Apathy in Depression Is Challenging, Not Permanent

March 8, 2017 Tiffanie Verbeke

Apathy in depression is the feeling of indifference towards yourself, your life, and those around you (What are the Symptoms of Depression?). Apathy in depression is uncomfortable and disappointing because it makes what you once cared about seem unimportant. My love of being active and working hard has been replaced with a black hole that sucks up my emotions and desires, making me a mess of I-don’t-cares and shoulder shrugs. I fear my apathy in depression and I resent the challenges that indifference creates.

Apathy in Depression Changes What You Know of Yourself

My depressive apathy is taking what I know of myself and chucking it out the nearest window. I used to work hard to go above and beyond expectations, holding myself to high standards and giving excuses only when necessary. My extreme apathy has destroyed my work ethic, though, and I can’t even get myself to care about pressing deadlines.

The apathy in depression makes you feel indifferent towards everything that once mattered to you. But the apathy of depression is not permanent. Read this.I also used to find great joy in humanity and the fact that we humans are living, breathing bags of water that can have conversations about the fact that we are living, breathing bags of water. But my apathy has proven capable of raining on my parade, making that joy appear pointless and absurd. It has effectively drained me of my will to live and my typical programming to always find a will and a way has been overwritten. Before my indifference became a problem, I was a hardworking, scrappy depression fighter with a love of lists and a knack for giggling at cat videos. Now I don’t even look at cat videos.

Apathy in Depression Makes It Challenging to Cope

Apathy in depression is challenging in that it can interrupt your coping with depression strategy. I struggle to eat because I don’t care that I’m hungry; I put off brushing my teeth because I don’t care about keeping my cavity-free record; I don’t write because I don’t care about writing. There are some days that I feel like I don’t care about my depression at all and I wonder if I can somehow slip away from my indifference by asserting that I’m indifferent.

No matter how complicated and apathetic this experience with apathy in my depression, I take comfort in my frustration. My frustration is a sign that some small piece of me still cares enough to take up arms against the dreaded apathy of depression. A tiny bit of my mind wants to fight forced nonchalance in my head and that’s a nice reminder of the person I’m fighting to recover.

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APA Reference
Verbeke, T. (2017, March 8). Apathy in Depression Is Challenging, Not Permanent, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Tiffanie Verbeke

Tiffanie Verbeke is a writer who delights in thinking and despises typing. She gets fired up about mental health and societal inequalities and she finds joy in driving under shadowy trees, running when it's raining, and kids' brutal honesty. Tiffanie welcomes feedback, so contact her freely. Connect with Tiffanie on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and her personal blog.

January, 20 2021 at 12:40 am

So it's 1/20/21. Tonight, I googled "depression and apathy" and found this link. It helps to know I'm not alone. My depression is largely based on health. I have three different chronic illnesses and they are taking a toll on my 56 year old body. I was in a very dark place about 18 months ago and was prescribed Effexor. It worked perfectly as I still have the same issues and challenges, but I find myself coping with them. However, the apathy is very strong right now. No will to do anything. And with the Coronavirus in full tilt, social isolation has become mandatory. I have a dog and she's a great companion. But the apathy is keeping me down. I always had something going on, but for now, it's all going through the motions. My biggest hope is that this is indeed temporary and I just need to ride it out. But it feels like such a waste of time. Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong. And soon.

January, 22 2021 at 6:59 am

Bryan, I feel your pain because I often experience apathy due to depression and PTSD. I am sorry to know you are struggling right now, but as you rightly hope, this is temporary. So please ride it out and take good care of yourself. I hope you feel better soon. In the meanwhile, check out this video if you need some tips:

