Should Apathy Be Considered a Mental Illness

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As humans, we think, we feel, we behave. Most of the time our behaviors, thoughts and feelings help us function in our everyday life. What if our feelings suddenly fade away? How are we supposed to live in our daily basis? Is it normal to feel indifference? Is there something we can do to treat apathy? The point of this essay is to know the normal level of apathy and to know when it becomes beyond normal. Apathy is a state of feeling of not having a feeling or being indifferent about everything around you.A person with apathy has an absence of passion or interest in life and they show little interest in social interaction. A person who does not share laughter in a classroom where everybody is laughing at a joke of a teacher is a good example of being apathetic person. There is a misconception about apathy that it involves sadness, wherein fact apathy is not sadness nor depression, they just don’t feel anything towards the situation that’s why they don’t show a little bit of attention or emotion.

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According to Seltzer(2016) that apathy is also an attitude of being unconcern, unresponsiveness and dispassion. These people don’t care that they don’t care. Apathy can be a symptom of another condition or mental illness. It must be noted that everyone may be a little disinterested in things or in people around them but long term apathy is not normal. It becomes abnormal when it starts to affect someone’s quality of life. It’s important to note that abnormality comes when a condition affects their daily routine.It can appear in many disorders such as schizophrenia, Dysthymia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and even in stroke. One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is avolition which is under the category of negative symptoms. It is called negative symptoms because it involve the loss of certain quality of the person. Avolition is the term used to describe the severe lack of initiative. it is an ability to initiate and persist in common activities in particular in everyday life such as in school, work and even at home. A person with schizophrenia lacks the desire to interact with other people they are usually withdrawn and isolated. Hoeksema (2014)

Avolition in schizophrenia is so severe that prevent the person from keeping a job, managing their homework or taking care of their personal appearance, sometimes this kind of acts is misconceive as procrastination wherein people seeks distraction from preventing a task.(Purse 2018)another symptoms of schizophrenia that is associated in apathy is called anhedonia which a loss of enjoyment in all activity that you once liked. It is also present in symptoms of depressive disorder formerly called dysthymic disorder in DSM-IV. These symptoms are severe that it interferes with the person’s ability to function in everyday life. The only difference between of the person with depression and the person who is just apathetic is that a person with depression feels sorrow or sadness and feels hopeless, while a person who is apathetic feels nothing. Alzheimer’s Society maintain that people with dementia can have apathy.It is more common to people who have dementia rather than those people who do not have dementia but it is morecommon in Frontotemporaldemensia. It can start at early stage but will develop on later part of their life.

According to Ramos,G.,Villanueva C., Del Val,J., Guiu, J.(2010) apathy is common in Parkinson’s disease with the percentage of 16-48%. Although the main symptoms of Parkinson’s diseases are tremor, slow movement and muscle stiffness. Physical and mental/cognitive symptoms can also cause the disease. In fact the cognitive symptoms are depression, anxiety and dementia which have a symptom of having apathy. Apathy can also be associated to anxiety that thinking of having negative thoughts about you such as doubting yourself, thinking that you’re inferior, incompetent and having a lot of fear might lead to apathy because of not having the desire to even try. However Radwan (2006) claimed that a person who experiences apathy are those people who have big plans or have big goal ahead of their future. A person loses hope in getting what they planned are those people who might experience depression, which stated here that one of the symptom of depression is adhedonia. How to deal with apathy? Dulhun (2016) listed a treatment that can be used in dealing with apathy it focuses on behavioral adjustments. These are the following: first, maintain a good and comfortable sleep, maintain the regular hours of sleep and wake schedule. Second, create schedule that include physical, social and cognitive activities, list what will you do each day, set a small goal with objective that you think you can achieve. Find another plan that you trust, learn new activity. As you reach these it will increase your motivation to do bigger goals. Lastly, exercise because physical activity will be the last thing you will do if you are unmotivated and tired. It may sound counterintuitive, but it really helps apathetic person. Try to do something active every day.

In my conclusion apathy is not a mental illness it is just a symptoms of many neurological disorders. Apathy is normal for humans to experience because it is one of our ways of coping with stress and moving on in life because you cannot move forward when you are still attached with something or someone. It is somehow our way to shake off all the embarrassment or the tragedy we faced before. In present times, some people tend to be more apathetic because they are now cold hearted and numb because of many heartbreaks they’ve been through. It is only become abnormal if the quality of our everyday life is affected by our apathetic attitude.

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