Methylphenidate may treat apathy independent of depression

Prasad R. Padala, Frederick Petty, Subhash C. Bhatia

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31 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To report a case of apathy treated with methylphenidate in which improvement in apathy was independent of improvement of depression. CASE SUMMARY: A 47-year-old woman with a 20-year history of recurrent major depression was diagnosed as having significant apathy with lack of initiative and motivation. Over the course of a 4-week treatment regimen with methylphenidate, her apathy, as measured by the Apathy Evaluation Scale, improved, with her score decreasing from 57 to 31. During this period, her depression, as assessed by the 21 -item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, remained unchanged. DISCUSSION: Our report of improvement of apathy with methylphenidate is consistent with other reports in the literature, although previous studies have not specifically used the rating scales to assess apathy. Even though this patient had experienced apathy for a long time, it had not been detected due to lack of direct questioning. In this case, as noted, the improvement of apathy was independent of improvement in depression. CONCLUSIONS: A high degree of suspicion and specific inquiry is required for identification of apathy. Once detected, methylphenidate may be beneficial in its treatment, a strategy that may work independently of augmentation of antidepressants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1947-1949
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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