December, 27 2019 at 2:28 pm

Thanks for your blog Tiffanie. Just discovered it in December 2019 and finding it wonderfully well written and insightful. I have a Bipolar II mood disorder, diagnosed in 1996. I'm now 71 and still "fighting the good fight"! I would like to establish a workable routine, but I relate to the boredom issue. Or perhaps I'm just a master procrastinator. Much of what I experience is cyclical, as Bipolar does that, so by now I know that if I have a stinking low, it will eventually turn around. I have only mild/hypo mania, if any, and try to use it to get some housework done! The article on apathy is spot on. When I was a young person I lost myself reading books or playing the piano, and was able to tune out everything else. Now I have many days when nothing interests me... and yet I still have to get dinner! Just to let folks know, daily bathing isn't necessary, and dries out your skin. There are products you can get for cleaning the "essentials", like a spray I found online called "No Rinse Peri-Wash". I use it in between showers. Wishing you all a healthy, reasonably tolerable 2020! 💙

January, 2 2020 at 3:26 pm

Hi Esmee,
Thank you for your comment on positive coping mechanisms that have worked for you on this journey. Keep "fighting the good fight," as you have stated, in 2020!
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Blog Moderator

January, 3 2020 at 10:44 am

Hello, Esmee, thank you so much for your comments and insights. I'm Jennifer, the current co-author of the Coping With Depression blog. I appreciate the tips you gave about daily hygiene. I struggle with this area on my particularly hard days with depression. I enjoy reading, too, and am attempting a book challenge this year to try to spark my interest as well as keep me motivated and accountable. We shall see. I can also relate to the dinner issue. If I'm having a good day, I like to cook and try new recipes; however, on bad days, I consider a frozen pizza successful. We just do the best we can do. Thank you, once again, Esmee, for sharing your thoughts. I hope you have a nice 2020!

October, 30 2019 at 9:11 am

I have lived like this for the past very long four years of my life. Seeing that there is so many of us struggling with depression does not give me hope but rather has me questioning if the 'normalcy', the enthusiasm I desire is even attainable. Started when I was in the second year of Uni, the 'I can't play sports because academics are demanding' gradually became 'I just want to sleep because nothing else is as fulfilling'- consciousness was a burden. I am in the first few months of my first job and life is still a burden. Getting out of bed to do anything requires painful effort. I've lost count of the number of days I've shown up to work without taking a bath. Lost count of the number of deadlines I've missed, the subpar last minute crap I've compiled for submission in my attempt to not miss deadlines. I've been screwing up so badly at work, not that there's anything positive to disclose about other aspects of my life. In all this, I think I do care, I think it does bother me that I am this nonchalant about everything, I just can't get myself do anything about it. It feels like self sabotage but even more painful because I do not know ho to stop

October, 30 2019 at 4:37 pm

Hello, Kamo. I'm Jennifer, one of the current co-authors of the Coping With Depression blog. I'm sorry that you're going through this, but I'm glad that you reached out here. I understand the apathy and the painful effort to do pretty much anything aspects of depression. I experience these from time to time, too. I have learned to manage things better, though, through therapy. Have you considered seeing a healthcare professional? That's my first suggestion. Keep going. Things do get better.

May, 30 2018 at 2:55 am

I’ve felt sad underneath for 40 years after the sudden death of my grandmother. I’ve never got over not being with her when she died and to be able to tell her I loved her. Now, with 2 adult independent children who hardly need me, I find I need her more than ever. I am crying inside all the time but try not to show it as I have nobody to turn to. I keep busy but don’t really care about my house or even going on holiday. I’d just like to feel positive but I can’t. My friends have noticed it. I have a good husband but his disposition is so different to mine that I don’t confide in him much but he realises there’s something wrong.

April, 14 2018 at 3:21 pm

Thank you for this. I don't understand why but I just broke down when I read this because it put words to so much of what I feel. I want to care and finish college and get a good job, but day by day sometimes I don't even care enough to get out of bed. Now that I know I'm not alone in this I feel I have the confidence to talk to my parents and get help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 20 2018 at 5:15 pm

If there's a way you got around it please let me know... Am giving up on medication

April, 9 2018 at 3:05 pm

Elizabeth, I just came across this as I was questioning whether I am depressed or bored. It’s such an eye opener to realize that there is actually a name for how much feel most of the time. If I can name it I can fight it! Now I know what to do and hopefully can adjust st my attitude and get some fun back in my life.

