Apathy how to deal with it – we describe all the nuances

What is apathy and how to deal with it

The complete absence of any interests, aspirations in life – this disease is called apathy. Sick people become passive, try to avoid communication, move little. The pathological state can be short-term. But often it lasts for a long time. The disease can occur against a background of psychological problems, organic lesions of the brain, mental illness, and somatic.

Apathy – what is it?

The driving force of our lives are emotions. They help us rejoice, learn new things. But constantly being in a state of emotional lift the human body can not. For this reason, often in place of emotionality comes apathy.

The name of the disease “apathy” comes from the word “pathos”. In Greek it means “feeling, emotion, suffering.” The addition of the prefix “a” gives the word a negative meaning. The term “apathy” refers to the human condition when a person lacks any emotions or feelings.

Apathy in uncomplicated forms is often present in quite healthy people. But more often, it is a symptom of serious physical and mental disorders. Apathy is not an independent phenomenon, but a syndrome. They often occur as a consequence of other diseases-infectious, Alzheimer’s disease and others.

Symptoms of apathy

Apathy is inherent in the loss of interest in all things that used to be important. A person gradually loses all emotions.

  • Difficulties in performing daily tasks;
  • Constant fatigue;
  • The appearance of slurred speech;
  • A feeling of indifference;
  • Problems with concentration;
  • Closeness, limitation of social circle;
  • Lack of interest in various activities;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Lack of motivation to move toward goals;
  • Low energy state.

Do you or your loved ones have apathy?

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There is also a sharp decrease in social contacts. You have no desire to see your relatives, friends or take part in the festivities. The patient has unemotional reactions to all life events (positive, negative). Planning of affairs, making vital decisions is shifted to other people or postponed to the future. The person ceases to be interested in gaining new knowledge, experience, and does not meet new people. He is indifferent even to his own problems.

Causes of apathy

The causes of apathy can be very different. But they can be divided into the following main groups:

  • Psychological;
  • Psychological;
  • Neurological;
  • Consequences of taking medications.
  • A person makes stringent demands on himself or herself. Often unattainable goals are set. Then there is a feeling of worthlessness, a lack of desire to make any effort to move forward.
  • The person can not define values and goals in life, and this leads to a lack of understanding of how to proceed.
  • Expecting others to do everything for you and take responsibility for yourself is an expression of a person’s immaturity, infantilism, which leads to apathy.
  • Fear of performing any actions independently, making decisions is often connected with expectation of punishment for such actions.

Apathy can also be caused by an acute stressful situation, a traumatic event in which a person falls into a stupor and loses sensitivity.

Apathy syndrome is often a component of various mental disorders. For example, depression, acting as an independent disease or a symptom of other diseases. Often the causes are hidden in the presence of schizophrenia, a variety of disorders of the psychotic type. As part of such illnesses, apathy usually manifests itself already in advanced stages. In this case, it is extremely difficult to treat.

In people with symptoms of apathy, parts of the brain may be affected. This applies to the frontal lobes that control a person’s emotions, behavior, and goals. An apathetic state can lead to:

  • CHMT – bruise to the head, concussion;
  • Neuroinfections – HIV, meningitis, brain syphilis and many others;
  • Frontotemporal degeneration;
  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Tumors localized in the frontal part;
  • Infarcts, strokes of the brain.

The use of certain medications, taking psychoactive drugs and alcohol can also cause apathy.

  • From neuroleptics, which treat mood and sleep disorders, psychosis, often causes apathy, lethargy, asthenia.
  • With prolonged therapy with antidepressants, there is sometimes a complication in the form of induced apathy syndrome. Reactions are dulled, the emotional component decreases.
  • Excessive use of tranquilizers causes lethargy, absence of emotions, apathy.
  • A pathological apathetic condition also occurs during withdrawal syndrome. It is quite often accompanied by a feeling of sleepiness, brokenness, irritability and aggressiveness.

Types of apathy

  • Passive – the patient shows no interest in life;
  • Active – this form of the disease is quite rare. It has almost no external manifestations. The patient simply destroys himself slowly from the inside. This can end in suicide or a suicide attempt.
  • As a result of head injuries, there are mental changes expressed in the appearance of apathy.

