Some people say that indifference is worse than hate or anger. We spend a lot of time and effort to fight negative emotions, like grudge, irritation, anger, but when we encounter apathy, the total lack of emotion, we may get stuck.
If you have experienced this sense of total indifference towards the world around you and the state of absolute inability to make yourself do anything, you know exactly what apathy is. Or at least, you can imagine it.
Let’s see how apathy is expressed and how we can handle it.
Apathy has been attracting more and more attention from psychiatry since the 90ies as a separate clinical disorder.
Apathy  is a state of reduced emotional, physical and willful activity. It is described by indifference, emotion simplification, loss of interest towards usual activities, anhedonia (reduced ability or inability to receive pleasure). It can also be accompanied by physical fatigue, drain, negative mindset: “I’m tired, I don’t want to do anything”, “Life is boring”, “I live with the flow”. This state can be short-term and long-term.
The word “apathy” comes from ancient Greek and is related to word “pathos” (passion). Prefix “a-” is negative, so the word, translated directly, means “lack of passion”. Indifference, detachment and ataraxy are the synonyms and close friends of apathy. 
However, this term is often used to describe the state of patients which is quite different from the definition above.
A combination of complete indifference and total loss of interest towards life is typical only for extreme cases.
It can happen that a person does not display any difference in their lifestyle and activities, but feel that all their actions have become meaningless and perform them out of sense of duty. 
“I know apathy well. I had it in winter and at the end of spring. I lost interest to everything, I couldn’t even do anything. I was extremely bored, so I just lied on my sofa and watched TV to kill the time.”
– Elena, occasionally suffers from apathy
Scientists have suggested a special method for diagnosing this state: Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES).
If you agree with at leas 5 of the following statements, you are likely to have apathy.
If you found any signs of apathy, it is worth to think about solving this problem.
In order to confirm or dismiss your suspicions, let’s take a closer look at the signs of apathy.
In 2009, a group of French scientists started to work on developing criteria for diagnosing apathy. Nowadays, there are multiple interpretations and descriptions of this mental state, but some signs are common for all of them. As the result, those scientists have established three main criteria: 
Other than these, apathy also has the following signs:
Other signs that facilitate the diagnosis of apathy are general mental block, robotic movements and lack of facial expressions.
Feelings and emotions are an essential part of our activities. However, constant and extreme emotions can lead to exhaustion. A person cannot experience emotions “all the time”. Decline in emotional activity leads to indifference, but this is not yet apathy.
Apathy appears when we experienced too strong and too bright emotion for too long. This results in a state of emptiness that can last between several days and several weeks.
1. Apathy can often be a result of physical exertion. When a person has to deal with a stressful situation for a prolonged period of time, it damages them, and in this case apathy becomes a protective means, a kind of a safety bag. Thanks to this, an exhausted person can save some energy, without wasting it in emotional experiences during stress, resulting in burnout.
2. State of feebleness can also come from learned helplessness, when a person feels that any attempt to change a traumatic situation are meaningless. In that case, a person simply gives up and goes with the flow. Meanwhile, apathy, like any other learned behavior pattern, can be defeated.
3. Apathy can be a consequence of emotional burnout, common for workaholics. Overtime work leads to fatigue, which people tend to ignore. It results in weakness, drowsiness, apathy and fatigue.
Apathy can also be a sign of mental, physical and neurological disorders, as well as a side effect of certain psychotropic medication. There are also people with a disposition towards this state due to their personal traits and personality features, but such people are mostly an exception.
Apathy can develop during adolescence as the result of hormonal changes, troubles in school activities and interacting with peers. Before you blame a teenager or any other person for inactivity, make sure that there are no solid causes for this behavior.
R. Levy and B. Dubois studied the mechanisms of apathy development and distinguished three pathogenetic processes that can start it:
Which states act as precursors of apathy? Before developing apathy, a person usually passes the following stages:
Apathy, if it remains untreated for too long, can become even stronger. A person can go from decrease in activity and bad mood to absolute indifference.
Mild apathy can manifest itself in form of general laziness and bad mood.
Medium apathy is characterized by bad mood, sense of fatigue, inability to brace oneself. A person feels that they can never rest properly, and any activities that were easy before become extremely hard. Such ideas are common for this state: “I have no energy”, “I won’t even make it”.
Severe cases of apathy can be accompanied by memory loss, depersonalization (“I feel like nothing is real”) and depressed outlook, withdrawal from making any plans, and even loss of meaning in life: “No reason to do anything, tomorrow will be just the same”.
Many people mistakenly think that apathy is the same as depression.  Depression is a prolonged mental disorder which can indeed be accompanied by apathy.
Apathy can severely lower the quality of life. A person doesn’t “live”, they “exist”, they don’t get pleasure, don’t develop and achieve their goals.
All these things affect social interactions: person loses all the motivation to communicate with others, while people around them do not generally enjoy interacting with an apathetic and indifferent person. A person with apathy loses any ability to empathize, they can become rude and uninterested in their partner in communication.
A substantial decline of working efficiency can lead to a block, when a person requires more time to perform usual actions and makes more mistakes. This leads to more trouble at work and increased disappointment with oneself.
As the result, a person has problems in relationships, at work, they are disappointed with themselves, and the vicious circle never ends.
In order to treat apathy properly it is important to figure out its cause. A person can find it hard to do this on their own, so it is a good idea to consult a specialist.
Different approaches of applied psychology offer different ways to get rid of this unpleasant state.
Sometimes even a proper rest can help. However, if apathy is caused by chronic exertion at work and life, constant overload, then you need to change your lifestyle. Even though we might have great ambitions, our resources are not limitless. As the result, we have to pay for our ambitions by decreased efficiency and poor health.
7Spsy behavior modification technique can be very effective in treating learned behavior patterns. Our method is based on the traditional behavior psychology founded by I. P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner etc.
The course lasts 2-6 weeks. During this time you will change your old behavior pattern to a healthy one, find in yourself the energy to move on and achieve your goals. You can take this course at home whenever you wish, you don’t have to spend the time on commuting and adjust your own schedule.
However, if your apathy is a sign of another mental or physical disorder, we strongly recommend you to consult a medical specialist in-person. Only such a specialist will be able to treat your apathy.