Elizabeth D. Smythe Psy.D.
January, 30 2018 at 8:52 am

I am a former therapist. I have no answers to this dilemma. I applaud the folks here who are only delayed in what they have to do, but manage to push through somehow. I'm amazed by former clients who did housework, took showers, went shopping, worked, visited their relatives and had friends. I barely maintain with my husband and that's because he puts up with me. Here in the South, the care is so poor that I get my meds refilled by a nurse practitioner who I see every 6 months. I did do better in Vermont where I had weekly therapy and monthly psychiatric appointments. Then my therapist quit. I have been in the South for over 10 years. I came to help my parents. My mother died and my father is now in a nursing home with dementia. I am well in touch with my 3 children via texting and they think I'm okay. We only get together once a year due to finances and they are scattered in different directions. I am utterly frozen, paralyzed on my couch. I have been for 7 years. My meds have been changed and tweaked. Doing anything beyond reading or using electronic devices feels impossible. Bathing is daunting. I have to obsess about it for hours before I can do it. I can wash up and keep my appearance somewhat in order in between. But if bathing happens once a week it's a miracle. To cook, do housework or (heartbreakingly) visit my father in the facility is impossible. It feels like I am beneath a cement block. My husband, of course, wants me to "push through", to "be who I was". I want that also. Meanwhile, it is painful to even take a deep breath. I don't know what is next for me.

December, 30 2017 at 9:15 pm

Hey, thanks so much for this article. I never realised my CONCERN for this new symptom of my life-long struggle with depression (the apathy) was cause for hope! I also feel better knowing I am NOT the only one going through this. Part of the vicious circle of this illness is not talking to anybody about it. Keep up the good work. ?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 9 2018 at 3:07 pm

Sheryl I agree with you. Silence and faking my way through the days has been making it worse.

December, 27 2017 at 1:21 am

Word for word-I totally relate. Makes me feel like I am not battling this totally alone in some uber alien and freakish unrelatable way. Thank you for sharing and giving all of us struggling mutually silently a strong voice. There can be strength in numbers.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 27 2017 at 4:08 am

Hello, Danielle. You are definitely not alone. I'm Jennifer, the current co-author of The Coping With Depression Blog. Apathy is certainly a battle that most of us face, but sharing our struggle reminds us that we're not alone and gives hope and strength to others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

August, 13 2017 at 8:33 pm

This was beautifully written. I can identify with these signs. Thank you for sharing.

Jon Whittle
April, 26 2017 at 6:02 am

I have suffered from Severe Treatment-resistant Depression for much of the last 30 years. I really understand what apathy can do to people's lives. I have just started teaching myself Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy - It's been clinically proven to help with a lot of the symptoms of Major Depression, and was actually designed to help prevent relapses. I would definitely encourage anyone suffering from depression to look for the plentiful resources available - Some are even free! NeverSurrender.

April, 20 2017 at 12:05 pm

wow, after reading this, I now have a word for what has been happening to me. Depression sucks..and most people think one is just being lazy..but that one word.. APATHY..hit it on the spot. I am working on my PhD in my first semester. I was a straight A student with my BS & MS but this semester..APATHY is in full effect. Thanks for the helpful blog!