Depending on the severity, apathy is divided into the following categories:

  • Mild forms of the disease are often manifested in the fact that the patient finds it difficult to decide on any action, domestic problems. The patient does not want to do anything. Often this disease is accompanied by anhedonia. The patient has no feelings of joy, pleasure from the work done, activities which were previously joyful.
  • Further development of the pathology leads to more severe stages. It is difficult for a person to get out of bed, take a shower, or wash his face. He may postpone even going to the bathroom. The patient is not able to take care of himself, go to the store, prepare food, eat. In this condition, the person is completely indifferent to everything going on around him. He or she can sit or lie in one place for a long time, not moving or talking. Inattention and absent-mindedness are typical for such a condition.
  • Advanced cases are characterized by the fact that the person completely stops taking care of himself. He stops eating and taking care of his personal hygiene. The result is exhaustion, exacerbation of chronic diseases, infections appear.

Do you or your loved ones have apathy?

Contact our clinic for help – we guarantee treatment results. We have some of the best doctors in Moscow.

How to help someone with apathy

To help a person with apathy, you need to convince him to see a doctor. This is not easy, since the patient has little sensitivity, it is difficult for him to do anything. But only diagnostics and examinations will allow to establish the exact cause of the disease. The doctor will be able to prescribe the appropriate treatment, give recommendations.

When the causes of the apathetic state are psychological, psychiatric moments, it is also necessary to activate the patient. Non-tiring walks, activities that used to delight the person, the gradual involvement in family matters is very important to remove the state of apathy. It is better to do it all little by little, to rejoice in any achievements.

How to get out of apathy on your own

  • Go and see a neurologist or psychiatrist for a consultation. There are different reasons for apathy.
  • If necessary, it is necessary to pass tests, to undergo examination of the brain.
  • You must necessarily change your lifestyle. It is necessary to sleep more, not to be overworked, eat right and timely.
  • Go to counseling to a psychologist. Psychotherapy will help to better understand the goals in life, the values. She will teach you how to cope with stress more effectively, to take responsibility for their actions.

If there are infectious diseases, mental disorders, you should try to strictly follow the treatment prescribed by the doctor, in time and without interruptions take medication.

Diagnosis of apathy

To diagnose apathy, the doctor needs to conduct a general examination of the patient, find out the details and condition of the patient. If necessary, additional examinations are carried out, tests are taken. Only after establishing the exact causes of the disease, an individual therapy is selected.


Therapy for apathy depends on the severity of the disease, its neglect. With the initial symptoms of the pathology, a person just needs a good rest, a change of familiar surroundings. The method of treatment is chosen based on the cause of the disease.

Treatment of apathetic states consists of medication therapy, psychotherapy, compliance with certain recommendations of a specialist. Patients are shown a change of social circle, place of residence, work. It is necessary to constantly do physical exercises, to find activities of interest.

Psychological counseling, psychotherapy is used if the patient has pronounced symptoms of apathy. Here they use psychoanalysis and methods of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The doctor arranges individual sessions, where he discusses with the patient the causes of apathy, suggests ways to overcome it. The person learns to feel emotions anew, to resist stress, and to set new goals in life. It is also possible to use group training. By interacting with other patients, the patient increases their motivation and interest.

  • Tranquilizers;
  • Stimulant, neuroleptic medications;
  • Dehydration therapy;
  • Vitamin therapy.

What complications may arise without treatment

Untimely diagnosed apathy will gradually develop into depression. If the pathological condition lasts more than a month, there is a risk of suicide attempts. Patients in the special risk category include:

  • Those who have a traumatic brain injury;
  • Suffering from alcohol addiction, taking drugs;
  • Who have emotional lability – rapidly changing moods;
  • Who are hypersensitive.

Do you or your loved ones have apathy?

Contact our clinic for help – we guarantee treatment results. We have some of the best doctors in Moscow.


  • Avoid stress loads, when possible;
  • Take more time for walks;
  • Eat a healthy diet;
  • Exclude the use of alcoholic beverages;
  • Constantly engage in physical exercise.

