Apathy: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/29/2020

Apathy refers to a lack of interest or concern about a situation or event that would typically elicit emotion. Apathy in certain circumstances can be a personality trait, but unusual or extreme apathy can be a symptom of mental or emotional conditions, including major depression, dementia, and schizophrenia. In its extreme form, apathy may be referred to as a flat affect, in which a person does not show normal emotional responses.

Apathy can be associated with other symptoms including

Apathy can also arise as a result of physical illnesses or medications in some cases.

Other causes of apathy

  • Alcohol or Drug Intoxication
  • Cyclothymic Disorder
  • Delusional Disorder
  • Paraphrenia
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophreniform Disorder


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.