The first line drug treatment for apathy is SSRI or NSRI antidepressant drugs. These drugs can improve apathy even when depression is not present.

If these drugs fail, sometimes a stimulant drug is used. Many of these drugs were developed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADHD), or narcolepsy, which is a condition of excessive sleepiness. Stimulant drugs have similar side effects which include agitation, insomnia, irritability, and high blood pressure. There can also be loss of appetite and headache.

Atomoxetine (Strattera®) This is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Doses start at 40 mg/day and are increased slowly over weeks of time. If this drug is used with paroxetine (Paxil®) or fluoxetine (Prozac®), lower dose adjustment is necessary.

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®) Dosages start at 10 mg/day, and can be increased in weekly intervals. This drug has high addictive potential.

Modafinil (Provigil®) Dosage starts as 100-200 mg/day. This drug is also used for treatment of fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis. Headache is a frequent side effect of higher dose therapy. This drug has lower side effect potential for agitation or insomnia.