Few private psychiatric clinics in Moscow offer truly qualified treatment for such a long list of diseases, as it is practiced by our clinic “Hospital”.

  • Anorexia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Delirium disorder
  • Bulimia
  • Hallucinations
  • Voices in the head
  • Dementia
  • Depressive psychosis
  • Hypochondriacal neurosis
  • Manic depressive psychosis
  • Obsessive states
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Neuroses of various etiologies
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychoses
  • Eating disorders
  • Rehabilitation after Covid 19
  • Somatoform vegetative disorders
  • Fears and Phobias
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Schizotypal disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Encephalopathy
  • Apathy towards life
  • Insomnia
  • Lingering depression
  • Hysterical neurosis
  • Nightmares and terrors in their sleep
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Nervous breakdowns
  • Nervous tics
  • Pathological sleepiness
  • Psychosomatic illness
  • Stress disorder
  • Enuresis and encopresis
  • Initial stage depression
  • Childhood traumas
  • Unhappy love
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Solution of inner problems
  • Family problems
  • Difficulties in communication
  • Autism
  • Dysarthria
  • Mental retardation
  • Delayed speech development in a child
  • Treatment of Aggression in Adolescents
  • Treatment of anorexia in adolescents
  • Treatment of teen depression
  • Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adolescents – how to treat the disorder

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What is apathy – an independent illness, a condition or a symptom of some other psychosomatic illness? When does it occur, what are its symptoms and how is it treated? These questions are answered by the Head Doctor of Harmony Health Medical Center, psychiatrist, psychiatrist-drug therapist and psychotherapist Vladislav Sipovich (read more in our article about the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and psychotherapist).

What is understood by the term apathy?

In Greek apathy means impassivity (ἀ is the negation of “without” and πάθος means passion, excitement). In scientific understanding apathy is a psycho-emotional state, the main manifestations of which are indifference, apathy, detachment from events, lack of emotion and inaction. People often interpret apathy as laziness, i.e. unwillingness to do anything or engage in anything. In fact, people take into account only the external, directly concerning them and often irritating to others, manifestations of apathy. Who would like an uninterested, inactive and disengaged being at home or at work. And this at a time when you are making incredible efforts to keep afloat family, business and work for yourself and “that guy”? But it’s not that simple, apathy towards life – it’s not the fault, but the misfortune of the person who gradually enters this state.

Many scientists see apathy as the initial stage of depression, which can eventually lead to catastrophic changes in a person’s personality. Without professional psychological help, it is quite difficult and almost impossible to regain interest in life for an apathetic person. Therefore, treat the laziness of your loved one as a serious disorder of his psycho-emotional state and seek help from specialists as early as possible.

It is necessary to remember that apathy can also be observed in healthy people, for example, to be a special character trait of a melancholic or aging person. In these cases, reduced social and psycho-emotional activity can be considered the norm. The most alarming thing is the sudden and inexplicable passivity of a recently active, sociable and industrious person.

According to the ICD-10, apathy is considered one of the “symptoms and signs of cognitive, behavioral and emotional deviations from the norm.

What are the most characteristic symptoms of apathy?

Symptoms of a state of apathy can be of varying degrees of intensity – from a weakly pronounced decrease in the emotional background to a complete lack of willpower (abulia), adynamia, refusal to eat and even perform natural physiological needs.

Somatic manifestations of apathy are expressed insignificantly, except when it is a consequence of an aggravation of chronic illnesses or the underlying disease. Then the entire symptom complex corresponds to the symptomatology of the underlying disease.

The external symptoms of an apathetic state are: – Scanty facial expressions. – Automatism in movements. – Monotonous speech. – Sluggish reactions, including responses to questions. – Reduced sociability. – Loss of interest in work and active rest.

The person continues to carry out the duties – to go to work, to communicate with friends, to be with children, i.e. to carry out the social functions, but all it is more out of habit, without internal desire and pleasure. Interest in life gradually fades, and the person does not have the strength and mental energy to overcome laziness and the growing melancholy. By the way, the phenomenon of melancholy in the modern interpretation corresponds to the state of depression, although at the domestic level is often understood as apathy.

