Apathy Latest Facts: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Apathy refers to a loss of motivation, desire, and emotions. Apathetic behavior can be the result of emotional trauma, a mental disorder, or brain damage.

What is apathy?



Apathy is a general state of indifference that results in a partial or complete lack of response to certain habitual stimuli. Apathetic behavior is manifested by:

  • The absence of emotions, feelings, and desires
  • A lack of motivation and initiative
  • Loss of interest in others.

What causes apathy?

Apathy can result from:

  • Trauma
  • Certain mental disorders
  • Neurological or brain damage
  • Metabolic disorders.

Causes with a traumatic origin

The occurrence of apathetic behavior may be caused by emotional shock, emotional trauma, or a state of high stress.

Psychological causes

Apathy may also be due to certain psychological disorders, such as:

  • Depression, which manifests as almost permanent sadness and loss of interest and pleasure, among other symptoms
  • Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive psychosis, manifests itself through abnormal mood swings
  • Schizophrenia, which is a psychiatric disorder with symptoms such as delirium and hallucinations
  • Certain addictive disorders resulting from dependence on alcohol, drugs, etc.

Metabolic causes

Hypothyroidism, which is the result of insufficient production of thyroid hormones.

Neurological causes

Apathy may also be the result of brain damage caused by certain neurodegenerative diseases or other conditions that affect the neurons. Apathetic behavior may be diagnosed especially with the following conditions:

  • Dementia, a syndrome that affects memory, reasoning, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday tasks.
  • Alzheimer’s disease, the main cause of dementia, characterized by a progressive loss of neurons, resulting in a change in cognitive abilities.
  • Parkinson’s disease, due to the destruction of dopaminergic neurons, which are present in the gray matter of the brain and are involved in controlling movement.
  • Huntington’s disease, an inherited disorder that results in the degeneration of neurons involved in motor, cognitive and behavioral functions.
  • Stroke also called a cerebrovascular accident, is caused by the blockage or rupture of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain.
  • Post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which follows concussions.

What are the consequences of apathy?

Apathy has a negative impact on emotional response, motivation, initiative, and passion. This state of indifference also affects social relationships and leads to a loss of interest. Apathetic behavior is usually accompanied by a generalized form of fatigue.

In the most severe cases, an apathetic person does not feel affected by his or her behavior. He or she accepts it and does not notice any disturbance. The role of family and friends is essential in diagnosing and treating apathy.

What are the solutions for treating apathy?

If you have questions about apathy, it is advisable to contact a medical professional. A general practitioner can make an initial diagnosis. This can be supplemented by medical examinations and consultation with a specialist.

Treatment of apathy is often complex. It depends primarily on where the apathetic behavior is coming from. Medical care may include:

  • Drug treatment, especially for depressive disorders with the prescription of antidepressants.
  • Consultations with a psychologist.

To combat apathy, patients are also advised to maintain or restore a social bond by reconnecting with family and friends and participating in group meetings and various activities.


The anatomy of apathy: A neurocognitive framework for amotivated behaviour

Apathy: a practical guide for neurologists

Apathy Is Not Depression



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