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Anhedonia - Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.

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Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities caused due to problems with the reward center in the brain.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vishal Anilkumar Gandhi

Published At October 17, 2022
Reviewed AtApril 24, 2023

What Is Anhedonia?

Anhedonia is a psychological condition in which a person does not feel pleasure from normally pleasurable activities. Anhedonia means "without pleasure." This is a condition where an individual loses interest in the activities they previously enjoyed. Anhedonia is a core symptom of major depressive disorders. Lack of motivation can be one of the causes of Anhedonia; therefore, it is very common for a person to experience Anhedonia and apathy simultaneously.

What Are Types of Anhedonia?

Anhedonia can be classified based on the aspect of life it affects rather than general.

Types of Anhedonia Are as Follows:

  • Sexual Anhedonia- Sexual Anhedonia is also termed orgasmic anhedonia, ejaculatory anhedonia, or pleasure dissociative orgasmic dysfunction (PDOD). In this type of anhedonia, a person fails to experience pleasure during sexual climax. It is mainly associated with stress and hormonal imbalance.

  • Social Anhedonia- This is a type of anhedonia where a person does not feel the pleasure of meeting friends or people; this is commonly seen in people who are introverts or have schizophrenia; some studies have related it to brain abnormalities where a person fails to understand or read facial expressions that make the meetings least interesting for them.

  • Musical Anhedonia- This type of anhedonia is when a person does not enjoy music; this is mainly because of the disconnection in the reward and auditory centers in the brain.

What Are the Symptoms of Anhedonia?

Anhedonia is usually presented as follows:

  • Social withdrawal.

  • Loss of libido.

  • Disinterest in the activities one enjoyed previously.

  • Disengaging in relationships.

  • Depression.

What Causes Anhedonia?

Anhedonia is caused mainly due to issues in the chemistry and functioning of brain reward centers that are commonly responsible for the feeling of pleasure.

Anhedonia is commonly associated with many other mental disorders, presenting as a core symptom of the disease.

Such disorders include:

In all the above-mentioned disorders, anhedonia is presented, which is most likely due to the absence or inappropriate amount of dopamine. This chemical substance triggers and regulates the reward center in the brain. As the reward center in the brain is not triggered and regulated, a person fails to experience a pleasure that ultimately affects an individual's personal, physical, social, and mental life.

What Are the Examples of Anhedonia?

  1. A game like a tennis that was your favorite no longer interests you.

  2. Previously going to a concert was the most exciting thing, but it does not feel like happening anymore.

  3. Hanging out with friends is no longer interesting.

  4. Spending time with a partner becomes boring.

  5. Reading books that you enjoyed previously is not on your list anymore.

  6. Previously you loved cooking, but you must be reminded of having food these days.

  7. Sexual activities that you enjoyed before are no longer exciting.

How Is Anhedonia Treated?

Anhedonia can be difficult to treat as it may go unnoticed; when diagnosed. Anhedonia is treated with a multidisciplinary approach where the primary health physician is the first point of approach, which refers to further specialists if and when needed. Treatment mainly aims at altering the function of the reward center in the brain that can help an individual experience pleasure.

Treatment Modalities Include:

  • Psychotherapy- An individual is referred to a psychotherapist where counseling is done, and the person is guided in a way to regain interest in the live events.

  • Medical Treatment- It includes drugs used to treat various psychiatric disorders.

Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, Amphetamine, and other antidepressants are considered drugs of choice. However, these drugs act and affect differently for different individuals so it is important that a person reports and visits the doctor at regular intervals and has medications on time as prescribed.

If any side effects of the drugs are noted should not be ignored and must seek immediate medical help.

  • Lifestyle Modifications- Various lifestyle modifications like diet, exercise, and meditation can also help some people as a routine can be pleasurable to some and these activities like exercise and meditation also help reduce stress.

