Anhedonia

Anhedonia

Suppose that the things that brought happiness once just didn’t anymore. Imagine feeling nothing about your closest relationships. Imagine things like food, sex, nature, and entertainment fail to elicit any response in you. If you feel this kind of detachment or numbness, you are not alone; you might be dealing with anhedonia. In this article, I will talk about Anhedonia’s meaning, causes, symptoms, and effects on relationships and treatments. So let’s get started:

Anhedonia meaning

Anhedonia is derived from two Greek words, “a” means without and “hedone,” meaning delight or pleasure. So, Anhedonia meaning losing interest in things you used to enjoy once and losing the ability to feel joy.

Anhedonia definition

Here is anhedonia definition:

“Loss of the capacity to experience pleasure. The inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences. Anhedonia is a core clinical feature of depression, schizophrenia, and some other mental illnesses.”

Anhedonia pronunciation

If you wonder what anhedonia pronunciation is, you see can visit different websites or google to know how you can say it. For improving anhedonia pronunciation, you may want to start by saying the following nearby words.

Anheuser, anhu, anhydrase, anha, anh, anhydrous, anhydride, anhydrides.

Also, test pronunciation on words having similar sounds with anhedonia, for instance:

Antonia, Caledonia, anemia, academia, anamnesis, anatoly, anatomical, anecdotal, anno domini, antenna, and anadromous.

Anhedonia psychology

If you are wondering about anhedonia psychology, I am here to help you. One of the main symptoms of major depressive disorder is anhedonia. A person loses all his interests in previously enjoyable and rewarding activities. People suffering from clinical depression lose interest in friends, hobbies, food, work, and even sex. It is just like that pleasure circuits of the brain are shut down.

Aaron Heller and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Reading (UK) reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on new functional magnetic resonance imaging studies regarding activation patterns of brain in non-depressed and depressed people. People were allowed to look at neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant pictures for about 37 minutes but volunteers were not passive. They made a real effort to enhance the mood produced by the picture, whether sad, happy, or indifferent. Here are five essential insights from the study:

  • Depressed brains did not sustain nucleus accumbens (NA) in response to positive pictures, but normal brains did even if they tried hard.
  • Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex (or PFC, the thin outer layer of the brain behind the forehead) can cause difficulties in sustaining the NA activity.
  • A depressed person who could not sustain activity in NA was less responsive emotionally to pleasurable pictures.
  • Depressed people who were able to sustain NA activity also showed positive emotions in daily life.
  • The inability to sustain the NA activity was particular to positive emotion.

Apparently, this suggested that happiness is difficult to sustain, but sadness is not. Maybe sadness is our default setting. This research helps us understand anhedonia psychology, what really goes on in our brain when we are suffering from anhedonia. This can also help in finding out whether treatments are really helpful and how we can improve these treatments.

Risk factors for anhedonia

As I have mentioned above, the core symptom of depression is anhedonia. Prescribed medications, especially antipsychotics and antidepressants that are used in the treatment of depression, can be a cause of anhedonia.

According to anhedonia schizophrenia examples, schizotypy is a kind of psychology theory according to which personality traits can be a risk factor behind psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Social anhedonia is a risk factor behind schizophrenia.  Having a large amount of anxiety and stress or recreational drug use can also cause anhedonia.

Research also has shown that females are at greater risk of anhedonia.  In case you have a family history of major depression or schizophrenia, the risk of anhedonia is increased in you. Some other risk factors are as follows:

  • a disease that impacts your quality of life
  • a major illness
  • a history of neglect or abuse
  • a recent stressful or traumatic event
  • an eating disorder

What causes anhedonia?

Lifestyle choices can affect the presence of anhedonia. Problems with motivation and procrastination result in increasing anhedonia. However, some other factors can also contribute to it. Anhedonia makes your life colorless. But what causes anhedonia? Let’s have a look:

Depression

Anhedonia is most commonly associated with depression, and for most depressed people, it is the primary symptom. Anhedonia is self-perpetuating. A book worm suddenly may not find reading interesting or enjoyable anymore. And then they may feel despondent about it because they cannot enjoy their favorite activities anymore. Many theories are associated with causes of depression, but anhedonia is linked with the problem in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure or reward; maybe it is not present in the right quantities in people who are experiencing depression symptoms.

Bipolar disorder

In bipolar disorder, anhedonia may arise from dysregulation within reward processing systems. During a depressive episode, if someone is experiencing anhedonia, they may have difficulty registering the benefits once they enjoyed a particular activity, making it less pleasurable.

