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What Is Anhedonia?

Anhedonia describes a reduced ability to feel pleasure and a decreased interest in activities a person once enjoyed. It’s a key symptom of major depressive disorder. However, it’s also sometimes a symptom of other mental health conditions. Not all individuals who experience anhedonia have a diagnosed mental health condition. Those who struggle with anhedonia lose interest in the experiences, hobbies, or activities they once loved. According to the American Psychological Association, anhedonia is often associated with depressive disorder. However, it is also often tied to other mental health conditions. These mental health conditions include schizophrenia.¹ Anhedonia is also frequently seen among individuals who have experienced trauma, as well as in those with²:

  • Eating disorders

  • Substance abuse issues

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

It’s also associated with chronic health conditions such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.³

Types Of Anhedonia

Anhedonia is often divided into two types: physical and social. Physical Anhedonia: This describes an individual’s inability to experience pleasure from physical things where they usually would feel joy. This includes engaging in sexual interactions, touching a loved one, and eating.

  • Social Anhedonia: This has to do with social situations. It results in a reduced interest in social interaction and decreased pleasure from engaging in a social situation.

Symptoms Of Anhedonia

Anhedonia symptoms depend on the type. For instance, social anhedonia symptoms may include:

  • Withdrawing entirely from existing social relationships

  • Very few relationships or none at all

  • Preferring to be alone

  • Faking emotions while in social situations (i.e., pretending to be happy at a social event or celebration)

  • A reduced ability to express emotions

Physical anhedonia symptoms may include:

  • Frequent physical health problems or illness

  • A total loss of interest in sexual interactions or libido

An individual with anhedonia may not maintain social connections. They may skip significant life events when they are struggling. They may have a loss of social relations or have strained relationships.



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