By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 31, 2023
Anhedonia is defined as a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities as a result of a mental disorder or physical illness. It can also refer to difficulty experiencing pleasure from activities that are typically considered enjoyable, such as eating or spending time with friends.
Anhedonia’s Meaning In-depth
What is Anhedonia’s meaning? Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure or joy. It is a symptom of many physical and mental health conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder. Additionally, anhedonia can be experienced as a result of grief, traumatic events, or other psychological stresses. 
Anhedonia is also defined as the lack of pleasure or enjoyment from activities that typically bring someone joy. It is known as a pervasive symptom of depression and can make it hard for someone to experience joy or pleasure, no matter how much they enjoy the activity. Anhedonia can also be experienced as a lack of motivation, not feeling connected to relationships, or an inability to feel joy or pleasure.
Anhedonia’s Link to Mental Health Disorders
Anhedonia is closely linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. It is common among individuals who may be struggling with a mental health disorder and can be a symptom of depression. Anhedonia can also be seen in those who are recovering from traumatic experiences or who are going through emotional times.
Anhedonia can take many forms, including the loss of interest in activities that once gave pleasure, feeling completely flat and disconnected from things, losing motivation and enthusiasm, feeling numb and unable to experience joy, and feeling detached from other people. People with anhedonia may experience difficulties in emotional processing, increased negative thinking, and the inability to feel hope or optimism. Anhedonia is often accompanied by depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
What does Anhedonia mean? Anhedonia’s meaning refers to the reduced ability to have pleasure. It has been one of the common features of several types of psychiatric disorders and maladaptive behaviors. This condition has been the most extensively examined in major depression, but as it constitutes one important negative symptom of schizophrenia, much research has also been devoted to this condition in psychosis. This condition has been reviewed in many neuropsychiatric disorders, including substance use disorder, Parkinson’s disease, overeating, and various risky behaviors. 
Anhedonia can also have physical manifestations such as loss of appetite, body aches, and a general feeling of physical discomfort. People with anhedonia may also experience an overall loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, and an inability to enjoy things that were once pleasurable. In some cases, people with anhedonia may feel isolated from friends and family or feel unable to engage in meaningful conversations or activities with them.
When looking for the answers to how to help this condition, we sometimes ignore that we might have other mental health problems that need immediate treatment. Over time, it can damage relationships and affect your daily functioning. It can also lead to substance use in search of feeling “pleasure” once again.
2 Types Of Anhedonia
Generally speaking, there are two types of anhedonia. Social anhedonia and physical anhedonia. Social anhedonia involves the inability to enjoy activities and interactions with other people.
Physical anhedonia, on the other hand, involves the loss of pleasure or enjoyment in activities or experiences that do not involve other people or relationships.
The two main types of this condition are illustrated below with examples:
- Social Anhedonia – You don’t want to spend time with other people.
- Physical Anhedonia – You don’t enjoy physical sensations. For instance, an embrace does not stimulate you, and you feel empty with it. Your favorite dishes have a bland flavor. Even sex can become dull with sexual anhedonia.
Social anhedonia can manifest as difficulty in forming attachments to other people, avoiding or being anxious in social situations, a strong preference for being alone, and difficulty expressing emotions. Additionally, people experiencing social anhedonia may find it difficult to appreciate jokes or to be entertained by activities that involve other people. In terms of physical anhedonia, it involves difficulty in experiencing pleasure or enjoyment from activities such as eating, exercise, hobbies, or sexual activity.
Symptoms Of Anhedonia
People with symptoms of physical anhedonia may find that activity that once brought pleasure no longer generates positive feelings or emotions. They may struggle to feel motivated to engage in activities that they once enjoyed, and can often feel overwhelmed when thinking about engaging in them. They may also have difficulty understanding or appreciating things that might otherwise be enjoyable for other people. This can have a considerable impact on the person’s well-being and ability to form relationships with others.
Anhedonia symptoms include the following:
- Social withdrawal
- “Avolition Anhedonia” or a diminished pleasure emanating from daily activities
- A lack of relationships or a withdrawal from previous relationships
- Less of an interest in previous hobbies
- “Orgasmic Anhedonia” or a loss of libido or a lack of interest in physical intimacy
Anhedonia can typically be identified by a decrease in the ability to experience pleasure, initiate activities, withdrawal from social activities, and feelings of emptiness or hopelessness. Other signs of anhedonia may include difficulty finding joy in activities that used to bring pleasure, difficulty feeling motivation, and changes in appetite.
