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Most people know firsthand what apathy is. Disappointment and fatigue are part of life, and the occurrence of apathy is a type of reaction to stress. Traditionally, this concept is seen as a state that manifests itself in a loss of interest, vitality, and emotional responses. Each of us has periods of moral fatigue, depression and indifference to what is going on. All of this negatively affects work, interferes with personal relationships and enjoyment of life.
Apathy is a painful state of lethargy, indifference, lack of energy and motivation. Interest in hobbies and things that used to seem exciting and important may be lost.
Such signs are certainly not uncommon. However, do not underestimate them. You can not be sure if you have apathy that it is nothing that you should not pay attention to. In some situations, this condition not only reduces the quality of life, but can also be dangerous. For example, if a person is ill with a somatic disease, apathy will interfere with his motivation for treatment. Apathy can also be a symptom of a number of mental and neurological disorders.
Therefore, if you notice in yourself or a loved one alarming signs, it is better not to ignore the problem, and try to understand it.
Causes of apathy
All the reasons why apathy appears can be divided into two large groups: external and internal.
External causes are factors that act on the brain from the external environment or from other areas of the body. What causes apathy in such people:
- Severe stress – the loss of a loved one, dismissal from work, man-made or natural disasters; can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder .
- Emotional burnout – chronic stress, work with high responsibility, stressful lifestyle; high probability of neurasthenia, reactive depression may occur.
- Somatic diseases – diseases of organs that affect the brain indirectly; for example, vascular atherosclerosis, which causes strokes
- Endocrine disorders .
- Side effects of medications : drugs that reduce blood pressure, sleeping pills, birth control.
Apathy can be a symptom of a number of mental and neurological disorders: depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease.
All of the above are not uncommon for a person who lives in the modern city. An emotional reaction in the form of situational apathy in these cases is a variant of the norm and passes along with the elimination of the stress factor.
Why does apathy to everything that happens, when there are no external reasons and occasions? Here, internal reasons come to the fore. Apathy can be a symptom of a number of mental and neurological disorders: depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease.
Apathy in depression . Apathy can occur in major depressive disorder as well as in dysthymia and masked depression. The latter is a type of depression in which somatic complaints (spinal pain, itching, respiratory disorders) come to the fore in the absence of objective signs of the corresponding diseases. These are the so-called “masks” of depression, such conditions often cause difficulties in stating a diagnosis.
Apathy in simple schizophrenia . This form of schizophrenia is characterized by a slow progression and loss of natural mental functions. Emotional coldness, pathological indifference, thinking disorders come to the fore. Delusions and hallucinations are not observed at all or hardly at all, due to which the illness may go unnoticed for a long time. Without specialist intervention leads to complete social isolation and disintegration of the personality.
Apathy in Alzheimer’s disease . Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects the frontal lobes. The occurrence of apathy is associated with damage to these very parts of the brain, as well as the development of dementia. Apathy develops in the majority of patients with this disease.
What does apathy look like: symptoms and signs
Apathy deprives a person of interest in life, desires and motivation. The lack of these important stimuli has a detrimental effect on behavior and performance. Low energy levels will interfere with the performance of both daily chores and taking on new accomplishments.
Over time, despite the actual deterioration of the condition, patients talk less and less about their problem, but go deeper and deeper into it.
Emotions are dulled, so that all the things that used to arouse interest no longer resonate emotionally. Apathy attacks take away interest in almost all aspects of life. A person may be indifferent when long-awaited events occur, or when meeting new people. It is difficult to make an effort even to solve personal problems. Accumulated problems at work and in personal life only aggravate the situation, because apathy is one of the ways of the psyche to ward off difficult situations and overstrain.
At first, when manifestations have not reached their peak, people may express similar complaints: “I have some kind of apathy, I don’t want anything”, “everything is boring, I can’t concentrate, I have no desire”. Over time, despite the actual worsening of their condition, patients talk less and less about their problem, but go deeper and deeper into it. If your loved one is complaining to you about the burdensome feelings, don’t ignore these words – the person may need help.
The main signs of apathy are:
- decreased or absent aspirations and motivation;
- changes in emotions and behavior: decreased interest in life, communication, previous hobbies and new events, difficulty performing current tasks, lethargy, sluggishness, poor concentration, decreased thinking functions and more;
- impact on quality of life: changes in behavior have a negative impact on professional success and personal life;
- Behavioral changes are not related to drug and alcohol use.
It is clinically significant for a person to have these signs for four weeks. However, if you notice apathy in yourself or a loved one that lasts less, but causes considerable discomfort and interferes with your life, do not delay in contacting a specialist. A professional will quickly help to understand the situation and understand whether it is just a bad mood, fatigue, or a condition that, in order to prevent complications, requires correction.
Diagnostic measures that can be performed on a person with complaints of feeling apathetic:
- Consultation with a psychiatric psychotherapist
- Pathopsychological examination: helps to more deeply
- mental functions such as thinking, attention and memory. The method helps detect disorders in their early stages and prevent the onset of severe manifestations
- Laboratory and instrumental techniques to confirm
- Diagnosis: Neurotest, Neurophysiological test system, EEG, CT, MRI of the brain (if organic pathology is suspected)
- Consultation of related specialists (neurologist)
How to treat apathy
Eliminating any mental health problem takes time. If you or your loved one has signs of apathy, how to help in this situation most quickly and effectively, will prompt an experienced specialist. It is necessary to establish and analyze the cause of this condition. It depends on her choice of the right combination of the following therapeutic approaches.
Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy will help in the first place.
