Apathy how to treat: parsing the question

How to deal with apathy and identify the causes of apathy syndromes

In this article, we will try to understand what apathy is in a person. Followers of Stoicism in ancient Greece the term apatheia, that is impassivity, denoted the way of thinking and actions of the sages of this philosophical school. These people were alien to the emotions of certain phenomena inherent in ordinary mortals.

In our time apathy is a mental state in which a person does not want anything, he is uninterested and bored with life, for him all around is boring and seems tedious. He has a hopeless lack of activity, complete emotional inactivity, detachment, lack of goals and interest in the future.

Apathy: the causes

The unwillingness to do something and complete indifference to everything is not at all the vagaries of a spoiled spontaneous personality. Coldness, detachment, lethargy appears abruptly or develops gradually, while the person is not able to control his feelings, does not understand their nature, is not aware of them, can not change anything independently.

Apathy is a special organization of the psyche, the inner world of a person. It is a kind of lever, which the nervous system uses in the period when the resource of mental energy is completely depleted under the influence of traumatic circumstances. The brain, stabilizing the activity of the organism in the course of prolonged excitation of the central nervous system, “turns on” the inhibition. Nature has taken care of such a “protector”, protecting the psyche during a strong nervous heat from the complete depletion of its reserves.

Psychiatry considers apathy syndrome not as a disease, but as a sign of a problem in the psyche of an individual – total indifference to anything in particular, but to everything in general.

Apathy, if it has taken hold of a person for a long time, can become a character trait or visit the individual for a short period of time. Causes of apathy are called the following:

1. emotional burnout as a result of work associated with a large psychological and temperamental output, the need to communicate with numerous people. 2. Overwork. 3. Stress for a long time. 4. Severe illnesses that wear out the body. 5. Organic lesions of the brain as a result of craniocerebral traumas, diseases of brain tissue, neuroinfections, etc.

Long-term absolute apathy is dangerous because the desire to do anything at all disappears, including personal hygiene.

Such a state of contemplative inactivity can also be a manifestation of such a severe mental disorder as schizophrenia, as well as dementia and depression. Somatic diseases may also be involved: HIV-infections, tick-borreliosis. In addition, apathy can be provoked by taking neuroleptics.

Attention, apathy! Symptoms

In addition to complete passivity and indifference, apathy is characterized by the following:

– refusal to work and maintain hygiene; – lowering of mood; – cessation of active communication with friends and acquaintances; – absent-mindedness; – refusal of favorite activities, hobbies; – physical weakness; – inability to concentrate; – slower reactions; – general weakness; – feeling of solitude, abandonment, fear; – memory failures; – dizziness.

These are the signs of apathy. If you have noticed them in yourself or your loved ones, and they last more than two weeks, it is a cause for concern. It is necessary to seek medical advice to find out how to get out of this situation.

It is necessary not to confuse depression with apathy: in the first case, a person has no moral and physical strength on the background of a depressed mood, and in the second – his physical condition is good, he just does not want to communicate with anyone and do something.

How to combat apathy

The state of apathy is quite possible after passing an important project, a session, etc. In this case, it is enough to get a good night’s sleep, rest, eat a full meal.

A close person can be saved from apathy by inviting to walk through the streets of the city, in the park or woods. Mountains are excellent – there are few people and the psyche will recover better and faster. Sports, saunas, massages are a great option.

New options of activity should be connected only after making sure that the already taken are easily tolerated and go for good. One has to be careful and not to overdo it in any way in his effort to get the person out of apathy.

It is not superfluous to take micronutrients and vitamins, tea, fresh juice, coffee, chocolate to combat apathy

In severe cases of apathy or if it is a manifestation of mental illness, you need to seek help from a psychologist. He will choose the tactic of exit from such a state. This may be psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, hypnosis. Medication support is not excluded.

Apathy causes, methods of diagnosis and treatment

Apathy is a mental state characterized by an indifferent and apathetic attitude toward life, an aversion to it and other people. It can be an independent syndrome or a symptom of serious illness, for example, schizophrenia. The appearance of apathy takes away a person’s vivid emotions and impressions, making life uninteresting and monotonous. It often leads to a decrease in the urge to perform any action, up to and including personal hygiene. Doctors consider depression a complication of apathy.

Symptoms of apathy

Apathy is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • fatigue;
  • lethargy;
  • general weakness;
  • indifference to everything around them;
  • mental disorders;
  • sleepiness;
  • lack of strength;
  • crying in case of slight excitement;
  • unstable emotional state;
  • hyperesthesia;
  • lack of appetite;
  • limitation of social contacts;
  • unwillingness to work and perform routine duties;
  • Inhibition of mental and physical reactions;
  • depression;
  • slurred speech;
  • lack of initiative;
  • impaired concentration.

External adverse factors can also adversely affect patients’ well-being. These include heat, long rides in transportation, mental trauma, and somatic illnesses.

