Anhedonia: Symptoms and Treatment

Anhedonia

Anhedonia is referred to as the reduced ability or unwillingness to experience pleasure the way others do. That is, it is the diminished ability to experience joy or disinterest in engaging in pleasurable activities.

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It can also be described as reduced anticipatory pleasure (the will to want), diminished consummatory pleasure (the intention to like or show interest, and lack of interest in learning).

Anhedonia can be classified as a form of depression, personality disorder, psychotic disorder and substance-related disorder and it can be classified into two main types which include the social and the physical Anhedonia.

Social Anhedonia is referred to as when one is indifferent in a social situation and social activities, while The Physical Anhedonia is a lack of interest to feel tactile pleasures such that includes touching, eating, sleeping and sometimes even sex.

There are times a person would lose interest in engaging in fun activities, but this is not due to a form of unknown depression or sadness. They merely might want to get serious by getting a job done, sleep, think or yet again might not be in the mood.

However, in a case where a chronic form of moodiness is present, quick measures should be taken into consideration to note if what the person is dealing with isn’t in fact anhedonia.

Anhedonia

How would you know if what you have is Anhedonia?

What are the symptoms of Anhedonia?

  1. Uneasiness around people or social gatherings
  2. Unexplained depression
  3. Mood swings
  4. Social withdrawal
  5. Unpleasant feelings towards yourself
  6. Problem adjusting to social situations
  7. Lack of interest in physical intimacy, this includes strong disinterest in sex
  8. Weak immune system
  9. Depression and anxiety

Anhedonia can be caused by prescription medication such as antidepressants and antipsychotics that are used to treat depression and anxiety.

Anhedonia can be linked to individuals with the Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD, major depressive disorder, substance-related disorder, Parkinson’s disease, anorexia, insomnia and depression.

What are the effects of Anhedonia on a sufferer?

  1. There is an increased chance of a person to suffer from anhedonia if there is a history of anhedonia in the family and the risk of it being passed to the next generation is equally great.
  2. Since anhedonia is the disinterest in things pertaining to pleasure, one might develop an eating disorder.
  3. Low immunity to sickness.
  4. Mood swings as a person suffering from anhedonia would be irritated by many things.
  5. The general weakness of the body and lack of physical, mental, social and psychological spontaneity.

How is Anhedonia diagnosed?

Typically, tests are being carried out by a medical professional to determine if in fact, one is suffering from Anhedonia by asking about noticeable symptoms and general analysis of a patient.

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Blood samples would be taken to test for Vitamin deficiency, and in other cases, thyroid problems as these may pose a mood problem.

Treatment

  • Treatments for anhedonia can very difficult but not impossible. The idea is to first treat the symptom of the mental disorder. Symptom such as depression and anxiety but it is highly advised that someone suffering from anhedonia must quickly see a professional for advice as early treatment is paramount. Medications could be started with prescriptions.
  • Social supports also play a vital role in the treatment of social anhedonia through social support systems. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist who would guide you in dealing with this rare form of depression before it gets out of hands. The key is to be fully open for treatment to be effective. This means, no information should be withheld as every detail is important.
  • Another form of treatment is the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which is one of the most effective treatments for depression, experts advised. This is done by placing electrodes on the head, and Electrical current is being released while the person unconscious usually from general anaesthesia. ECT is usually only advised when other treatments fail.
  • The use of implanting a medical device similar to a pacemaker in the chest also has another known treatment and this method is known as Vagus nerve Stimulation. The wires from this device create electrical impulses that stimulate the brain. This also an alternative treatment when other treatments fail just like the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
  • The TMS is known as the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and just as the name implies, this procedure is the use of the magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells, and it uses a smaller amount of electrical current unlike the ECT, and general anaesthesia isn’t necessary. TMS is also used to treat major depression in people.

It is highly imperative that individuals with signs of social and physical withdrawals without a valid reason shouldn’t hesitate to visit a professional as Anhedonia could lead to other forms of mental illnesses and higher health risk.

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there or it isn’t real. Get help.

Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.