What You Need to Know About Anhedonia - No Joy

lack of joy?

When a child gets a new toy, they may respond with sheer joy. That toy is always in their hands — until it’s not. One day, you may find it untouched for weeks behind the sofa. Adults are just as susceptible to such whims. They may become CrossFit fanatics and drive their friends nuts with tales from the gym.

The next thing you know, the fitness fad loses its appeal. Humans lose interest in things that once thrilled them. It’s normal and inevitable. But what if you derived no pleasure — ever — from activities meant to be pleasurable?

What is Anhedonia?

Anhedonia is a condition that takes away your ability to feel joy. Even if the activity was once something you craved and enjoyed, anhedonia can dull its effect in two general ways:

  • Physical anhedonia: As the name implies, this is about physical sensations. Take a bite from your favorite meal. Receive a hug from a cherished family member. Have an hour of mind-blowing sex. None of them cause you to experience joy.
  • Social anhedonia: In this version of the disorder, you derive no joy from spending time with other people — regardless of who they are.

In either case, anhedonia has a tendency to sap one’s energy and leave one in a chronic state of fatigue.

How Does Anhedonia Happen?

Our brains have a reward system. It works with various factors like:

  • Interest
  • Anticipation
  • Expectation
  • Motivation
  • Effort prediction

In other words, a person with anhedonia has the potential to enjoy a sip of their favorite wine. But if the reward system is not functioning, that sip is not processed as pleasurable. This could be related to how your brain process dopamine. This “feel-good” chemical is supposed to play a major role in the reward system. To oversimplify, if the anticipation is lost in translation, the joy will not follow. Some people call it “emotional flatlining.”

A Few More Things You Need to Know About Anhedonia

1. Possible Underlying Causes

Anhedonia is linked to mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. It’s also been reported in people with physical conditions like coronary artery disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

2. Another Depression Link

People with anhedonia respond differently to depression treatments. For example, popular anti-depressants may not work for those with depression and anhedonia.

3. Dangerous Related Risks

The inability to feel pleasure can lead some with anhedonia to engage in very risky behaviors. In more extreme cases, it can increase the risk of suicide.

4. Thought Disorders

As you might imagine, anhedonia is a disconcerting condition. It should come as no surprise that it can lead to thought disorders like:

  • Breaking off on tangents in conversations
  • Derailing discussions
  • Drawing illogical conclusions
  • Repetition
  • Stopping suddenly in the middle of a thought or sentence

5. Emotional Issues

Again, this is not at all a surprise. People with anhedonia have difficulty connecting with others and often display signs of emotional detachment.

What to Do If You Believe You May Have Anhedonia

This is no one dominant form of treatment for anhedonia. In fact, it most commonly is treated simultaneously with the above-mentioned mental health disorders. Also, if you are currently taking anti-depressants, it is crucial to find out if anhedonia is present.

So, the first step is to reach out to an experienced professional for a consultation. There are so many factors in play here and it’s never safe to self-diagnose when depression is a possibility. Get a diagnosis as soon as possible and then work with your therapist to create an appropriate treatment plan. Why not read more about anxiety and depression treatment and contact us today to set up a consultation to get your recovery process started?