Mental symptoms are much more substantial and include such symptoms: – Weakness to the point of complete impotence. – Rapid fatigue from even the simplest activities. – A feeling of constant fatigue, when even doing nothing becomes tiresome. – Decreased or complete lack of interest in previously favorite activities and hobbies, including games and entertainment. – A lowered or depressed mood. – Closeness, desire for solitude. – Severe sleepiness even after a good night’s sleep. – Discomfort with feelings with the prevalence of gloomy thoughts, hopelessness and depression. – Decreased appetite, sometimes irritation at the smell, taste and appearance of certain foods or dishes. – Problems with memory and concentration. – Lack of initiative in all areas of life, even in sexual relations.

It is important not to confuse low moods in a healthy person with symptoms of apathy. If in the first case, the deterioration of mood has a brief transient character, then the apathetic state is permanent or predominant. If it lasts more than 2 weeks – it’s time to sound the alarm. Especially since it’s impossible not to notice changes in a person with apathy, so they are striking to the eye. The feeling is that all the vitality is going out of the person.

The patient believes that nothing depends on him in this life, to do something and fight senseless, all his attempts to solve something or achieve something are doomed to failure. So why try, it is better to hide from reality, do nothing and worry about nothing. Such psycho-emotional withdrawal from life may eventually lead to physical extinction of body functions and premature death. After all, life is movement in any form – emotional and behavioral reactions, physical activity, normal metabolism with a balance of energy expenditure and synthesis. All this is movement at different levels – social, organismal and molecular. Conversely, apathy is adynamic in any location, and in extremely neglected cases, it is coding the body to self-destruction.

What are the causes of apathy?

The reason for the development of apathy in a healthy person is most often the repeated inability to solve problems arising in the family, team, business, creativity or other areas of activity. For example, unsuccessful and long walks through instances, unsuccessful job search, problems with bringing up difficult children in adolescence, etc. Constant failures in people with an untempered psyche lead to a desire to give up on everything, to decide that the problem is not so important and to stop fighting. Only the strong of spirit are able to resist negativity and stress, but many people simply give up, become convinced of the meaninglessness of their actions and go away from reality into a state of apathy.

I can name the most frequent reasons for the development of apathy in people. These are such phenomena as: – Constant and prolonged mental stress. – Lack of proper rest. – Abrupt, unforeseen or unpleasant changes in life – the departure of relatives and friends, dismissal, divorce, retirement, moving to another place of residence, etc. – Professional burnout. – Premenstrual syndrome. – Pregnancy and childbirth. – Constant guilt and shame about any kind of socially disapproved needs, including gambling addiction, alcohol dependence, being LGBT, etc. – Prolonged anticipation of an important event (diagnosis, court order, critical review, ranking, decision of a certification committee). – Taking hormonal, contraceptive, anti-allergic and sedative medications. – Psychological pressure from relatives and superiors. – Misunderstanding and non-recognition of others. – Perfectionism, as the striving to achieve the ideal, and the idea that everything in the world should be perfect. Sooner or later the perfectionist is faced with an imperfect reality and the futility of his attempts to improve it. And this is already a direct path to apathy.

In addition, apathy can be a consequence of certain mental and somatic diseases: – Depression. – Schizophrenia and other CNS diseases. – Endocrine disorders, leading to hormonal imbalance. – Various kinds of dementias. – Alzheimer’s disease. – Immunodeficiency conditions, such as AIDS. – Cancer and brain injuries.

As you can see, there are many reasons for the emergence and development of apathy, but in any case it requires careful examination, differential diagnosis and competent treatment by a specialist. With a mild form of apathy may be limited to a visit to an endocrinologist and a psychologist, with more pronounced symptoms will be effective observation and treatment by a psychotherapist.

How is apathy treated?

If apathy is short-lived (not more than 2 weeks) and transient, and the person understands its causes, then to restore a normal mental state is enough to just give oneself a break, for a time to step back from vigorous activity, to reconsider the circumstances that caused apathy, look at the situation from the outside and choose the right course of action. Good sleep, a healthy diet with a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals, shifting attention to hobbies and active rest are able to return the person cheerfulness, an active attitude in life and the desire to solve problems instead of brushing them off.

