A person who develops anhedonia loses interest in activities which they used to appreciate before like riding bicycles, cooking, dancing, and hugging. The activities which once used to be enjoyable are no longer enjoyed in anhedonia. This may be a sign of major depressive disorder, but it could also be a manifestation of different mental health conditions. Many people who have anhedonia don’t necessarily have an underlying mental disease.
The two main types of anhedonia are:
Social anhedonia is a condition where the person has lost interest in social contact along with a lack of joy in the social environment. Social anhedonia can be a symptom of schizophrenia-spectrum conditions. Social anhedonia is seen in teenagers, maybe due to the development of neuronal and synaptic pruning of brain regions which is needed for significant social behavior and environmental changes.
Physical anhedonia: People don’t appreciate physical emotions in this type. Physical anhedonia causes a person to lack the ability to feel joys such as eating, playing, or sex. Anhedonia causes problems in relationships, including those with friends, colleagues and family members.
What are the reasons for anhedonia?
Anhedonia is a general feature of depression, and many but not all who are depressed experience it. There are many conditions that cause anhedonia such as treatment with antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Studies have found that anhedonia may be linked to alterations in brain pathways that control how we look out for rewards and experience.
The condition also affects people suffering from other mental conditions, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Anhedonia can also be seen in people with other health issues like substance abuse, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s disease.
What are the risk factors for anhedonia?
- A family history of major depression or schizophrenia has an increased risk of anhedonia.
- A recent traumatic or difficult event.
- A person who abuses a substance.
- A disease that impacts your aspect of life.
- A chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s.
- A person who has an eating disorder.
- Females have a higher risk of anhedonia.
How to diagnose anhedonia?
The physician will ask questions about symptoms and mood disorders. Telling the physician about all of the symptoms will help them to make a diagnosis.
The physician will do a physical exam to see if the patient has any organic issues. The doctor may also ask for blood tests to find out if a vitamin deficiency or a thyroid problem might be the cause of the mood change.
How can anhedonia be treated?
First, the person should go to a primary care provider to solve this condition. If the physician doesn’t find any medical problem, they will suggest seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professionals. The primary care provider can suggest a therapist. The individual and therapist must have a good connection.
There is a lot of research going on for new medications for people with anhedonia who are not improving with current medications and therapy. The treatment includes prescription drugs such as mood stabilizers.
Researchers have found out that Ketamine, a drug usually known for being a party drug is the most useful treatment for anhedonia.
Another treatment that can be applied in some cases is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT is one of the most useful options for severe unresponsive depression.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) helps by using a magnetic field to stimulate the nerve cells. It uses a smaller electric current compared to others.
The final treatment method is vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). The physician with the help of a specialized device will deliver electrical stimuli to stimulate the brain of the patient. ECT and TMS, VNS are used for people who have a mood disorder that cannot be treated by other medications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can anhedonia ever be cured?
Medications can cure anhedonia, so following up with a physician will make you able to feel joy again.
Does working out benefit anhedonia?
A person suffering from anhedonia no longer gains happiness from day-to-day tasks. They may feel tired from a strenuous workout.
Does PTSD cause anhedonia symptoms?
After exposure to traumatic stress, anhedonia can be a problem. Generally, by treating the post-traumatic stress disorder the symptom anhedonia should also subside.