Individual psychotherapy is one of the most effective methods. If the stress factor cannot be eliminated, the doctor will help find a way to cope with it in another way. During the sessions patients learn to understand the problem better, fight their fears and think positively. During the conversation, you will understand how to get over apathy and other burdensome feelings.
Pharmacotherapy. If the cause is a mental disorder or anxiety state, depending on the problem, the doctor will prescribe appropriate modern medications. For example, mild tranquilizers are used, which effectively relieve anxiety, or antidepressants, which normalize mood have a positive effect on mental activity. Neuroleptics can be used.
- Support from family and friends: if you want to know more exactly how to help a person with apathy, a specialist will tell you how best to do it in your case
- normalization of lifestyle, sufficient sleep, elimination of the stress factor: this point is important for apathy of any etiology
- physiotherapeutic treatment, massage, vitamin therapy, adaptogens: recovery of the body after difficult, exhausting periods (overwork, past diseases)
Remember that health is not limited to physical parameters. The World Health Organization defines it as an optimal state not only of physical, but mental and social well-being. Only with this combination is it possible to sufficiently realize your potential and enjoy life. Emotions, interest, and desires are necessary for an optimal mental state. As we can see, a person who suffers from apathy does not quite meet the definition of health.
All people can experience apathy, which makes them painfully passive and lethargic. Of course, this threatens missed opportunities and wasted time. But such periods can be seen as a temporary phase that almost everyone goes through. It is necessary to remember that a long stay in a state of apathy reduces the quality of life, and the lack of help in this situation can trigger the emergence and progression of serious mental illness (depression, anxiety disorders and others).
Apathy: what causes this disorder, clinical signs and treatment
Apathy in medicine is not considered a separate disease, but only a symptom of any pathology. Such a condition can occur for a variety of reasons. It is very difficult to detect this disorder at an early stage, because people often put off feeling unwell by the lack of adequate sleep, fatigue, and the negative effects of stressful situations. And it’s true, these circumstances can provoke apathy, but they are not the only root cause.
What does the term mean?
Apathy is a psychoemotional state in which a person’s interest in life is sharply reduced or completely absent, his indifference to the surrounding world, other people is manifested, there is suppression of emotions. This disorder is characterized by various variations in the severity of clinical signs, up to an absolute loss of aspiration for life itself.
Apathy is often the first and most obvious symptom of severe mental diseases (schizophrenia, depression) or organic pathologies of the cerebral cortex. This condition develops in people who have suffered severe stress, as well as those suffering from serious or incurable illnesses (heart attack, stroke, cancer).
Why does apathy arise
This problem occurs in a person for many reasons that have an external and internal origin. These include the following factors:
Pathologies of the endocrine system.
A strong stress influence – the development of apathy in this case can cause post-traumatic mental disorder. Such a disorder in patients occurs after the loss of work, the death of loved ones, as a result of a natural or man-made disaster.
Somatic diseases are disorders of the organs that directly affect the brain. An example is vascular atherosclerosis, which leads to a stroke.
Side effects of medications – some drugs can have an adverse effect on the psychological state of a person (birth control pills, sleeping pills, etc.).
Psycho-emotional burnout – with this disorder, apathy can be provoked by constant tension, chronic stress, too intense lifestyle, hard work with a high degree of responsibility.
The clinical picture of apathy includes the following signs:
Poor appetite – a change in the psychological state of the patient almost always affects the need for food, which is greatly reduced. The person may even be irritated by the smell or taste of certain foods. Rapid weight loss is possible.
Insularity – when communicating with loved ones and even strangers, an unwillingness to talk is manifested. Such a person rejects the usual pastime, striving for solitude. Being alone, he is sad, feeling the hopelessness of his situation and not knowing what to do next and how to live.
Depressed mood – sometimes the patient gets better, but not for long. He has no joy and feels that his life is not going on like everyone else’s.
Memory and concentration problems – this is evident in the apathetic person, who often does not follow a conversation or forgets what was said.
Feeling of fatigue – constant fatigue does not disappear even after a good night’s sleep.
You should not confuse the usual decrease in mood with the concept of apathy, which often lasts from two weeks to several months. In such a situation, it is necessary to take immediate action. It is relatives who are the first to notice such a disorder, because an apathetic person even looks different, becomes irritable, depressed and depressed.
The therapeutic tactics for such patients is selected by a doctor after determining the form of the disorder and the severity of its symptomatic signs. Treatment of apathy with a mild course is carried out without the use of medication. The patient is advised to adjust his lifestyle: properly alternate rest and physical activity, start exercising, take regular walks in the air. In this case, it helps to eliminate apathy to communicate with friends, support from relatives, and travel.
Severe forms of apathy require consultation with a psychoneurologist. The treatment regimen for such a condition includes the course application of pharmacological drugs, numerous sessions of psychotherapy.
Untimely or improper therapy of severe forms of apathy often causes the patient to suffer from severe depression and suicide attempts. Although the prognosis for this disorder is often favorable, because apathy is not badly treatable.
To prevent the development of such a dangerous condition, it is recommended to adhere to the rules of a healthy lifestyle. Preventive measures for apathy include:
Refusal of alcohol and smoking;
Mandatory daily stay in the fresh air;
The right combination of rest and work regimes;
Taking vitamin and mineral complexes.
When you see the first signs of apathy, you should immediately seek help from a specialist. The doctor will establish a diagnosis and choose the best course of therapy for such a disorder. Do not hesitate, because this problem can indicate the presence in the body of serious pathologies that require urgent treatment.