Understanding Anhedonia: How Depression Can Be Misunderstood

When most people think of depression, they envision emotions like sadness, loneliness, and hurt. But depression is a complex condition, one that results in (and results from) changes in brain activity and chemistry. Any time something changes how your brain responds and reacts can lead to issues that may not be exactly what people think about when they think of the term “depressed.”

One example is anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. Anhedonia is common in depression and can be experienced even when other feelings may not be as apparent.

What it Means to Have Anhedonia

It is not always clear why some people experience anhedonia and others do not, and perhaps that is why not everyone that has experienced depression knows what it is or what it feels like. Those that struggle with anhedonia have temporarily lost the ability to feel good feelings or joy, almost as if it was sapped away. That means that experiences like hugs, comedy, massages – things that made someone feel good no longer have the ability to create those feelings.

That does not mean that the person with anhedonia is necessarily sad at the time, or distracted with the emptiness of depression. Some people can deal with anhedonia even while everything around them feels otherwise fine. The person with anhedonia is just unable to experience the positive emotions of the event or activity in question. Every positive feeling, including love, sex, and activities that you would otherwise enjoy no longer are able to create a sense of enjoyment.

How to Treat Anhedonia

Anhedonia itself is not treated directly. As a Dallas Psychiatrist, I will try to help you better understand anhedonia so that you are aware of what you’re struggling with. But what our focus is on is to treat depression. Since depression causes anhedonia, once the depression is treated, the anhedonia should go away.

Therapy is a great way to gain the skills to control depression, and mental health medications can often provide near-immediate relief. Learn more about our anhedonia treatments by contacting Aware Behavioral Health, today.

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