Managing the Apathy Epidemic & It’s Impact Mental Health and Engagement

Apathy is an emotional state that feels like a void that creates the feeling of losing interest in everything to give a new meaning to life. However, not only does it affect various aspects of an individual’s life but also affects even small daily functioning of self-care.

While the exact cause of apathy is unknown, it occurs as a symptom of neurological or psychiatric conditions in response to trauma, stress, or a natural phase during adolescence. There is no distinct clinical diagnosis, but certain questions/assessments help to exclude other potential causes.

Treatment focuses on treating the underlying cause of apathy with medications, therapy, or a combination of both. Lifestyle changes are also used in managing mild to short-term changes of apathy.

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Diagnosis

There’s no official clinical method to diagnose apathy, however, experts diagnose apathy by asking questions about things that show the individual emotional and mental state.

These questions are based on your feelings of apathy that affect your everyday life and relationships. The questions may include:

  • Any changes in mood, motivation, and energy.
  • What you feel about your relationships with others.
  • Changes you noticed recently in your relationships.
  • Changes in emotional and mental health.
  • Changes in your life circumstances and how you deal with them.
  • Current significant life events.

These factors may contribute to apathy. Besides, doctors also check the medical history to know if the individual has had any mental health condition in the past or is taking treatment for any mental condition.

In the case of neurodegenerative conditions, doctors use 4 criteria to measure apathy:

  • Lack of motivation: You feel a lack of motivation for no reason.
  • Behavioral, thinking, and emotional changes: You lose interest in connecting with others and spending time with them or performing daily tasks.
  • The impact on quality of life: Changes in energy, emotions, and behavior start affecting your life, work, relationships, and overall wellness negatively.
  • Other conditions that may not cause these changes: Apathy is not always related to another mental and physical health concern or substance use.

If you’ve had these symptoms for 4 weeks or longer, then you should consult a healthcare professional who may recommend these tests to help rule out neurodegenerative conditions:

  • Blood tests
  • Mental status exams
  • Genetic tests
  • Neurologic exams
  • Brain imaging
  • Neuropsychiatric testing.

Treatment

Apathy treatment depends on the underlying cause. Some people manage their apathy through lifestyle changes and self-care, but if your symptoms are caused by underlying medical or psychiatric conditions, then treatment is provided by a mental health professional. For many mental health conditions, the treatment involves medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

Medications may depend on the cause of persistent apathy. It may include:

  • To help with dementia, doctors may prescribe medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors like donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine.
  • For depression and anxiety, antidepressants such as paroxetine, sertraline, and bupropion.
  • To treat symptoms of stroke, cerebral circulation, and metabolism stimulants may be prescribed.
  • For Parkinson’s disease, doctors may prescribe dopamine stimulants such as ropinirole.
  • For schizophrenia, doctors may prescribe antipsychotic medications.
  • In case, the apathy has no known cause, doctors may prescribe stimulants like methylphenidate, pemoline, and amphetamine.

If your apathy is related to a mental health condition or present or past challenges in your life, psychotherapy offers a safe space to share what you’re experiencing and explore strategies to help you overcome those difficulties.

A therapist can help you find the reason for apathy such as a major loss, disappointment, or personal setback. It helps you recover from your trauma by teaching ways to cope with distress to make changes in your thinking patterns and behavior that help you reboot your interest in life.

There is no direct treatment for conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. However, a trained therapist can help you cope with your symptoms and manage the changes that come with progressive conditions.

If you are experiencing apathy symptoms and cannot handle them on your own, then visit our mental health clinic in Brooklyn to get professional help and guidance on how you can manage its symptoms. For further inquiries, call us on +1-347-384-5690 to get a consultation. We have some of the finest experienced psychiatrist doctors who listen to your concerns, examine your symptoms, and create a treatment plan to improve your condition as soon as possible. If you need help learning coping methods, register your information and make direct contact with our doctors and psychiatrists to learn those methods, log on to www.doralw.org. Visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11212.