Apathy how to get rid of it: learn from all angles

How to cope with apathy

Author of the article: Anna Narushevich Anna psychologist consultant, adolescent psychologist, family psychologist. Practical experience: 15 years.

Apathy is a kind of psychological defense mechanism – a signal that the body gives when the physical and psychological exhaustion. It is a state of impassivity and indifference both to yourself and to everything around you. You don’t feel like doing even your favorite things. You have no desire to make plans, to dream, to develop. An apathetic state combines indifference, apathy, passivity and detachment from everything going on around you. Other symptoms include:

  • dulling of emotions;
  • sluggishness, laziness;
  • sleep disturbances (drowsiness or insomnia);
  • memory lapses;
  • reluctance to engage in communication with anyone;
  • physical weakness;
  • loss of appetite.

Causes of apathy

Even mentally and physically healthy people are prone to apathy. When your life is so full of events that barely enough hours in the day, the appearance of apathy is inevitable. And in order to gain strength, the body goes into “offline mode.

Among the psychological causes of apathy are:

  • work without rest and weekends;
  • idleness and passivity;
  • dealing with unpleasant people (pessimists, aggressors, manipulators);
  • pressure from society;
  • prolonged painful, depressing and inhibiting personal development relationships;
  • being in constant stress;
  • Harmful addictions (alcohol, drugs, smoking, food, etc.)
  • psychologically traumatic situations (death of a loved one, relationship breakup, dismissal, etc.)

Because of the above reasons the brain becomes overloaded and overexcited. Turning on this very “autonomous mode”, the brain makes an attempt to save the human body and personality. Staying in a state of detachment for a while is even useful. But if you understand that it has been somewhat prolonged, make an effort and try to defeat this silent but insidious enemy. Don’t know where to start? In this article, we will help you understand how to cope with apathy.

How to get rid of apathy and depression: tips from a psychologist

Now we will reveal the secret of how to overcome fatigue and apathy to life: you will need to make a number of important life changes:

  1. Change your social circle, if it includes pessimists, panickers, lovers of shifting responsibility to others or complaining about life. Surround yourself with optimistic and pleasant people;
  2. Bring the new and vivid impressions into your life (from a trip to another city to a parachute jump) – this will excite you and stimulate the production of adrenaline and serotonin, which is also called the hormone of happiness;
  3. Even if you do not feel any desire to set and achieve goals, it still needs to be done. Start small: choose a goal that is not too significant that you could not achieve before;
  4. give yourself a nice gift – buy something you’ve been dreaming of for a long time, meet up with friends, etc.;
  5. Carry out a general cleaning in your home: get rid of all the old, unnecessary, causing negative emotions, fill your environment with cleanliness and light.

How to overcome laziness, apathy and fatigue: help from professionals

The most common response to complaints about apathy is the advice to pick yourself up and cheer up. People tend to see this as a manifestation of selfishness, laziness, and disorganization. In some cases, if the apathy is mild, such advice does help. Otherwise, people become even more withdrawn, and the apathetic state worsens, gradually turning into depression.

Suffering from apathy, a person is constantly in a depressed state, experiencing a sense of helplessness and alienation. If this condition is too deep, lasting at least three weeks, professional help should be sought immediately.

In modern medicine, any, even the most complex forms of mental disorders can be treated. However, it is important to remember that treatment will be more effective if it is begun when the first warning signs are detected.

The Center for Harmony of Body and Soul “Here and Now” is a cozy space where you can get the necessary psychological support. And the consultation of a psychologist is only the first step on the way to achieving the desired result, calm and balance of mind.

How to cope with apathy, laziness and fatigue – independently or under the guidance of a specialist? It’s up to you to decide! The most important thing is to sincerely want to get out of this state and start doing something right now. Only then will you win. And remember: a life filled with joy and emotions is beautiful!


What is apathy – an independent disease, 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 the 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 your loved one’s laziness as a serious violation of his or her psycho-emotional state and seek help from specialists as early as possible.

However, it should be remembered that apathy can also occur in healthy people, for example, it can be a special character trait of a melancholic or aging person. In these cases, reduced social and psycho-emotional activity can be considered normal. 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 a root cause 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 symptomatology is much more substantial and includes such symptoms: – Weakness to the point of complete powerlessness. – 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, it is pointless to do or fight, 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 people with a strong spirit are able to resist negativity and stress, but many people simply give up, become convinced of the meaninglessness of their actions and escape from reality in a state of apathy.

I can name the most common causes 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 family 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 dementia. – 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 has a short-term (no more than 2 weeks) and transient character, and the person understands its causes, then to restore a normal mental state it is enough simply to give oneself a break, to step back from active activity for a while, to reconsider the circumstances that caused apathy, to look at the situation from aside and choose the right line of behavior. 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 a tonic tea.

Psychotherapy for apathy combines primarily identifying the root cause of apathy, as well as verbal (verbal) and, if necessary, medication treatments. 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 conditions 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, the individual characteristics, and the predominance of one or another symptom.

Much also depends on the patient and his environment. This is primarily a normal full-fledged sleep, proper nutrition, absence 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.

A burning question – is one of the main manifestations of post-coital syndrome really apathy and depression?

First of all, let’s find out what is meant by postcoid syndrome. It is the whole complex of complications seen after cure of a covid infection. Mental disorders are only part of the whole symptom complex, but last for months and affect not only the life of the person who has recovered, but also his environment. 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 their part 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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