The 6 differences between boredom and apathy: how to distinguish them?

Sometimes we experience emotions or sensations that are similar to one another and this can lead to confusion.

This time we’re going to fall apart the main differences between boredom and apathy, First know what characterizes each of them to learn to distinguish easily, focusing on the elements in which the two sensations diverge.

    What do we mean by boredom and apathy?

    While sometimes we may have doubts about what exactly we are feeling, the truth is that there are differences between boredom and apathy that help us distinguish them and be able to properly label our condition. But for that, the first thing we need to be clear about is what each of these feelings is, so we’re going to start defining so that we have the basis we need before we move forward.

    Boredom is a feeling of discomfort that a person experiences when going through a certain situation that does not arouse interest or motivation.. It usually occurs in response to repetitive stimuli or to those that cause the subject to tire quickly. It can also be generated precisely in the face of a lack of stimuli.

    On the other hand, apathy is linked to a state of indifference to stimuli. The person who suffers from this condition is said to show a lack of emotion and enthusiasm. He would have lost the motivation to perform any activity, whatever the nature. It would not be a response to a particular stimulus, but a generalized condition in that person.

    Once we have made this first approach to the two concepts, we can delve into the differences between boredom and apathy to continue to correctly distinguish these two phenomena.

    The main differences between boredom and apathy

    Below we will compile the main differences between boredom and apathy in a list.

    1. The question of desire

    The first clear difference that we find on this subject is given by the desire to act. When we talk about boredom, the person wants to perform an action different from the one they are doing (If you do). But the case of apathy is different. A person who experiences apathy will not want to participate in either the activity they are doing or any other activity. He doesn’t want to do any.

    2. Motivation

    Another of the differences between boredom and apathy is given by the way of motivation. A bored person has the motivation to perform an activity that satisfies them, because they don’t like the situation they are going through at that particular moment, either because of a lack of activity or because the activity that they are doing. it exercises is tedious.

    however, during the state of apathy, there is no such motivation to perform an activity. The person is in a state of total loss of interest in performing any exercise of whatever nature.

      3. At the end

      If we focus on the purpose or utility of these states, we might observe that boredom acts as a warning sign for the individualTo orient oneself towards the search for another type of action which satisfies him, which in a way would be a motor to lead the person to orient his behavior towards activities which would be positive.

      On the other hand, apathy does not push the person to act, quite the contrary. He would sink into a kind of lethargy for which he would not want to take any action. So let’s note that this is one of the big differences between boredom and apathy.

      4. Cause

      As for the cause, boredom can come simply from a lack of motivation towards the specific task (or non-task) and a desire to perform another, as we have already seen. But apathy, in some cases, may have a pathological component. In fact, it is considered that at the clinical level, a persistent state of apathy may be an indicator of risk for depression.

      In other cases, when it is considered not to reach the level of minor depression, it may be included in dissociative identity disorder. In addition, it should be borne in mind that sometimes apathy can also have a chemical origin, for example as a side effect when taking certain drugs.

      5. Symptom

      Continuing with the differences between boredom and apathy, we see that apathy can represent a symptom in a variety of ailments, starting with depression, as we saw in the previous point. but also can be seen in patients with other diseases, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Wernicke’s disease or schizoid personality disorder.

      As for boredom, it has no clinical significance on its own, as it is a transient state that usually goes away the moment the person finds a task that motivates them more or for some reason. is more pleasant, thus putting an end to his frustration.

      6. Remedy

      Another point which is one of the differences between boredom and apathy is the remedy that can be given.

      In the case of boredom, it seems clear that the solution would lie in finding a purpose with which to spend time in an enjoyable way.. Active entertainment is more rewarding than passive in this sense, which would act as a kind of temporary patch.

      Therefore, it seems that boredom can be solved in a reasonably simple way, also having multiple ways of doing it, as it is usually not a single activity that can eliminate boredom, but a variety of between them. The only thing the subject needs is to find it and get to work to eliminate the unpleasant feeling in which he is immersed.

      But apathy has more complex roots and therefore requires more sophisticated solutions. This happens especially when we talk about clinical apathy, as we have seen in the previous points. At this point, the help of a professional psychologist will be necessary, as apathy would be a symptom within a condition that requires therapy to be cured.

      The dangers of chronic boredom

      We have gone through a number of the differences between boredom and apathy to realize that they are actually very different concepts, and apathy apparently reverses greater complexity and risk than boredom. . However, there is a form of boredom that can also come with some dangers. It’s chronic boredom.

      There is a profile of people who, faced with persistent boredom situations, they may experience such discomfort that they will greatly increase the chances of them choosing to engage in risky behavior to try to compensate for that feeling. Among these types of behaviors is the use of substances such as alcohol or drugs.

      others might trying to alleviate the anxiety caused by boredom through disproportionate intakes to eat, to be able to develop upheavals in eating behavior, such as bulimia.

      These are obviously extreme and extremely complex cases, which should be analyzed in detail, because it is likely that another set of variables is involved in the problem that would have ended up causing this situation in the individual.

      Apathy and abulia

      As we delve deeper into the differences between boredom and apathy, we will devote more attention to some of the latter’s characteristics. This emotional state supposes in the individual, as we have already seen, an emotional flattening, in which he feels neither positive nor negative emotions. His lethargy causes him not to emotionally channel any stimuli, anyway.

      But also apathy is usually accompanied by another phenomenon, which is abulia. It is a psychopathological condition in which the person has lost the refusal to perform an activity and also feels that they do not even have enough energy to do so. As a result, he is immersed in emotional flattening and without the strength or desire to participate in any activity or exercise.

      Not all cases of apathetic people present with a symptomatology as extremeBut when this is the case, we would enter the realm of pathology and therefore the individual should receive the psychological help necessary to overcome and recover a suitable emotional state, as we have already seen that in many cases apathy may be the antechamber of depression.

      After this collection of the differences between boredom and apathy, we now have the tools to be able to distinguish the two phenomena and understand in which cases we must refer to each of them.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Corvinelli, A. (2005). Relieving Boredom in Adult Men Recovering from Substance Use Disorder Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. Taylor and Francis.
      • Goldberg, YK, Eastwood, JD, LaGuardia, J., Danckert, J. (2011). Boredom: an emotional experience other than apathy, anhedonia, or depression. Journal of Social and Clinical.— Guilford Press.
      • Mann, RS (1990). Differential diagnosis and classification of apathy. I am J Psychiatry. Citeseer.
      • Marí, RS (1996). Apathy: concept, syndrome, neural mechanisms and treatment. Clinical neuropsychiatry seminars.

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