Symptoms of social anhedonia may include:
- Very few or no relationships at all
- Complete withdrawal from existing social relationships
- A diminished capability to express emotions
- Fake emotions in social situations (e.g., pretending to be happy at a celebration)
- Preference for being alone
Symptoms of physical anhedonia may include:
- A complete loss of libido (ejaculatory anhedonia) or interest in sexual interactions
- Frequent illness or other physical health issues
Physical anhedonia is closely related to depression. Individuals with severe anhedonia may experience difficulty in social situations, feelings of worthlessness, and a depressed mood that has lasted for several weeks. In these cases, it is imperative to seek professional help in order to seek help in dealing with the condition. Without the support of a professional, anhedonia may become more difficult to treat moving forward.
Physical anhedonia can be especially difficult to manage when the individual also experiences other forms of mental illness such as anxiety or depression. In these cases, it is important that the individual seek help from a mental health professional in order to effectively manage the condition. Treatment options for anhedonia may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and/or medications. Regardless of the person’s treatment choice, it is important that the individual seek professional help in order to ensure proper management of the condition.
Treatments for anhedonia typically include a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is commonly used to help individuals recognize and modify the negative thoughts and behaviors associated with anhedonia. Medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers may also be recommended. Finally, engaging in enjoyable activities, practicing relaxation techniques, and increasing physical activity can all be helpful in managing anhedonia.
How to cope with anhedonia? Even though this condition may indicate a severe mental health disorder, it’s crucial to avoid self-diagnosis.
It’s important to recognize that anhedonia is a common issue and can be treated with professional help. Self-help strategies, such as talking to a friend or maintaining an active lifestyle, can also play an important role in managing anhedonia. Additionally, since anhedonia can be a symptom of an underlying mental health issue, it’s important to seek professional help if symptoms persist.
What is the Meaning of Anhedonia?
It is a severe condition that describes a near-complete absence of enjoyment, motivation, and interest. A core feature of depression, clinical manifestations of this condition can include deficits in experiencing pleasure, approach-related motivated behavior, and learning to match expectations to the environment. 
Anhedonia Definition – In-depth
Anhedonia can manifest itself in many forms, from difficulty finding enjoyment in activities such as sports or hobbies to a lack of emotional connection in social situations to an inability to find pleasure or satisfaction in activities or conversations. While it is a common symptom of depression, which can be treated with the right kind of care, even people without depression can experience anhedonia.
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Anhedonia Facts Sheet
Also Known As: Lack Of Pleasure
Anhedonia What Is It? Anhedonia Meaning.
Anhedonia is a condition in which a person is unable to experience pleasure from activities that would normally bring them joy. It is commonly associated with depression, but can also be associated with other mental health issues such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Moreover, Anhedonia is a psychological condition stemming from depression that can also be a symptom of other mental health issues such as schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Anhedonia can also be caused by a variety of different sources, ranging from physical illnesses or medications to traumatic experiences to genetic predispositions. People experiencing anhedonia often feel that they cannot enjoy anything and feel like genuine pleasure is out of reach. They may have difficulty engaging in activities that used to bring them joy, or talking about topics that used to be interesting. Anhedonia can also lead to loss of motivation, difficulty in sleeping, and difficulty in concentrating.
Seek Immediate Assistance If You:
- Have suicidal ideas.
- May cause injury to oneself or others.
An inability to enjoy activities that one would normally find delightful.
Signs & Symptoms
It is the incapacity to experience joy. It’s a typical sign of sadness and other mental health conditions. Most individuals are aware of what pleasure is.
In addition, Loren and Jean Chapman made a distinction between two types of this condition: social anhedonia and physical anhedonia, or a loss in the capacity to enjoy interpersonal pleasure.
Set Up A Consultation With A Physician If You:
- Experiencing depressive symptoms.
There are factors other than underlying sickness that can contribute to a lack of pleasure. Overwork, a recent tragedy, money issues, unfavorable weather, and monotonous activities are a few examples.
It is a prevalent symptom of depressive disorders and substance use disorders is the lack of the ability to experience pleasure. It might be brought on by a decline in activity in the ventral striatum, a part of the brain associated with motivation and rewards.
