Are you experiencing apathy?

Do you ever feel lethargic and disinterested, like you couldn’t be bothered to do anything at all? Indeed, this feeling is “apathy”. We all have days where we just don’t want to do things we know we should, like dealing with house chores after coming back from a long vacation. Dealing with apathy has been a huge challenge for humans throughout history. This article will explore what apathy does to our mental health, and some ways to handle these feelings when they arise.

What Apathy Means: 2 Characteristics

Since no two people in the world are the same, what apathy manifests itself as, and how it affects us, are different for each of us. It also depends on what we are feeling apathetic about and how we got there. As an example, college students sometimes display symptoms of “student apathy”. Some students lose motivation to take on their studies without a clear reason. Researchers believe this to be one of the reasons for students to fail grades and dropout. Student Apathy is different to apatheticness that stems from depression. This is because Student Apathy is an experience specifically towards their studies, whereas Depressive Apathy is something that affects our entire life. The former kind of apathy involves the inability to think further about the problems they hold. On the other hand, the latter generally involves overthinking about problems.

Student apathy and depressive apathy

In the same way that sugar and salt appears the same but are completely unlike, different manifestations of apatheticness have been lumped under the same umbrella term of “apathy”. Currently, researchers are trying to see if apatheticness can be patterned into student-apathy-types and depression-types.

Diffirent Kinds of Apatheticness

In 2003, researchers conducted a survey in Japan among 283 university students (233 valid responses). The researchers were able to sort the participants into multiple groups, based on questionnaires asking about their motivation for club activities and part-time jobs. The results showed one high motivation group, and three low motivation groups.

A man who puts his hands on his face

Furthermore, they found that the low-motivation groups had two categories: low motivation for academics alone and low motivation for everything. As a result, only the group with low motivation towards academics showed characteristics of Student Apathy. These student showed a lack of thought towards their inner selves. This suggests that the low academic motivation group had a tendency toward Student Apathy, which may be different from the other two low motivation groups. Although the study itself may not be concrete, the results show what apathy can be patterned into: Student Apathy, and Depressive Apathy. Furthermore, that these two patterns of apathy should have separate categories when considering treatment.

What can we learn from apathy?

What Apathy Can Teach Us

The Japanese study mentioned above yielded some other interesting results. According to the study, the group with the lowest interpersonal and recreational motivation tended to look inward when they had a negative experience. Of course, it’s a good thing that we don’t run away from bad experiences. However, they were more likely to develop depression through their apatheticness. This was mainly because of their lack in dependency for support, and disinterest in entertainment. While this Japanese study focused on what apathy did to the behavior of students, in today’s fast-paced society, this situation could resonate with anyone, and not just students.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

There are times in our lives when we can’t help but feel like not wanting to do anything. If so, why not try relying on someone else? When we don’t feel good, we can’t help but think negatively. At times like this, staying in our own thought bubble can set us down into a negative spiral. If you continue to dwell in your general disinterest and lack of motivation, that’s what apathy will feed on. Before this happens, try reaching out. A family member, friend, someone you trust, or even a stranger on social media. One of those people may be able to help you stay positive and lift you out from your apatheticness. I hope this article has also served as a small light at the end of the tunnel, for someone who may need it.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

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Kano, T., & Tsugawa, R. (2008). A classification of apathy in undergraduates. The Japanese Journal of Mental Health, 23(2), 2-10. doi: 10.11383/kokoronokenkou1986.23.2_2

Uchida, C. (2010). Apathetic and Withdrawing Students in Japanese Universities – with Regard to Hikikomori and Student Apathy. Journal of Medical and Dental Sciences 57(1), 95-108. doi: 10.11480/jmds.570111