Schizophrenia

Anhedonia is also associated with schizophrenia. It is even more challenging to treat anhedonia if the person is diagnosed with schizophrenia. About 80% of people who have schizophrenia suffer from anhedonia. It is a negative symptom, which means if a person shows this symptom, it means he lacks something that occurs in normal and healthy individuals. Some researchers suggest that as anhedonia is a negative symptom of schizophrenia, so schizophrenia anhedonia treatment is difficult.

Posttraumatic stress

It is common for people with PTSD to experience anhedonia also. It is one of the symptoms of PTSD. Anhedonia has a strong impact on relationships, sex life, and emotions of people. It may also play an important role in a person’s emotional numbness that can take place as a coping mechanism after a person experiences severe trauma. Some studies have also suggested that people having anhedonia as a result of PTSD will react less positively than ordinary people to the events that were a source of pleasure previously.

Anxiety

People who are suffering from anxiety when experiencing anhedonia may also develop depression in the case of anxiety, a person who manifests a lack of pleasure towards previous favorite activities that cause anxiety. A study suggests that anxiety can lead to depression via anhedonia as a person is prone to depression during this situation when they are numb to anxiety, causing activities.

If you know what is causing anhedonia and you address the root cause, it may become easy to overcome anhedonia. It is an unsettling experience when a person loses a sense of enjoyment in something that brought joy previously. But fortunately, anhedonia is not permanent. Schizophrenia anhedonia treatment from professionals can help in effectively treating anhedonia.

Social Anhedonia

Social anhedonia can be defined as a disinterest in social contact and a lack of pleasure in social activities, which leads to social withdrawal. This clearly means that a person has a lack of interest in other people.  It is a non-pathological dimension of human personality in contrast to introversion, and a person is unable to experience a pleasure. It is also different from social anxiety in a way that it is predominantly typified by diminished positive affect; on the other hand, social anxiety is distinguished by both exaggerated negative affect and decreased positive affect.

This personality trait is currently referred to as the main characteristic and a predictor of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. It is also suggested that it is a potential evolution of several personality disorders. Prodromal schizophrenia may be excluded when a person is above 24.

Social Anhedonia symptoms

Social anhedonia can make your life difficult and can also lead your loved ones away. There are certain symptoms of social anhedonia. If you feel like you or any other person around you friend or relative have similar symptoms, make sure to seek advice from a professional. Here are social anhedonia symptoms:

  • Going into isolation
  • Lack of close friends
  • Leaving previous relationships or a lack of relationships
  • Depressed mood
  • Flat affect
  • Difficulty in coping up with a social situation
  • Always negative emotions toward yourself and especially others.
  • A person may try to show fake emotion; for instance, he may try to look happy at a wedding when actually he is not.
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Reduced emotional abilities, for instance, less nonverbal or verbal expressions
  • Decreased positive effect
  • State-related anxiety
  • A lack of interest in physical intimacy or a loss of libido
  • Persistent physical problems, for instance, being sick often.

Social Anhedonia in depression

Stats show that social anhedonia in depression occurs in 70% of people, but it is also associated with schizophrenia. It is a core symptom of major depressive disorder, so people experiencing this symptom can be diagnosed with depression even when they are not experiencing a depressed mood. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states anhedonia as a lack of pleasure or interest, but it can be difficult to identify as people become less interested in things that do not bring happiness.

Social anhedonia is a state-related to depressive episodes. Individuals tend to score highly on self-report measures. Blanchard, Horan, and Brown showed that with time depression, patients start experiencing symptom remission and show fewer signs of social anhedonia. Blanchard and colleagues (2011 report) found that people suffering from social anhedonia have higher rates of lifetime mood disorders, including dysthymia and depression, compared to controls. Social anhedonia in depression can make your life hell.

Anhedonia schizophrenia

Anhedonia schizophrenia is one of the common forms of anhedonia. Although negative symptoms are classified into five domains, two factors are yielded after factor analysis of questionnaires and including deficits in motivation and pleasure.

Anhedonia schizophrenia definition

According to Anhedonia schizophrenia definition, anhedonia is one of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. People who are suffering from schizophrenia show fewer positive emotions as compared to normal people.

