Q. Can anxiety or social disorder make someone apathetic?

Answered by
Dr. Suresh Kumar G D
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
Published on Dec 26, 2018

Hello doctor,

I believe I have some form of social disorder. I do not have feelings like others. I do not feel empathy but can be empathetic on cue as I know the social cues. And I prefer to keep to myself. Can you please advise where I can be diagnosed? I have always thought it was anxiety as this has been a problem in the past. I realize I have never been in love and probably do not know what it really is. I have five kids and saw them all taking birth but I never felt joy or real happiness when they were born even though I knew I should be happy. I am taking Lexam 20 for anxiety.

Dr. Suresh Kumar G D

Child Health Paediatrics Psychiatry


Welcome to icliniq.com.

With the limited information you have provided, it is difficult to give an accurate opinion. It is possible you are describing some features of autism spectrum traits or Asperger syndrome which can manifest as social communication difficulties and anxiety. It is not uncommon and the majority do not even know they have autism spectrum traits. But whether you actually have enough features to reach the diagnostic threshold can only be confirmed after a detailed assessment.

Usually, people with autism spectrum traits would have displayed symptoms from their childhood and would have faced peer relationship difficulties at school. Check with your parents and siblings. Also, these traits can run in families. If your social difficulties and anxiety developed later on in life, it is unlikely to be due to an underlying neuro-developmental condition like autism spectrum condition. If you actually want to know whether you have the condition, speak to your local GP or family doctor about a referral to appropriate local specialist services.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for your quick response. I really appreciate it. I think it may be sociopathic. I am charming, can be social but it is hard work to pretend all the time that I am interested. My job as a maintenance superintendent is very involved in dealing with people so I am good at the social thing, just do not feel anything for it. How can I get help?

Dr. Suresh Kumar G D

Child Health Paediatrics Psychiatry


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

From what you have described, your social interaction is more like an act and not coming naturally to you. Both autism spectrum condition and sociopaths can affect how someone thinks, feels and relates to others. Sociopathic tendencies can range in severity from occasional bad behavior to repeatedly breaking the law and getting into trouble with the criminal justice system. You will benefit by a detailed assessment including your earlier childhood developmental history, family history, etc., to help clarify whether you have sociopathic tendencies or autism spectrum traits or rarely a combination of both. It is possible that you do not have any of these traits to a significant degree that warrants additional intervention. But something has prompted you to seek help, so worthwhile exploring. What is important here is you are showing good insight and wants to get support to make yourself better.

You mentioned earlier about being treated for anxiety with Lexam 20. Did you receive it from your family doctor or GP or specialist psychiatrist? I would recommend contacting them again and sharing your thoughts. Depending on the outcome of the diagnostic assessment, some form of talking therapy like CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) or mentalization-based therapy can be considered if needed.

Other general advice that will be helpful is exercise regularly, avoid too much alcohol or other recreational substances, connect with a group of like-minded people to engage in some positive activities, volunteering, etc. Try to open up and talk to a trusted family member about your insecurities. You can try yoga or meditation.

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