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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 6, 397 - 405

Review article

Apathy: from symptom to syndrome

R.L. Drijgers, P. Aalten, A.F.G Leentjens, F.R.J. Verhey

background Apathy is a major behavioural problem in dementia and other neuropsychiatric diseases.
aim To provide an overview of the development of the concept of apathy and its importance for clinical practice.
method The article is based on a review of the literature.
results There is evidence that apathy should be regarded as a syndrome rather than a symptom. Apathy is a construct that has several aspects and can occur across a range of diseases.It can occur as part of depressive disorders or cognitive deterioration or it can occur independently. Recently, diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of the apathy syndrome have been formulated on the
basis of an international consensus.
conclusion The diagnostic criteria that have been formulated recently will make it much easier to validate measuring instruments and research into the epidemiology, aetiology, pathophysiology and treatment of apathy.

keywords Alzheimer’s disease, apathy, dementia, diagnostic criteria, syndrome