Flat Affect: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

A flat affect is the loss or lack of emotional responses to a situation or event that would typically elicit emotion. People with flat affect may appear to be completely unemotional or apathetic. Other associated symptoms include speaking in a monotone voice and a reduction in facial expressions. A flat affect is sometimes referred to as a blunted affect, although a blunted affect often refers to a reduction in emotions that is not as severe as that seen with flat affect. Flat affect can occur in association with schizophrenia or in some types of depression.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2017

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