As soon as possible, speak with your doctor or a mental health professional if you are experiencing this condition.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 5.3 million American adults suffer from anhedonia. Additionally, research from the World Health Organization finds that an estimated 250 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and anhedonia is a potential symptom of this condition.
Additionally, about 70% of individuals with serious depressive conditions experience this condition. A person experiencing this condition can be diagnosed with depression even if they don’t have a low or depressed mood because it is a key sign of major depressive disorder.
About 70% of individuals with serious depressive illnesses experience this condition.
With 1 billion individuals affected annually, or 16% to 19% of the world’s population, mental diseases are a major source of disability.
1 In 5
In any given year, 1 in 5 Americans will suffer from a mental disease.
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Causes Of Anhedonia
What causes anhedonia? Unfortunately, what specifically causes this condition is unknown. According to studies, this condition causes could be intimately related to some mental functions. Researchers discovered that “depression anhedonia” frequently involves the area of the brain that manages motivation, anticipation, decision-making, and rewards. 
They postulated that individuals living with this condition might be incapable of motivating themselves and anticipating positive outcomes. They also struggle with appropriately estimating the amount of work necessary to obtain a certain reward. This condition is connected to several mental health conditions. It is regarded as one of the main characteristics of depression. Moreover, physical and social anhedonia are frequently reported by those with schizophrenia.
This condition has been linked to bipolar disorder depression, according to research. Doctors use the degree of anhedonia to measure the severity of a patient’s bipolar condition. Furthermore, symptoms like anhedonia may happen when using recreational drugs or going through withdrawal. Additionally, studies have shown that those with this condition may be more inclined to begin using recreational substances. They might also be more prone to develop addictions. 
Risk Factors For Anhedonia
Anhedonia risk factors include a family history of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Females are at a heightened risk of suffering from this condition. Other risk factors include:
- Eating disorders
- A history of abuse or neglect
- Recent trauma and heightened stress
- Major illnesses
If you have been diagnosed with depression or schizophrenia, there is an increased risk of developing this condition. Living with PTSD from a traumatic event or events may put you at risk of this condition. 
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Anhedonia vs Avolition
- “Affective flattening alogia avolition and anhedonia are all negative symptoms of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.” The main difference between avolition and anhedonia is avolition is a total lack of motivation that makes it hard to get anything done. In comparison, this condition refers to losing the ability to feel pleasure.
Apathy vs Anhedonia
- To differentiate the difference between anhedonia vs apathy. First, this condition is distinct from apathy. While apathy refers to a lack of motivation or energy investment on many levels, this condition is the lack of a specific feeling: pleasure. It can, however, be a sign of apathy.
- ADHD can cause intense sadness, loneliness, and a lack of interest in life activities. People with ADHD and anhedonia may be more likely than others to develop depression and anxiety. One reason it is important to seek ADHD and anhedonia treatments is that therapy may help reduce the risk of complications, such as depression.
- Depression is also a serious mental illness. It causes persistent sadness and hopelessness along with this condition, the inability to find pleasure in anything. During episodes of depression, you may also have changes in sleep and how you eat, feel anxious or restless, and have difficulty concentrating. Depression can make you feel worthless and guilty and drain your energy.
- This condition is a hallmark feature of depression and is highly prevalent among individuals with bipolar mood disorders. 
- BPD is a disruptive, difficult condition that often occurs along with other mental health disorders and anhedonia. Many people with BPD also have depression. The co-occurrence complicates each condition and can make symptoms worse.
- This condition is a common symptom following exposure to traumatic stress and a feature of the PTSD diagnosis. In depression research, this condition has been linked to deficits in reward functioning, reflected in behavioral and neural responses. 
- This is a condition that wipes your ability to enjoy or have pleasure. This mental health condition is often associated with schizophrenia, which can negatively impact a person’s quality of life.
- This condition can manifest in various ways, from physical to social apathy. This condition can look like behavior you may not immediately associate with this condition.
- Schizophrenia is a mental health condition characterized by hallucinations, disordered thinking, delusions, and reduced social participation. Schizophrenia is a complex and typically lifelong condition, and this condition is considered one of its negative symptoms of it.
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Anhedonia And Relationships
This condition in relationships can be harmful. When someone with this condition can’t tell another person they care about them or enjoy spending time with them, the relationship can be damaged. For romantic relationships, the loss of libido common in physical anhedonia will take a significant toll on the couple. For instance, “sexual anhedonia male” is the experience of normal ejaculation without pleasure or orgasm.
