levels of physical inactivity in children. Seven out of 20 children worldwide are not getting sufficient exercise to reduce the risk of developing heart problems in later life.

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Pacquing said that although television can stimulate thinking and enhance mental ability and alertness, people who watch it excessively lacks interpersonal communication skills.

Neurologist Leth Argos of the University of Newcastle, Australia, claimed that the MDD patient could even go as worse as lacking motivation to breath!

But the condition named as a “disorder” is still being debated. Some doctors say MDD may simply be a case of “disease mongering,” where physicians hype an illness to justify prescription of pharmaceutical medicine.

“Common laziness, like being a couch potato, cannot yet be classified as a mental disorder. There are still no studies conducted to prove the claim,” Pacquing said.

In the case of MDD, the drug being publicized to cure the disease was Indolebant, which the BMJ reported. To attract more buyers, Argos claimed that a man who could not leave his sofa because of MDD had been able to work as an investment adviser in Sydney after taking the drug.

According to Dr. Encarnita Ampil, neurologist from the UST Hospital, any type of diagnosis cannot be given to a patient if the procedure is not accepted worldwide or listed as one of the accepted disease processes. There are only certain symptoms that can probably fit in to a disease entity.

“If you see symptoms in the patient, you have to fit the symptoms in one category, in one disease process that is known. You cannot just create a new name of the disease based on the symptoms of the patient,” Ampil said.

“This motivational deficiency disorder was probably coined because they saw some symptoms in a patient. But this disease does not actually exist.”

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Disease or no disease, laziness is still a health problem everyone this Christmas and beyond should break. Work hard as a labor to one’s wellness and health! Kingbherly L. Li with reports from www.press.psprings.co.uk, www.newswise.com, and www.medicine.plosjournals.org

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