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT Therapy)- It is the most recent treatment modality used when a person is given a brain seizure under general anesthesia called electroconvulsive. Experts advised it to be used earlier during the treatment to be more effective.

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)- This type of treatment is based on using a magnetic field to stimulate brain cells. The current generated and used in TMS is less in comparison to ECT therapy. TMS need not be done under general anesthesia. It is commonly used in patients who do not respond to medicinal treatment.

  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)- It is another treatment option used in patients with depression who do not respond to other treatments. The procedure for this treatment is placing an impulse-generating device similar to a pacemaker in the chest that would produce impulses at regular intervals and stimulate the brain. VNS is also used when other treatment methods are ineffective.

Conclusion:

Anhedonia is a medical condition where a reward center in the brain functions abnormally or does not function to its fullest potential, which is why people stop experiencing pleasure from the activities that they enjoyed or found pleasurable earlier, like going out with friends, sexual activities, reading books, or playing any sport. Although Anhedonia is considered the core symptom of depression and a person seems to be lazy all the time, such individuals require medical help and can be treated with the help of various therapies, medications, and lifestyle modifications, treatment in such individuals mainly aims at stimulating reward centers in the brain.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Which Treatment Is Considered Best for Anhedonia?

The best treatment for anhedonia may be a combination of both therapy and psychoactive drugs. Medications alter the brain processes that help in anhedonia. Other lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes and better time management, may also help people experience a satisfaction.

2.

Is Anhedonia a Mental Disease?

Anhedonia is a reduced interest in activities that a person used to enjoy. Along with that decreased ability to feel pleasure in certain activities. Anhedonia is the primary symptom of a major depressive disorder and can also be a symptom of other such disorders.

3.

Can Anhedonia Be Cured?

To date, there has been no treatment for anhedonia. The treatment involves getting rid of the underlying condition, such as depression. However, at the start of the treatment, the patient usually starts to feel pleasure and happiness again.

4.

What Drugs Can Cause Anhedonia?

Anhedonia can commonly be found in patients with an addiction to certain substances. It can also occur in patients facing withdrawal symptoms as and when they stop taking certain harmful substances like alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, and certain other stimulants.

5.

How Much Time Does Anhedonia Take To Be Cured?

 
Anhedonia is linked to patients who are abusers of certain harmful substances like alcohol or cocaine. Therefore people recovering from addiction take around 3 to 12 months to get rid of their addiction completely, and the patient also starts to feel more active and happy.

6.

What Antidepressants Can Be Used for Anhedonia?

Anhedonia is a symptom usually linked with underlying conditions such as depression. Therefore the treatment involves treating this condition with antidepressant drugs such as -
- Agomelatine. 
- Bupropion. 
- Venlafaxine. 
- Fluoxetine. 
- Amitifadine. 
- Levomilnacipran. 
- Escitalopram. 
Ketamine.

7.

Can Stress Lead To Anhedonia?

Stress is a type of change that affects the physical, emotional, and psychological behavior of the patient. In addition, stress alters the reward processing in humans, which can be linked to the anhedonic behavior of an individual.

8.

What Part of the Brain Does Anhedonia Affect?

Anhedonia is a common symptom of a depressive disorder. It leads to a loss of ability to feel pleasure in activities the patient likes the most. It affects the ventral striatum part of the brain, which is responsible for reward and motivational behavior.

9.

What Can Be Described as Anhedonia Behavior?

Anhedonia behavior is a severe condition characterized by an absence of enjoyment, motivation, and interest. It is the primary feature of depression, and clinical features include a deficiency in feeling pleasure or motivated behavior.

10.

Can Anhedonia Be Treated Naturally?

The most important therapy for any mental disorder is mental or emotional support. This includes talking with the patient and having a physical connection, like hugs. Along with that getting the essential nutrients can also help in treating this condition.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Vishal Anilkumar Gandhi
Dr. Vishal Anilkumar Gandhi

Psychiatry

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