Anhedonia: Causes, Signs & Treatment
Losing your interest in activities that you used to enjoy and find pleasurable earlier could be felt by many people. However, anhedonia takes this feature to a greater extent and people suffering from it cannot feel pleasure and enjoyment at all. Anhedonia doesn’t let a person feel good with music, food, social gatherings and sexual relationships.
It is a core symptom of major depressive disorder but it could also show red flags for other depressive disorders like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and anorexia nervosa.
However, it is also true that not everyone who has anhedonia must have a mental health disorder. Someone who wishes to indulge in risky behavior like skydiving or bungee jumping can also experience anhedonia.
What Causes Anhedonia?
As explained above, anhedonia is a common symptom of depression, antidepressants and antipsychotics can become a common reason for the same.
Other causes of anhedonia are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and high anxiety.
What Are Common Symptoms Of Anhedonia?
If we decipher anhedonia, it can be seen in two forms. One form is social anhedonia which shows lack of social interest and pleasure in connecting with a social group. Other form is physical anhedonia where one doesn’t feel happy in eating, touching or enjoying sex.
Other symptoms may include:
- Withdrawal from relationships completely
- Inability to express emotional abilities
- Negativity within oneself
- Loss of libido and lack of physical intimacy
- Physical problems like getting sick very often
- Pretending fake emotions like being happy at a birthday party
Some risk factors could also include major illness, eating disorders, negligence, stressful events, etc. It is also known that females are at a higher risk of developing symptoms of anhedonia than males.
Examples Of Anhedonia
A user on ‘firsthand’ mentioned, “For the past 7 years, I have had the smallest flickering of emotions, what I feel on a daily basis is nil. I have no desire to truly speak of, as nothing I do is rewarding or satisfying. This is the core of my anhedonia, a symptom of major depression.”
Another user quoted:
“Essentially, I gain nothing from my daily life; my world is cold and, as such, it makes life seem the same way. Everything I look at, everything I do, looks and feels the same.”
If you were someone who used to go out on a date, a movie with friends, clubbing and partying around but none of them excites you anymore could be an example. Basketball is your favorite game and used to be a stressbuster but today, it just doesn’t mean anything to you! Such examples could show signs of anhedonia.
When you approach your general physician for consultation, he or she may ask you about your mood nowadays. It is best to keep an account of your mood changes before approaching the doctor and all the instances where you felt lack of pleasure.
It is important if you explain to your doctor everything in detail for a good treatment of anhedonia. If you are experiencing any physical problem then the doctor may also perform certain physical examinations. If required, you will also be asked to go through a blood test to find vitamin deficiency and thyroid problems.
As overcoming anhedonia could be a little difficult to treat, the doctors firstly needed to find out what is the underlying cause for it. Your doctor helps in ruling out any medical cause which may be hampering the health. If none of the medical issues is the reason for loss in pleasurable activities then you are referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health professional.
If you are uncomfortable in connecting with a therapist in-person, online therapy is the new horizon for you. The treatment may have a combination of therapies and medications that are effective in treating anhedonia as well as depression.
2. Lifestyle Changes:
Apart from regular therapies, you are also advised to make lifestyle changes while including meditation, dietary changes, time management, etc. that provide you immense satisfaction in life.
If you or your loved ones are showing anhedonic symptoms or have lost pleasure in activities that were loved before, it’s time to consult with an expert for the treatment of anhedonia.
Ask us to connect with a counselor by messaging us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you in finding the right counselor.