Anhedonia schizophrenia examples

Anhedonia schizophrenia examples show that consummatory pleasure or liking remains intact in people with schizophrenia. It is reported that they experience the same level of positive affect when presented with pleasurable stimuli. Anhedonia schizophrenia is linked with reduced positive prediction errors, and some of the studies indicate that anhedonia is correlated with negative symptoms. People with schizophrenia show impairment in reinforcement tasks only when the particular task needs explicit learning. On the other hand, implicit reinforcement learning is relatively intact. These deficits are somehow linked to dysfunction in dlPFC, OFC, and ACC, leading to the abnormal representation of goals and rewards.

Anhedonia and relationships

Any kind of mental illness can affect relationships, whether common or romantic. The same is the case with anhedonia. Stats showed that about 50% of marriages fail, and 25% of people directly have a mental illness. These two stats seem unrelated, but what are the marriage statistics for people with and without mental illness. No doubt, failure rates will be higher with mental illness as there is even more stress and pressure on the relationship. Mental illness has a lot of stigmas linked to it.

How it affects romantic relationships?

Depression and anxiety are two very common mental health problems, and both are somehow connected with anhedonia; as I have mentioned above, it is one of the symptoms. Both these conditions can ruin your ability to love.

Most people have a common misconception about depression and characterized it as sadness, hopelessness, or feeling down. This happens definitely, but actually, anhedonia is another property of depression where a person loses interest in previously enjoyable activities, even sex, which is an integral part of a romantic relationship.

Anhedonia is a complicated phase of emotional deadness, in which instead of feeling sad or down, a person feels nothing. A person may feel there is no love, or they have completely fallen out of love. It may seem bizarre to people who have never experienced anhedonia, but that is not reality a lot of people experience this.

John Folk-Williams, who is a survivor of major depressive disorder and now is a full-time blogger on mental health, shares his own views on anhedonia and relationships. He has experienced it. Here is how it destroys relationships, according to him:

“There is another dimension of depression that can lead to the idea of escape as the answer.

It’s the one that causes depressed partners to say they’re no longer in love and have never loved their partners. It’s called anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure or interest in anything.

For me, it was a kind of deadness. Rather than an excess of painful emotion, it was the lack of pain, the lack of feeling, that was the undercurrent of all the surface turmoil. I felt no satisfaction in life.

I believed that the relationship was holding me back, that it had become hollow, empty of the intensity I longed for. I was sure that I could only find happiness and passion with someone else. It was the fantasy of the perfectly passionate mate that was a constant lure.”

He also says that:

“Anhedonia is the cause of the desire to leave to find a new, more intense life. The depressed partner’s relationship feels loveless because he can hardly feel at all.

The problem is that the unaware depressive has such a high threshold of feeling that it takes extreme arousal to evoke excitement and passion. He can erupt with anger and rage because these are more violent emotions that stir him as little else does.

Kramer says that these clients often believe that they’re perfectly capable of feeling. After all, they can go out and have fun with friends. They can feel passionate about others who likely have no constraining relationships or might be seeking the same kind of escape.

But they feel good precisely because these experiences offer exceptionally high levels of stimulation. They may also turn to addictive habits like recreational drugs, drinking, gambling, or pornography for the same reason.

Fantasies of escaping into a life full of new intensity seem like the perfect answer to their inner emptiness.”

Lack of emotions

When a person needs extremely high levels just to stimulate feelings, it is understandable that people will more likely show destructive and risky behaviors. Anhedonia makes intimacy impossible. So the bond you share with your partner starts breaking down slowly. The sufferer finds no attachment or arousal in the partner. Everything seems detached. They know that they should feel pleasure around their partner, but they do not feel this way and also can’t change it.

When a person does not understand anhedonia, it becomes easy to blame some external factors. A person who is suffering thinks that he is unhappy due to their weight, relationship, or job. Hope and happiness are replaced by fantasy. The person starts believing that life will be better if they can point out the exact disturbing factor. For instance, if they get the perfect body, job, or partner, things will get better.

But the fact is, this does not work at all. Finding someone perfect is just a fantasy and has nothing to do with reality. Perfection does not exist. People who try to achieve perfection destroy beautiful things in their life.

Anhedonia and relationships are connected. Love is an important factor. When there is no love, a relationship cannot survive. Because of anhedonia, this love just vanishes. Instead of focusing on good things, a person starts focusing on little bad things. When their partner tries to make things better or do something really romantic, the sufferer shows low or no interest at all. As a result, the other person gets hurt badly. These little moments can then destroy relationships slowly. Things pile up, and resentments grow.  The result is break up or divorce. And when this happens, it feels terrible as a once strong relationship has dissolved.

