What is Anhedonia Depression?
In talking about clinical depression, the first symptom I would like you to consider, which is a very common symptom of the illness is called anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to experience pleasure.
Anhedonia: What is Dopamine Activity?
One thing that we see in people with depression is that there is significant reduction in their brains of dopamine activity. Dopamine is a brain chemical called a neurotransmitter. It is associated with feelings of pleasure and excitement. When dopamine activity is reduced, the person is correspondingly unable to feel much pleasure or excitement about the world.
Anhedonia as Symptom of Depression
This is the first major symptom of depression that I’d like you to think about. A person suffering from clinical depression typically doesn’t enjoy doing anything, even and most strikingly activities that they previously loved to do so.
Let’s suppose that I love building model train sets for the sake of argument. If I’m in the midst of a clinical depression, I won’t enjoy doing it anymore. So, one question to ask yourself is,
Do I take pleasure in things anymore?
People suffering from depression who are experiencing this symptom of anhedonia lose interest in things. They don’t enjoy good food, going to a movie, their favorite hobbies, or watching sports.
Anhedonia: Not Feeling Pleasure in Activities
All of the things that the individual used to delight in no longer give them any pleasure. This even includes activities that just about everybody delights, things such as having sex, playing with your children, and going for a walk on a beautiful sunny day, activities that everybody seems to enjoy that are just sort of woven into our DNA to enjoy them.
When you’re suffering from anhedonia, you are unable to experience pleasure and activities that you used to delight in, they no longer bring you any satisfaction.
What is the Difference Among Feeling Sad & Anhedonia?
This is not the case if you’re feeling sad. If a person is feeling sad, which is a normal healthy human emotion, sadness does not ordinarily diminish one’s ability to enjoy things. So, a person might be feeling really sad. They take comfort in a good meal. They take comfort in going to a movie with a friend. They can also take comfort in playing with their children.
There is no comfort in depression. When a person is suffering from depression, a good meal, going out to a movie with a friend, playing with one’s children, all of these activities are meaningless and they give you no comfort or satisfaction.
Do I Enjoy Anything Anymore?
Anhedonia typically goes on and on and on – to the point where the person starts to wonder, “Do I enjoy anything anymore?” It’s not just a manifestation of a temporary state. It sometimes becomes an overwhelming character trait. Anhedonia is very frightening and people who experience it, other people see them as being almost like zombies or the Walking Dead.
So, the first symptom of anhedonia is depression. Anhedonia is an inability to experience pleasure. It is not normal, nor should it be expected as a part of life that you don’t take any pleasure in doing anything anymore.
Even in the midst of sorrow, sadness, and discouragement, there should always be something that gives us some consolation, some solace, or comfort. When we lose that, we are in the throes of what is called anhedonia. That is not always, but is often a symptom of the illness of clinical depression.