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Losing interest

7-minute read

Key facts

  • An ongoing loss of interest in many things or people can be a sign of a mental health condition.
  • If your symptoms are due to a mental health condition, your doctor will recommend treatments.
  • There are also self-care strategies you can try to help motivate yourself and get back on track when you are experiencing a lack of interest.

What is losing interest?

Losing interest or pleasure in activities or people that once gave you enjoyment may be due to:

  • overworking and fatigue
  • relationship problems
  • being in a temporary rut
  • boredom or burnout

But an ongoing loss of interest in many things can be a sign of a mental health condition.

What symptoms are related to losing interest?

If you have lost interest in activities that used to give you pleasure, you may also lose motivation to do things. You may feel that you don't want to go out, which can leave you isolated.

You may also have trouble concentrating.

Other symptoms that may go along with losing interest are:

  • feeling unhappy
  • feeling flat or numb
  • sleep problems
  • tiredness
  • changes in appetite or weight

What can cause loss of interest?

If your loss of interest in things goes on for 2 weeks or more, it can be a sign of a mental health condition.

Loss of interest can be due to:

  • Depression — loss of interest is a key symptom of depression.
  • Stress — long-term stress can lead to burnout, where you lose motivation and interest, and withdraw from people.
  • Substance misuse — can lead to loss of interest and withdrawing from activities, loss of friends and conflict.
  • Grief — you may experience a temporary loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy while you are grieving.

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor if you are experiencing ongoing symptoms (more than 2 weeks) such as:

  • losing interest in activities or people
  • feeling sad most of the time
  • not sleeping well
  • appetite changes
  • weight changes
  • lack of motivation
  • restlessness or difficulty concentrating

Conditions like depression can get worse over time if untreated, so seek help early.

Your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms and examine you. They may suggest some tests (such as blood tests) to rule out any physical conditions.

Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional if you need one. They can set up a mental health treatment plan, if needed. This can provide you with Medicare rebates for appointments with certain mental health professionals, such as psychologists and counsellors.

If you need to talk to someone about your mental health, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

When to seek urgent care

If you, or someone you know, is having suicidal thoughts and is in immediate danger, call triple zero (000). For help and support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Are there any treatments that can help with loss of interest?

If your symptoms are due to a mental health condition, your doctor will recommend treatment.

For example, if you have depression or another mental health condition, treatment might include:

Self-care

There are also things you can try to help motivate yourself to get back on track when you are experiencing a lack of interest.

  • Get up and move about — even small amounts of physical activity can help improve your mood and make you feel less sluggish and tired.
  • Spend time outside in nature to help with sleep and mood.
  • Eat healthily most of the time.
  • Try to get enough sleep.
  • Get into a good routine — daily rituals and routines can help reduce stress and give you a sense of some control.
  • Do things that have worked before — if you've had problems with losing interest in the past, try using strategies that helped last time.
  • Use your support network — make sure your friends and family know what you're going through. Spending time with other people can help improve your mood.
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

Daily actions to improve your mental health

Research from MindSpot has shown that regularly performing five simple actions can improve your mental health. Learn more here

Resources and support

If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start.

For advice and to get connected to local mental health services, you can call Head to Health on 1800 595 212. Check the operating times.

Black Dog Institute has a variety of digital tools and apps to help improve mental health.

If you'd like to find out more or talk to someone else, there are some organisations that can help.

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2024


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