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do you feel anhedonia [stencil]

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anhedonia

 

In psychology and psychiatry, anhedonia (< Greek ἀν- an-, "without" + ἡδονή hēdonē, "pleasure") is an inability to experience pleasurable emotions from normally pleasurable life events such as eating, exercise, social interaction or sexual activities.

 

Anhedonia is seen in the mood disorders schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizoid personality disorder and other mental disorders.

 

Researchers theorize that anhedonia may result from the breakdown in the brain's reward system, involving dopamine pathways. Two 2005 studies by Paul Keedwell MD of King's College found that certain sections of the brain in depressed subjects had to work harder to process happy thoughts.

 

Anhedonia is often experienced by drug addicts following withdrawal; in particular, stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines cause anhedonia and depression by depleting dopamine and other important neurotransmitters. Very long-term addicts are sometimes said to suffer a permanent physical breakdown of their pleasure pathways, leading to anhedonia on a permanent or semi-permanent basis due to the extended overworking of the neural pleasure pathways during active addiction, particularly as regards to cocaine and methamphetamine. In this circumstance, activities still may be pleasurable, but can never be as pleasurable to people who have experienced the comparatively extreme pleasure of the drug experience. The result is apathy towards healthy routines by the addict.

 

Anhedonia may also be an effect of prolonged fatigue.

 

Significance in depression

As a clinical symptom in depression, anhedonia rates highly in making a diagnosis of this disorder. The DSM describes a "lack of interest or pleasure" but these can be hard to tell apart given that people become less interested in things which do not give them pleasure. The DSM criterion of weight loss is probably related to it and many depressed people with this symptom describe a lack of enjoyment of food.

   

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Taken on November 3, 2010