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J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1995 Winter;7(1):23-30.

Apathy: a treatable syndrome.

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  • 1Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Apathy occurs frequently in neuropsychiatric disorders both as a symptom of other syndromes and as a syndrome per se. Histories are presented of patients with a syndrome of apathy who showed clinically significant, sustained benefit from pharmacological treatment. Etiologies included non-Alzheimer's frontal lobe dementia, cerebral infarction, intracranial hemorrhage, alcoholism, and traumatic brain injury. Agents included amantadine, amphetamine, bromocriptine, bupropion, methylphenidate, and selegiline. These histories support the suggestion that apathy is a discriminable dimension of behavior having its own pathophysiology and implications for psychiatric care. They raise the possibility of treatment for many patients previously thought untreatable. Studying the treatment of apathy may contribute to the clinical care and scientific understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders throughout the life span.

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