If the state of apathy lasts more than 2 weeks, even those with a strong will cannot cope with it on their own. In this case, the help of a doctor becomes simply necessary. Treatment should take place consistently and under the control of a specialist. This is especially important if the patient has slow speech, inadequate emotional reactions, thinking and memory disorders.

The desire of some people to regain their previous activity and their interest in life with the help of alcohol will only worsen the situation – join apathy and hangover syndrome, which together will finally plunge the patient into prostration. This method of “treatment” is absolutely contraindicated, as well as self-treatment with antidepressants on the type “a friend told you so”. The only thing you can afford is tonic teas.

Psychotherapy for apathy combines primarily the identification of the underlying cause of apathy, as well as verbal (verbal) and, if necessary, medication methods of treatment. One common method of diagnosis is Gestalt therapy.

Without finding out the reason for the development of the state of apathy, it is impossible to prescribe the correct treatment. For example, with endocrine disorders need to restore the normal balance of hormones, with organic lesions of the brain may need the help of an oncologist or neurosurgeon. Without eliminating the root cause, effective treatment of apathetic states simply becomes impossible, it becomes purely symptomatic and has no long-term stable effect. For diagnosis, the psychotherapist may prescribe consultations with other profile specialists – oncologist, neurologist, endocrinologist, narcologist, as well as a number of studies: 1. General blood analysis. 2. Biochemical and hormonal examinations (thyroid hormones, adrenal, sex hormones). 3. MRI of the brain. 4. Tests for infections, etc.

Communication with the psychotherapist, his use of modern and proven effective methods, the competent choice of tactics and strategy of treatment is the key to its effectiveness. Medicines are involved only under the control of the doctor, and then, when he sees the appropriateness.

Among the medications used to treat apathy are the following: – Stimulants in the form of nootropics, extracts of lemongrass and eleutherococcus. Prescribed for general lethargy and weakness. – Antidepressants are indicated when apathy and depression are combined, as well as when there is a threat of the apathetic state turning into a depressive one. – Vitamins as general tonic agents and stimulants of nervous activity. – Diuretics are prescribed as dehydration therapy to relieve swelling of the brain in case of traumatic brain injuries. – Tranquilizers and neuroleptics are prescribed in cases where destructive changes in the behavior and psyche of the patient are observed.

The choice of drugs is dictated primarily by the cause and severity of the condition, individual characteristics and the prevalence of one or another symptom.

Much also depends on the patient and his environment. This is primarily a normal, adequate sleep, proper nutrition, lack of stress, complete or at least partial rejection of bad habits, compliance with diet, work and rest, moderate physical activity. In a word, it is called a healthy lifestyle.

Question of the day – is apathy and depression really one of the main manifestations of postcoid syndrome?

First of all, let’s clarify what is meant by postcovid syndrome. It is the entire complex of complications that occur after cure of a covid infection. Mental disorders are only part of the whole symptom complex, but they last for months and affect not only the life of the person who has been cured, but also that of the person around him or her. Apathy, which develops after discharge from hospital, is described by patients as a plunge into profound indifference, absence of any desires, even sexual ones, complete powerlessness and fog in the head. To the slightest stress the person can react with incredible self-pity and tears. The resulting chain of “stress-apathy-depression” often leads to suicide attempts. Such is the sad reality of what happens. It should be noted that during the pandemic, the need to seek psychological and psychiatric help increased significantly. Lockdowns with forced self-isolation, the build-up of covid hysteria, financial losses, and a significant restriction of social circles all played a role here.

A feature of apathy in the postcoid syndrome is its fast transition to apathetic depression with expressed and sharply rolling suicidal moods. Moreover, it is difficult for others to notice and evaluate the severity of the condition. The person seems to behave normally, nothing extraordinary happens, and suddenly – a suicide attempt. Therefore, be extremely attentive to your loved ones who have had a coronavirus infection, at the slightest deviation in their behavior, consult a doctor, otherwise the consequences could be unpredictable. As they say, “the virus goes to your head”, and it is very dangerous.

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