Ejaculatory anhedonia causes may be associated with depression, fatigue, physical illness, hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), hypogonadism, hyperprolactinemia, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or during or after cessation of SSRI antidepressants or antipsychotics. Ejaculatory anhedonia treatment, also known as sexual anhedonia treatment, can include Dopamine agonists (drugs that increase dopamine), oxytocin, phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, and alpha-2 receptor blockers like yohimbine hydrochloride are medications that may help with orgasm function.
Note that social anhedonia differs from social anxiety. It’s not that you have fear associated with social situations, but rather that you fail to feel any joy or excitement around spending time with others. Symptoms or warning signs of social anhedonia include:
- Disinterest in spending time with friends or family
- Lack of interest in participating in social activities or groups that you once loved
- Shrinking of your social world because it’s stopped giving you joy
- Lack of emotion and emotional expression, which can result in a flat affect or in putting on fake emotions for the sake of others
- Overall social withdrawal
According to the CDC, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the global disease burden.  One of the most common depressive anhedonia quotes says, “Everything else just kept picking and picking, hacking away. And nothing was interesting, nothing. The people were restrictive and careful, all alike. And I’ve got to live with these for the rest of my life, I thought.” ― Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye.
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How Is Anhedonia Treated?
This condition, or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, is characteristic of depression, some types of anxiety, as well as substance abuse, and schizophrenia. This condition predicts poor long-term outcomes, including suicide and poor treatment response.
The good news is that combining therapy and anhedonia treatment medications is usually the most effective treatment for anhedonia and depression. Anhedonia medication and anhedonia supplements that alter how the brain processes rewards are especially helpful with the symptoms. Moreover, some people also experience an improvement with lifestyle changes. For example, meditation, dietary changes, and better time management may help some people experience greater satisfaction.
Best Medication for Anhedonia
While selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the medications of the first choice for depression and anhedonia, other drugs are also available. Amphetamines such as Dexedrine act on dopamine and are particularly effective in people with chronic anhedonia due to treatment-resistant depression.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for patients with MDD. It effectively treats this condition, a core symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD) resulting from maladaptive reward processing. 
Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT for short, is a treatment that involves sending an electric current through your brain, causing a brief surge of electrical activity within your brain. The treatment aims to relieve the symptoms of some mental health problems, particularly when accompanied by detachment from reality (psychosis), a desire to commit suicide, or refusal to eat. It also helps improve treatment-resistant depression, a severe depression that doesn’t improve with medications or other treatments.
Overcoming MDD isn’t easy, but symptoms can be treated with medication and therapy.
The most common medications used to treat people with MDD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). In addition, some people may be prescribed tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), but these drugs aren’t used as extensively as they once were. These medications increase levels of certain brain chemicals that result in a decrease in depressive symptoms.
SSRIs are a type of antidepressant medication that people may take with MDD. Examples of SSRIs include:
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
SSRIs may cause headaches, nausea, and insomnia at first. However, these side effects usually go away after a short period.
SNRIs are another type of antidepressant medication that can treat people with MDD. Examples of SNRIs include:
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
In some cases, TCAs might be used as a treatment method for people with MDD. Examples of TCAs include:
- Trimipramine (Surmontil)
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
The side effects of TCAs can sometimes be more severe than those from other antidepressants. TCAs may cause drowsiness, dizziness, and weight gain. Carefully read the information provided by the pharmacy and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns. The medication usually needs to be taken for a minimum of four to six weeks before symptoms begin to improve. Sometimes, it can take up to 12 weeks to improve symptoms.
If a particular medication doesn’t seem to work, talk to your provider about switching to another drug. According to the National Institute of Mental Health  (NAMI), people who didn’t get better after taking their first antidepressant medication had a much better chance of improving when they tried another drug or a combination of treatments.
Even when symptoms begin to improve, you should continue taking your medication. It would be best if you stopped taking medication under the provider’s supervision who prescribed it. You may have to stop the drug gradually instead of all at once. Suddenly stopping an antidepressant can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of MDD can also return if your exogenous and endogenous depression treatment is ended too soon.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, involves meeting with a therapist regularly. This therapy can help you cope with your condition and related issues. The two main types of psychotherapy are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). CBT can help you replace negative beliefs with healthy, positive ones. You can improve your brain’s response to negative situations by deliberately practicing positive thinking and limiting negative thoughts. IPT may help you work through troubling relationships contributing to your condition.