Anhedonia test

In case you are experiencing anhedonia symptoms, it is necessary for you to visit your primary health doctor. So that if there is any medical condition involved that might cause the inability to experience pleasure, it can be ruled out. The doctor will examine you and ask some diagnostic questions; the doctor will also perform some lab tests to ensure that vitamin and hormone levels are normal. If you are physically fine, he will refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

A psychologist or psychiatrist will further assess your situation via an anhedonia test and recommend a suitable treatment or medication based on your condition.

Anhedonia quiz

It is not possible to know on your own if you are suffering from anhedonia or not. But you can have an idea. If you feel like you are experiencing some symptoms, take help from the online anhedonia quiz. These quizzes are made after considering symptoms and some other factors related to anhedonia. With this quiz’s help, you can have an idea, but still, you have to visit a doctor to make sure. There are several anhedonia test quizzes available online all you need is a good internet connection; answer these questions, and they will share results with you at the end of the questionnaire.

If you are wondering what type of questions are included in an anhedonia quiz, here is an example for you:

  • Are you less interested in things that you used to take pleasure in?
  • Do you find no joy from commonly pleasurable activities?
  • Does sex have no appeal to you anymore?
  • Do you want people to leave you alone?
  • Do you feel emotionally numb often?
  • Does nothing touch you on a personal level?
  • Do you feel hopeless most of the time?
  • Is it difficult for you to handle social situations?
  • Do you have a depressed mood all the time?
  • Do you feel unhappy?
  • Is it difficult for you to express a positive attitude?
  • Do you feel negative about yourself and others?
  • Do you feel difficulty in communicating with others?
  • Do you not feel excited anymore?

Anhedonia treatment

Even though I have mentioned some of the anhedonia symptoms, many mental conditions share these social anhedonia symptoms. There is not a clear way to know on your own that you have a certain mental condition or not. So when you experience any of these symptoms, visit a therapist or a doctor as they can guide you properly. For improving the quality of life, it is very important to take help from a professional.

A therapist or doctor will ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing for anhedonia. In addition to this, they will also ask about your psychiatric, medical, and social history. So do not hide anything from your doctor as it can affect your treatment. Hiding things will not prove helpful for the doctor and you too. It may lead to false diagnosis and also medication, which may not be good for your health.

Long untreated Anhedonia can harm you badly; it can also lead to some serious consequences like the use of alcohol, drugs, depression, social isolation, and in the end, even suicide. But seeking professional help can save you from this trauma. You can try on your own, but it is always better to ask and take help from someone who knows these things better than you.

Here are some suggested Anhedonia treatments:

Talking therapies

What is the best treatment of anhedonia? Well, Talking therapies or talking treatments involve counseling that can prove helpful in dealing with alexithymia. In this treatment, a person experiencing alexithymia will talk to highly trained professionals about how he feels or thinks and his behavior. The aims of talking therapies are as follows:

  • Making you able to recognize repeating patterns of your actions and thoughts and finding a way to change them
  • Helping you to resolve complicated feelings or to find a middle way to accept and live with them.
  • Helping you understand yourself better
  • Providing you with a safe place to talk about your fears and insecurities without passing any judgment

Medications

When therapy does not work, medication may be suggested by your doctor, for instance, antidepressants, based on the mental health condition. Bupropion anhedonia is an antidepressant mostly used in the treatment of anhedonia, which balances the dopamine level, which is associated with emotions of pleasure. Bupropion anhedonia is used mainly in the treatment of major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT is considered among  one of the most effective anhedonia treatments, especially in the case of depression. A few experts suggest that this treatment should be used in the early stages of depression when it is uncomplicated. Electrodes are placed on the head, and then an electric current is applied when the person is under the influence of general anesthesia. A relatively small brain seizure is induced as a result. ECT is commonly used when no other treatment works.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

This treatment utilizes the magnetic field for stimulating nerve cells. As compared to ECT, it utilizes smaller electric current intensity, and there is no need for general anesthesia. It is used in treating major depression when medication completely stops working.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

VNS is the final option when nothing works. The doctor will implant a pacemaker-like device in your chest. This device will create regular electric pulses for stimulating your brain.

ECT, TMS, and VNS can help in treating depression when no other treatment proves helpful.

Conclusion

Anhedonia can ruin your life and your relationship. You will search for your happiness but will not be able to find it. Once you understand the problem and seek help for treating it, you can bring your life back to track. I have tried my best to give you maximum and useful information regarding anhedonia; hope so this will prove helpful for you.  Call 03333443853 for a free consultation today.

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