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Apathy is when you do not feel ambitious to do anything, or just really do not care about anything happening around you. It can affect your job; you might not be interested in doing work tasks anymore. It can also mess up your relationships; you will find it difficult in maintaining healthy relationships. You will not be able to enjoy your life.

We all may experience apathy from time to time. Anyone can feel uninterested or unmotivated in performing daily tasks. This kind of situational apathy is kind of normal.

This article is all about “Apathy”. You will be able to know about the apathy meaning, how you can use apathy in a sentence, how it affects your relationships and how it is treated. So, let’s get started:

Apathy meaning

Apathy is derived from the Greek word “apatheia” which actually belongs to the adjective “apathēs”, meaning “without feeling”. Apathy is actually a combination of two words “a” meaning no, and “pathos” meaning “emotions”, collectively apathy meaning is without emotions.

Apathy definition

If you are looking for the apathy definition that can clear your concept here is a simple apathy definition for you:

“Apathy is a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern about something. It is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, or passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical, virtual, or physical life and the world.”

Apathy in a sentence

If you are wondering how you can use the word apathy in a sentence here are some examples for you:

  • Celebrities sometimes have to deal with public apathy.
  • Should we call it ignorance or apathy?
  • Help him fight apathy his lige has become stagnant.
  • There is growing apathy among a few students in middle school which is not good for the house.
  • I was shocked to see her apathy.

Opposite of apathy

If you are wondering what is opposite of apathy let me share some antonyms of apathy with you:

  • compassion, melodrama, empathy, sympathy, understanding, receptiveness, responsiveness, receptivity, sensitivity, tenderness, solicitude, hand-wringing, warmth, histrionics, pity
  • emotion, sensibility, feeling

Some other examples of the opposite of apathy are as follows:

  • attention, sensitivity, awareness, conscientiousness, attentiveness, heedfulness, curiosity, bias, warm-heartedness, partiality, prejudice, keenness, zeal, ardour, fervency, vehemence, desire, passion, warmth,
  • concern, regard, interest

What is apathy a symptom of?

What is apathy a symptom of? Apathy can be a symptom of various psychiatric and neurological disorders. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can also be a syndrome. It can become a serious case if not treated well. If you are wondering what is apathy a symptom of? Here are some disorders of which apathy is a symptom:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Vascular dementia
  • Persistent depressive disorder (for instance dysthymia, a type of chronic mild depression)
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Stroke

According to a study made in 2011, people showing apathy symptoms have frontal lobe lesions in their brains. It is believed that the apathy centre of the brain is located at the front. Stroke affects this part of the brain, so it might be a cause of apathy.

A person may also experience apathy without having a medical condition underlying. Teenagers are prone to experience apathy at times, but it passes with time. However long term apathy condition is not normal in the case of teens too, so it is needed to be treated on time. Let’s look at some other conditions.

Is apathy a symptom of anxiety?

A person may face anxiety issues in various psychiatric disorders, so the question arises here is apathy a symptom of anxiety too? Well, anxiety and apathy may seem like two very different states of being. But anxiety can be a cause of apathy in several ways. Now the question arises “How is apathy a symptom of anxiety?” Let’s have a look at the answer:

Emotional fatigue that is associated with severe anxiety can lead to shut down of emotions, thus to empathy. Secondly, low levels of serotonin-related to anxiety lead to less interests and passion for regular activities in life that is usually seen as apathy. Thirdly distractions and negative thinking linked with anxiety can also lead to a decrease in happiness and passion, so will result in an apathetic view of life. During anxiety, people find it difficult to enjoy activities they usually like, which gives a sense of apathy about their loves and passions. People  who are having anxiety may also show behavioural apathy in the form of not making any effort to treat anxiety or showing no interest in doing so.

Apathy depression

John McManamy, a mental health journalist, argues that psychiatrists, although do not deal with apathy condition explicitly, It is a psychological issue for people suffering from depression. In this condition they might have a feeling that “nothing matters”, the “lack of will to go on and the inability to care about the consequences”, He also describes depressed people as those “…cannot seem to make [themselves] do anything”, who “can’t complete anything”, and who do not “feel any excitement about seeing loved ones”.

Robert Marin, MD, in his article (1991) published in Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences claims that neuropsychiatric illness or brain damage, for instance, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, or Parkinson’s disease, stroke can be responsible for apathy. According to him, apathy is a syndrome linked with various brain disorders. Apathy depression is also one of them.