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Date of publication: March 24, 2021

Check Date: March 24, 2021

Update Date: September 21, 2022

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Causes of apathy

Apathy occurs against the background of the following causes:

  • A period of convalescence after severe somatic diseases or infections
  • vitamin B deficiency
  • Physical, mental or emotional exhaustion
  • chronic stress
  • an occupation which requires a high level of concentration and responsibility for the lives of others
  • severe stress resulting from the death of a relative, a catastrophe and other negative events
  • premenstrual syndrome in women
  • brain damage
  • certain medications
  • advanced age
  • central nervous system disorders
  • schizophrenia
  • alcoholism
  • drug addiction
  • chronic diabetes mellitus
  • brain tumor

Types of apathy

According to the way of manifestation and mechanism of development apathy comes in 3 types:

  • Passive. The patient has no interest in any spheres of life, noted lethargy and detachment. Well-visible to the people around. Develops against the background of an unfavorable set of circumstances, which negatively affects the person’s psyche.
  • Active. Changes in the person are imperceptible to others, but apathy gradually destroys his psyche, leading to the emergence of mental illness or attempts to end the life.
  • Traumatic. Appears as a result of craniocerebral trauma or after an accident. It is accompanied by degenerative, dystrophic and atrophic changes in brain tissue. Traumatic apathy causes lethargy, passivity, low susceptibility to external factors. It is not uncommon for patients to lie down a lot, and their interests and vital needs are limited.


To identify apathy, the doctor conducts an interview and tries to find out if the patient has the following signs:

  • Recent emotional distress
  • Absence of communication with family and friends for a long time and intense agitation at the thought of having to talk to them
  • gloomy thoughts
  • Sloppy appearance and unwillingness to care for oneself
  • decreased capacity for work
  • absent-mindedness
  • tension
  • sleep disturbance
  • dizziness
  • feeling of fear and loneliness
  • lack of joyful emotions
  • insecurity

A therapist, neurologist, psychoneurologist and endocrinologist can help determine the cause of apathy. If necessary, they prescribe general and biochemical blood tests, tests to detect infection and MRI.

What doctor to see

If you suffer from apathy, visit a psychotherapist. The doctor will conduct a course of psychotherapy or, if necessary, involve a psychiatrist, trauma therapist, endocrinologist or other specialists.

Klyuchkina Ekaterina Nikolayevna

Khachatryan Igor Samvelovich

Arslan Visradievich Shekhbulatov

Tremaskin Arkady Fedorovich

Mikhail Mikhailovich Efremov

Victor Victorovich Shantyr

Artyom Leonidovich Burulev

Roman Vadimovich Shaydulin

Sargsyan Artsrun Hovhannesovich

Livanov Alexander Vladimirovich

Igor Valeryevich Solovyov

Alexander Viktorovich Kuchenkov

Samat Turgunbekovich Barktabasov

Yaroslav Ivanovich Yarovsky

Dmitriy Vyacheslavovich Slavin

Alexey Vyacheslavovich Gromov

Konovalova Galina Nikolaevna

Treatment of apathy

With mild apathy the patient should regularly be out in the fresh air, adjust the regime of work and rest and maintain moderate physical activity. In this case, the patient is helped by traveling and socializing with friends. Well-proven in the fight against the disease are massage sessions, visits to the bathhouse or sauna. In order to improve the quality of sleep, the patient should take sedatives.

If the patient is diagnosed with traumatic apathy, he is prescribed nootropics and general restorative medications. If the patient is hyperexcitable, he should take neuroleptics and tranquilizers, and if he is lethargic, he should take stimulant medications, tincture of lemongrass or eleutherococcus.

To treat apathy, the CMRI network of clinics use the following methods:

Chiropractic therapy.

Intramuscular injections

Intravenous injections

Injection blocks


Intra-articular injections, injections


Therapeutic massage

Fabrication of custom orthopedic insoles Formtotix

Reflex Therapy

Ozone therapy

Plasma therapy

SVF therapy of joints

Complex rehabilitation on the Aidflex MFTR multifunctional simulator

Therapeutic physical training (LFTP)

Intravenous laser blood irradiation

Intrathecal electrical stimulation

Shockwave therapy (SWT)


Untreated severe apathy causes impaired thinking process, memory impairment, slurred speech and blurred speech. Patients’ movements become fuzzy and insufficiently coordinated. There is also a devaluing and atrophying of personal experiences, resulting in a lack of emotion.

Traumatic apathy can lead to affective and hallucinatory delusional psychoses. Severe forms of the disease cause affective states, depression, and suicide attempts.

Preventing apathy

To prevent apathy, doctors recommend following a number of simple rules:

  • Avoid strong stresses
  • Adjust the work and rest routine
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take more frequent walks outdoors
  • eat right
  • take vitamin and mineral complexes
  • limit alcohol intake
  • quit smoking
  • do moderate physical exercise daily
  • stop associating with people who have a negative attitude
  • treat all diseases in time, so that they do not become chronic
  • avoid addiction to psychotropic drugs or drugs

In order not to fall into a state of apathy, if you want to cry, do not hold back your emotions. When feeling tired at work, you should take breaks to rest. On weekends it is desirable to distract from various businesses and the computer and spend time in nature, take a walk in the park, go to the cinema or visit an exhibition. Lonely people can get a dog. Regular care and long walks with the animal will help to develop a sense of responsibility and prevent the appearance of apathy.

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