Apathy: demotivation and frustration that trap

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Louise Hay


Apathy: demotivation and frustration that trap

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

They say that apathy is like a curse, that when it traps you it never leaves you and, then, it takes over life, turns off the will and even the feelings. It is a state of mind in which demotivation collapses the mind, ambitions disappear and even the body suffers. There is a lack of energy and will, we are prisoners of an absolute physical and mental sedation.

Most of us have experienced this feeling several times. However, is it really a state of mind? Or is it a feeling? Or maybe it's an attitude towards life? It must be emphasized that apathy is a dimension made up, in reality, of various areas, because its impact, and we have understood this on our skin, affects almost all parts of ourselves. It is demotivation, it is tiredness, it is a disillusionment, it is sadness ...

This kaleidoscope of psychic, emotional and physical processes is often experienced as one of the most unpleasant situations in life. It is like someone who puts his life "on hold" and remains suspended in a strange condition in which initiative and hope are lacking. No one should be trapped in this situation any longer than necessary, for this reason, knowing the causes and how to manage apathy can be of great help.

What is apathy?

Apathy literally means "lack of feeling". It may seem strange to us, however, just remembering the last time apathy enveloped us from head to toe to understand that we ourselves are also surprised by our mind's style of reasoning. "Nothing attracts my interest, everything seems the same to me, no matter what happens ...".

This heavy lethargy is a condition that has a great cognitive impact. It distorts our focus, we are unable to concentrate and store data and information. Nevertheless, the area where apathy weighs the most is that of affectivity and emotionality. So much so that often, there are those who wonder if what they are experiencing is perhaps depression.

Regarding this doubt, two aspects need to be clarified. While it is true that depression sometimes intersects with apathy, this is not always the case. Not in all cases. A depressive episode may not predict apathy and vice versa. That is to say, apathy by itself is not a direct indicator of depression.

Whenever we perceive the presence of this uncomfortable company, therefore, it is necessary to ask her to leave as soon as possible. To achieve this, it would be necessary to know its origin, the reason why it sometimes appears in our lives. 

What is the cause of apathy?

There is no single cause of apathy. Its appearance may be due to multiple factors that without a shadow of a doubt we must consider. Are the following.

Organic cause

  • Anemia.
  • Certain infections.
  • Weak immune system and low defenses.
  • States of deficiency due to deficient nutrition. 
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Possible beginning of a dementia. It should be borne in mind that apathy is one of the most common neuropsychiatric symptoms in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Brain injuries due to traumatic accidents.
  • Problems in the functioning of the limbic system or the connection of the frontal cortex with the basal ganglia.
  • Drug use.

Psychological issues, psychological problems

  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Major depression.
  • Dysthymia.
  • Periods of intense anxiety.

Environmental problems 

Sometimes we are subjected to certain contexts in which we do not find any positive stimulus. Around us there are only stressful stimuli or stimuli that do not bring any kind of interest. Living in contexts with insipid and empty narrative leads us to think negatively and to a state of marked dullness.

How to deal with apathy?

After verifying that we do not suffer from any organic problems, it is time to put into practice some exercises, strategies and approaches to free our body and mind from apathy. In this regard, there is a fact that we cannot overlook: no advice will be useful to us if we fail to change our way of thinking first of all. 

Now the trigger of this state of lethargy and demotivation takes a back seat, we must understand that what keeps us trapped is our approach, our perspective. Therefore, it will be more useful to "fix" first of all what exists in our mind and then what is outside it and that, in general, we are unable to control.

  • Psychological therapy focused on cognitive restructuring can help us.
  • Changing our routine, starting new businesses, changing contexts, meeting new people and finding different interests is a good strategy.
  • Physical activity, a balanced diet, contact with nature or practicing disciplines such as yoga or mindfulness are undoubtedly very accurate answers.

In conclusion, one way to defeat apathy from our mind and heart is to engage with our life in a more concrete way. Thus, the exercises based on self-knowledge and the achievement of more encouraging goals and new goals will be like windows on our horizon, the ones we should look out at from time to time to let go of the cold wind of apathy and lethargy.

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