According to a study in 2005, it is suggested that there is a clear relationship between apathy and depression in some populations. Although several patients suffering from depression may have apathy symptoms, still depression can occur independent of apathy, and the same is the case with apathy.

Apathy depression can be a symptom of negative disorder in the case of Schizophrenia or a symptom of some somatic and neurological disorders.

What is apathetic behaviour?

What is apathetic behaviour? How will you recognize it? Well, it is simple you do not have to do much in order to identify apathetic behaviour you will see a lack of effort and interest. You may identify signs of apathy in yourself. A family member or a friend may also be able to point out the apathetic change in your behaviour. But sometimes it is difficult to point out the main issue; in that case, it would be better to take help from a professional.

So what is apathetic behaviour? Let’s look at some characteristics of apathetic behaviour:

Lack of or decrease in motivation

A person suffering from apathy will have no motivation irrespective of age, health status or culture. He will have no energy to do daily chores.

Difficulty in conversation

A person who is suffering from apathy may also find it difficult to be engaged in a conversation. The other person may have to repeat what they are saying, and the apathetic person has no interest in discussing any important matter.

Not a social person anymore

The individual may be a very social person initially who loves to party and spending time with friends but not anymore. The individual will try to make excuses, so they not have to attend any kind of social gathering. The individual will not take an interest in public events or workplace activity.

The individual does not feel excited anymore.

The individual was a person who loved to plan adventurous activities and was excited about doing new things, but this is not the case anymore. The individual does not feel excited anymore.

Quality of life is affected.

Apathetic behaviour negatively affects the quality of personal and professional life. A person will not be able to maintain a healthy relationship; he/she might not show any interest in a couple activities or even in their partner. The individual will not be able to perform work tasks well; you will see the individual has a deadline tomorrow, but is not doing anything to complete this work. The process of execution and implementation becomes very difficult for the individual.

These symptoms must last for at least four weeks to be diagnosed as apathy. Otherwise, it was just a situational apathy that vanishes after a short time period.

Is being apathetic bad?

Is being apathetic bad? Being apathetic may feel like a temporary state of carelessness; we all have been there at some point in our life looking for some motivation. It is not bad if it is situational as mentioned above, but it can be harmful. The unresponsiveness, passivity, detachment and indifference can make an apathetic person feel exhausted. It will also lead to making bad choices and decisions because they do not really care about what they are doing.

So is being apathetic bad? Well, it is normal but can be really harmful, so needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Apathy in a relationship

Relationships usually go through phases of apathy when both partners are settled in a comfortable routine. This commonly happens in long term relationships. It is really frustrating when one partner is really engaged in the relationship and very excited about it, but the other partner is just apathetic, you keep wondering how this relationship will take a turn for the worst. If partners do not make a conscious effort to bring energy and passion back into the relationship, apathy can eat it up, leading to bitterness and resentment in the relationship. Taking an effective action can help in eliminating apathy in a relationship.

But how can someone deal with apathy in a relationship? Let me share some simple tips with you:

Get ready to take risk.

You may notice apathy first in your relationship, but there is no need to be afraid of it. You think that everything in your relationship is changing and it feels terrible, but you need to figure out a way out of it. You may be afraid to talk about it with your partner, like how will my partner take this how should I say it, and how will my partner respond. My partner might show no interest in talking about it, but you need to take the risk and go first. Tell your partner that, “I know you have been a bit distant in the past few days, but I love you and I believe things will improve, but I need your help”.

Work on your communication

Communication is key to any relationship. So talk to your partner about how you really feel about apathy in the relationship. Ignoring apathy will not bring any good to the relationship. In the book “Married But Not Engaged: Why Men Check Out and What You Can Do to Create the Intimacy You Desire,” co-author, Paul Cougling says that keep the conversation running to at least five to 10 minutes. Try to explain to your loved one that your relationship is hurting badly because of apathy. Talk about some of your own weaknesses that you think might have contributed to this situation; this will also help your partner in expressing his/her thoughts.

Let your partner think about it.

You have said what you thought about the whole situation, how you feel about it, your partner might not be ready to talk about it. There is no need to rush things. Let the conversation sink in and give your partner some time to think about what you said. If you push your partner too hard, it may make your partner pull away from you and this relationship even more. Giving your partner some space and freedom will allow thinking about the whole scenario. And according to Coughlin, freedom also proves helpful in triggering intimacy.

Be confident

Facing apathy in a relationship can be frustrating for you, I can understand, but if you really care about your partner and this relationship, you will have to fight for it. It will be only possible if you really think that this relationship can work; you need to have faith in yourself and your relationship. It will bring positivity, and thus you will feel ambitions to save your relationship. Establish a sense of independence in a relationship. You might have tried some old strategies to deal with apathy, but now you have to change your attitude. This might make your partner realize what they are taking for granted in this relationship.