April, 16 2017 at 2:39 pm

I am also struggling with this. I have struggled with depression my whole life, on a roller coaster of up's and down's. Sometimes it's not that bad and seem to be doing OK. Other times I plummet into a deep hole of depression and can't seem to get out. It's much like what you described in the article. When I was younger, before I realized I was suffering from depression I would always wonder what was wrong with me and why I felt the way I did. I couldn't understand why I didn't care about anything. I had no interest or joy in anything. I felt I lacked the appropriate emotions or reactions to certain things. I felt that I had to force myself to appear excited or happy about things any other normal person would usually feel excited about. I told my mother I felt like the character (Eeyore) from Winnie-the-pooh. I told her that I KNOW something is wrong with, because even if Ed McMahon from The Publishers Clearing House showed up at my front door with a check for $100,000,000, I could care less either way. I would probably upset or anger them with my lack of excitement or emotion. I would come across as ungratful, which I have been accused of several times over the years because of it. I hate when I am in that ( I don't care ) state or part of the depression. I don't care about anything, important things, serious matters, negative consequesces and it scares the crap out of me. Sometimes I won't eat or I eat very little. I don't drink water or properly hydrate myself. I won't shower for 2 or 3 days, I don't seem to care. I don't brush my teeth as often as I should. I don't care about deadlines or due dates either. I isolate in my apartment, I don't go any where, and I don't talk to anyone. I procrastinate and ignore my problems. It really affects my life negatively and I hate it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 30 2017 at 9:21 pm

Can totally relate. Hope things change for us soon. I am on meds which helped with the suicidal ideation but still am self-isolating, procrastinating, battling to care about housework and doing the outdoor things I used to live for.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Carl mwenda
June, 20 2018 at 5:10 pm

Hey I feel like am undergoing everything you've described if you've found help please tell me what to do before its too late I feel like giving up on my life every single second I really need help cuz I feel like still there's some part of me deep down there that still wanna fight, sometimes I look myself at the mirror and feel like I don't recognize myself anymore.. Am unkept ,shaggy hair unbrushed teeth for like 3 days shower like twice a week, isolation, never picks up call from friends am even scared of re joining campus In September due to how I am

April, 5 2017 at 12:46 am

I've lived with depression my whole life. I tried to end my life when I was 12. I'm now 36 and I'm just existing. My mom is manic depressant, my aunt, and my grandmother. Honestly, three only reason I'm alive is for my mother. If she wasn't here I would of left this world a long time ago.

Tom Tacheny
March, 15 2017 at 5:59 am

This is strikingly familiar for me...aside from the cat videos.
I'm in the middle of this. I know I need to get to the gym. I know I need to meditate. It's 11am on a weekday and I haven't brushed my teeth yet. Just can't quite get there at the moment. The comments on frustration are very insightful and helpful. Thanks.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2017 at 6:01 am

Hi Tom,
I'm happy to provide insight. It feels like a simple reminder that there is a whole bunch of people trying to understand the issues we share. Now if only someone had an instant fix to being stuck, life would be much simpler.
Author, Coping with Depression Blog

Marykay Sarter
March, 12 2017 at 11:43 am

Apathy can be one of the greatest obstacles to overcome in depression. I find that writing down my goals and listing important things in my life to be very helpful.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2017 at 6:10 am

Hi Marykay,
I find writing down goals and making lists to be helpful as well. Visualization is powerful in coping with depression. Thank you for your comment and keep fighting the good fight.
Author, Coping with Depression Blog

March, 11 2017 at 12:30 pm

Hi! Loved reading this; so much intelligence and wit within the coping of this terrible illness. I thought at first that your blogger must be my daughter in disguise. I guess not, since the picture is not my daughter. There is much loveliness in both this blogger and my daughter. The info helped me better understand both my ill girls and it also helped ME. It is depressing to live with people you love who are so depressed. I used to be a pretty good sculptor; now, I just find no joy in it, but my hands are full trying to be a single mom and manage my kids' needs in a political system which seems bent on destroying anything other than the perfect cookie. Personally, I think the crumbs are pretty darn good :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 16 2017 at 6:06 am

Hi Susanne,
You sound like a wonderful mother with your dedication to researching and learning about your daughters' mental health challenges and supporting them in a wobbly society. I think the crumbs are pretty good too. Please continue your journey as you are and try to make time to find joy in things. You can't give anything if you have nothing for yourself.
All the best,
Author, Coping with Depression Blog

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