In most cases, a combination of medication and therapy effectively treats people with MDD.
3. Lifestyle Changes
Adjustments to your lifestyle and everyday activities can also help improve symptoms of endogenous depression. Even if the activities aren’t enjoyable, your body and mind will adapt over time. Here are some things to try:
- How to treat anhedonia? Go outside and do something active, such as hiking or biking.
- Participate in activities that you enjoyed before you became depressed.
- Spend time with other people, including friends and loved ones.
- Write in a journal.
- How to deal with anhedonia effectively? Get at least six hours of sleep each night.
- Maintain a healthy diet that consists of whole grains, lean protein, and vegetables.
Anhedonia Treatment at Home
How to fix anhedonia? This condition can be challenging to treat at home. In many cases, treatment starts with tools to help you manage the mental health issue that’s likely causing the symptom, such as depression and schizophrenia. The first step in your treatment should be seeking the help of a medical professional. A primary care professional should be your first choice to rule out a medical cause of your symptoms. If they don’t find any medical issues, they may recommend you see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.
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How To Overcome Anhedonia?
Looking for effective ways how to get out of anhedonia? As a mental health treatment center, we understand that coping with anhedonia can be problematic, especially with your relationships and daily living. The We Level Up FL primary mental health center stands ready to help. We Level Up FL can inspire a support system through our mental health treatments to make you feel valuable. You can trust the treatment backed by leading recovery specialists practicing evidence-based therapy. We Level Up FL Treatment Center offers therapy under one roof. Dealing with anhedonia can be easier with comprehensive treatment for the mind, body & spirit.
Call us now for a free mental health assessment! In addition, for the substance abuse or dual diagnosis approach, our inpatient treatment, inpatient medical detox, and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility. For more anhedonia treatment resources, call us about your symptoms, and we can help you determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.
We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing mental health information and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.
Top 10 Anhedonia FAQs
Is Anhedonia permanent?
No. With the help of a trained mental health professional, treating anhedonia effectively is possible.
How long does Anhedonia last?
For some people, episodes of anhedonia fade after a few hours or days. For others, they can last weeks. But with time, anhedonia symptoms don’t last as long and don’t happen as often.
“Do I have Anhedonia?”
Anhedonia is a common symptom of depression. It can show up in your life as apathy, a lack of interest, and a loss of enjoyment.
How to stop Anhedonia?
Can you get rid of anhedonia? Yes. Often, the ways that you treat depression are also used as the cure for anhedonia.
What is the best treatment for Anhedonia?
A combination of therapy and psychoactive drugs is usually the most effective treatment of anhedonia and depression.
How to help someone with Anhedonia?
One of the treatments for anhedonia is anhedonia treatment dopamine receptors restoration. You can do it simply by changing your lifestyle. Try to incorporate fun activities into your daily routine.
How to pronounce Anhedonia?
Anhedonia pronounces as an·hee·dow·nee·uh. Along with anhedonia pronunciation, the anhedonia synonyms may include grief, misery, sadness, sorrow, and distress. Another meaning of anhedonia is melancholy.
How to define Anhedonia?
Anhedonia defined: Anhedonia definition derived from the Greek an-, “without,” and hēdonē, “pleasure”. To better understand “anhedonia meaning,” other similar terms are grief, misery, sadness, sorrow, woe, distress, dysphoria, etc.
Is Anhedonia common today?
You’ll see a lot of anhedonia music, anhedonia memes, anhedonia Reddit discussions, and Reddit anhedonia topics online. Furthermore, music anhedonia can oddly comfort those people with depression, it gives you an idea you’re not alone even though you’re not feeling like it. Silent Planet Anhedonia lyrics also state, “What lies inside the memories? Somewhere beneath the medicines that plagiarized my sleep. They try… they try to keep me numb.”
What is “Ashwagandha Anhedonia?”
Some are trying the musical anhedonia test to check why they don’t like listening to music. However, “social anhedonia test free online” cannot determine if you have underlying medical issues. Speaking to a professional mental health professional can. If you’re looking for “anhedonia que es” depression, schizophrenia, etc., your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and general mood. They may also ask if you have a history of using substances such as illegal drugs or taking any medications that have side effects causing anhedonia. For instance, consuming Ashwagandha, a medicinal herb, can cause anhedonia.
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