Spend time together

In a long term relationship, sometimes everything seems like a routine, it happens, and it is normal. You are too comfortable with your partner. But the thing is you need to bring the spark back in your relationship. It is only possible if you to spend some quality and fun time together. Watch funny or romantic movies together unless you two like action movies lol!. Try to do activities that you two like and enjoy. Keep reminding each other why you both fell in love in the first place. You can successfully conquer apathy in a relationship with time and effort.

Reach out for help

Relationships are personal if you are having some problem with your partner; you need to talk to them first. But if you feel like you are on a dead-end, and can’t deal with it anymore, it would be better to take help from friends. The best option is to seek help from a professional; they can assess the whole situation and suggest the best solution.

Apathy test

It is not easy to figure out the real issue on your own. There is no surety so the apathy test can prove helpful in this regard. There are plenty of apathy tests available online asking you certain questions, but these tests only give a brief idea. Only a professional can decide it for you. Your doctor will ask about your behaviours, emotions and how you are performing in different areas of life.They may ask you questions regarding:

  • If you are facing a lack of motivation
  • Any change in your mood, behaviour or thoughts
  • How this whole change is affecting your life

In some cases, your health care professional may also perform some lab tests or physical exam to rule out any medical condition that might be responsible for this behaviour.

The GP may then refer to a reliable mental health professional who will be able to diagnose any underlying mental health issue that is responsible for the symptoms. It is not a formal syndrome being recognized and mentioned in DSM-5, but some experts claim that it can be associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders.

Apathy treatment

Treatment of apathy mainly depends on its causes. People may somehow manage their general emotions of apathy via self-care and life changes, but the underlying mental health issue needs to be addressed at the right time, or it can cause severe issues. Apathy treatment, in most cases, may involve psychotherapy, medication or a combination.


Your doctor may recommend some useful therapies to deal with apathy, especially when it is related to a condition like anxiety or depression. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective approaches used for apathy treatment and in dealing with some other mental health disorders. Using this approach, can address underlying thoughts and certain behaviour patterns are identified that may contribute to poor motivation and indifference.


At the early stages of any kind of mental health, issue medication is not recommended, therapies are used. But in some cases, it becomes necessary to give some medications in addition to therapies. It is because mental illness does not only affect our minds but also our physical health. When apathy becomes really bad and starts affecting physical health, doctors may recommend some medication. But that does not mean you can take medication on your own as some of these have side effects too.

Keep in mind that there are no approved medications for apathy by the FDA. Here are some medications that your doctor may prescribe in case of apathy.

  • Antidementia agents: these treat Alzheimer disease for instance galantamine (Razadyne), rivastigmine (Exelon), and donepezil (Aricept)
  • Antidepressants: for instance sertraline (Zoloft), bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), and paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Cerebral circulation and metabolism stimulants: it helps in treating symptoms of stroke, for instance, nicergoline (Sermoin)
  • Dopamine stimulants: it is effective in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease for instanceropinirole (Requip)
  • Antipsychotic agents: these are effective in the treatment of Schizophrenia
  • Psychostimulants: these are used to treat apathy with unknown underlying mental health issues like amphetamine, pemoline (Cylert) and methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Coping with apathy

There are some self-help steps that you can take to deal with apathy on your own. Psychotherapies and medications are effective only when a person is making an effort practically and not totally dependent on the treatment. Here are some suggestions for you to cope up with apathy:

  • Taking on too much and then not being able to complete the task may make you feel unmotivated even more. So try to set small goals, accomplish a task that is easily manageable.
  • If you have to do a large project, divide it into small parts and at one-time tackle one small part. This way, you can successfully achieve a big project.
  • Look for certain situations that act as a trigger in making you feel apathetic. Try to remove obstacles that make you feel unmotivated and look out for inspirations.
  • Change is always good. Sometimes you are just bored of old routines so try to make changes in your daily routine.


Apathy is when you are unable to feel anything, good or bad. You are just stuck in one place and don’t even try to change your situation. This way, you will not be able to make progress in your life, neither professional nor personal. So you need to figure out a way to deal with it, professional help will work best for you. This was all about apathy. I have tried my best to provide you with useful information about apathy, hope so you will find it helpful. Call 03333443853 for a free consultation with a M.D.D team member today. We have qualified life coaches available and therapists.

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