“I don’t care!”
“That’s so dumb.”
“I’m not gonna do that.”
“It’s a waste of time.”
If you have a teenager who struggles with apathy, then you’ve probably heard these statements many times. You might have wondered, “Why doesn’t she/he care?” and “Will it always be this way?”
If you’re struggling with your teen’s apathy, this article will help you understand why your troubled teen doesn’t seem to care about anything and what you can do to help them.
Remember that while understanding why your teen might be struggling with apathy is important, you will still need fully-licensed mental health professionals to help you and your teen.
Teen Apathy: masking uncomfortable emotions and disorders
Teen apathy often masks many different emotions. Here are four of the most common reasons why teens might struggle with apathy.
1. Teen apathy may be a sign of loneliness
Rather than communicating that they’re feeling lonely or left out, a teen might put up the front that they don’t care about anything. While this is hard, it’s important to remember that it’s much easier and seen as more typical in a teen to look like they don’t care about anything than admit that they’re feeling lonely.
For example, if your teen feels like they don’t get your attention during your downtime, they might start acting out. A simple question like “Why are you doing that?” might elicit a statement like “because I want to” while hiding the real reason, which is feeling left out or lonely.
2. Teen apathy may be an indicator of low self-esteem
Not caring about anything might be a way of hiding that they care but don’t feel like they’re good enough.
For example, if you’re constantly nagging your teenager about the time that they spend watching Netflix or playing video games, then they might just shut down and feel like they’re not good enough.
Apathy then becomes a way of dealing with the negative feedback that they’re getting from others, including you.
3. Teen apathy is common in those with ADHD
Teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) use apathy as a maladaptive way of coping with their illness. So, instead of focusing on their homework and creating a realistic structure where they spend a certain time each day on their work, a teen with ADHD might tune you and their homework out. They might tell themselves, “if I ignore it, then I won’t have to keep trying and failing.”
Many teens with ADHD often struggle with their academic performance, and in their eyes, choosing to give up or not care might seem like an easier route.
4. Teen apathy may be a sign of other disorders and illnesses
Teen apathy may be a sign of depression, Lyme’s disease, or motivational disorder.
Recognizing that your child might be struggling with a physical or mental illness can help you be more empathetic. It can also help you understand the different ways that you can help your teen, including taking them to a doctor or mental health professional.
Residential treatment centers can help with teen apathy
If your teen struggles with apathy, consider residential treatment centers suitable for your teen and their situation. At a center, a fully-licensed mental health professional would find out the root cause of their apathy and help them reduce or eliminate behaviors that encourage this emotion. Using different types of therapies and teaching methods, the staff at the centers would make sure that your teen can move forward in life.