What is anhedonia?
Anhedonia is the diminished capacity to experience pleasure, first introduced by Théodule French philosopher Armand Ribot. Those who have it lose interest in hobbies, friends, or even having sex.
They can’t sustain happy thoughts. For example, a great dancer loses interest in dancing. In short, the brain’s pleasure circuits are turned off.
Anhedonia can also happen after a traumatic event, neglect, or self-focus. Doctors often mislabel anhedonia as extreme depression or melancholia.
Signs and Symptoms of anhedonia
- Avoids conversation that leads to expressive happy emotions.
- Refuses to join pleasurable activities or attend social gatherings.
- Lack of interest in sexual activity with a partner.
- Recurring depression.
→ Practical discipline to help prevent child depression.
Reward circuits that cause us to feel happy
The nucleus accumbens of the brain is the “reward circuit” that operates two neurotransmitters: Dopamine (promotes desire) and Serotonin (satisfaction or inhibition).
The brain releases them after having a sense of rewards like being loved or shopping. Without these brain chemicals, we feel sad and empty.
Satan can play tricks on our minds
People who suffer from anhedonia are linked to feelings of being “unloved” or having no hope. Since they are purposeless, the brain has no reason to generate a sense of “reward.”
The Bible says Satan is a deceiver (Revelation 20:10) and can blind our minds (2 Corinthians 4:4). He wants to devour us, and the most common lie he tells us is that we have no hope.
What follows is depression and, sometimes, anhedonia.
The only cure for anhedonia, depression, or melancholia
Chronic depression can be traced from the family’s mental history. New studies show genes are associated with anhedonia. [Nature]
Whether it’s schizophrenia, depression, or melancholia, these mental disorders begin in the brain. No wonder the Bible tells us to possess the “Mind of Christ,” not of carnality (1 Cor. 2:13-16).
Only Jesus can free our minds from the lies of Satan, who wants us to believe we’re condemned (Romans 8:1). The only treatment for anhedonia is His love.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.“
Pray and ask for the ‘peace of God’ that transcends all understanding
Science acknowledges the correlation between prayer and healing (NCBI). The Bible tells us repeatedly that true joy and peace only come from God. Ask Jesus for healing.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
Are you depressed?
Biblical steps to overcome depression.
Root cause of depression.
I see the logic in taking a spiritual approach, but at the same time, I HIGHLY doubt that anyone who has ever suffered from anhedonia would ever write such an article, making it sounds like it’s just a simple matter of praying and, poof, it’s gone.
When one has anhedonia it feels like love, Jesus, God, etc NO LONGER EXIST. It’s the worse feeling in the world.
I have anhedonia too and honestly prayer hasn’t helped me. I’m not saying that prayer doesn’t work, just that my anhedonia has not gone away and I’ve been praying for years. It really is horrible.
A person who suffering with anhedonia means he lost interests in everything.., including JESUS!
I guess it’s Gods’ plan for some of us to suffer. I pray everyday, mainly for my son who suffers as well. Neither of us have gotten better. We both have thoughts of suicide sometimes. I don’t blame God. I still believe in Jesus and I know he died for our sins. I really don’t understand, but I am not God. Though my faith is weak, I try to keep faith in Him and I pray he comes back soon and ends all our suffering. All we can do is keep waiting and trusting in him. I pray anyone reading this is blessed with the ability to have joy again, in Jesus’ name, Amen
Spirit of heaviness. Demonic oppression, clearly obvious with the suicidal thoughts.
Wish I knew what I was clicking on in advance, smh. May earth one day emerge from the dark ages of religious nonsense. This irresponsible article can drive people to suicide. Millions pray for justice and humane treatment, for thousands of years. And when people pray n pray n pray and nothing happens, spiritual abusers will tell them it’s their fault or they are doing it wrong or in the wrong church. I can’t with this.
I’m seeing a lot of horrid hateful articles on this site. I won’t be back smh
People who have anhedonia do not avoid conversation that leads to expressive happy emotions. Rather, no matter in what conversation they engage, they never elicit feelings of happiness. Also they don’t refuse pleasurable activities, because no activity is inherently pleasurable. When your anhedonic all activities become empty and meaningless. There are things which can help this condition like taking certain medications (ADHD medications, Pramipexol etc.), taking certain combinations of supplements (Facebook group: Anhedonia Cure), doing neurofeedback, and exercising. It is a dangerous idea that prayer is THE SOLUTION for anhedonia. If you believe in God or Jesus maybe consider the thought that he might reach you the means to improve on your condition but does not simply cure you without changing anything to your life. There are certain biological, biochemical or perhaps even psychosocial or other underpinnings for this illness which have to be addressed in order to get better. At the very least the cause of the anhedonia has to be taken away, like taking certain medications, in order to recover.
My brother lost his hand in a work accident. Will praying grow his hand back? Have you any modern day accounts of a miraculous restoration of a lost limb?
Or maybe, are you saying emotional problems are exclusively the result of spiritual issues, never the result of physical malfunction?
Obviously, Jesus is the answer for spiritual issues. Biblically, He personally remedied physical problems. If anhedonia is caused or exacerbated by physical issues, will Jesus heal that along with the spiritual issues? If He will heal that physical issue will He also restore lost limbs (no joke, my brother is missing his hand) ?
I ask because often people talk about God ALWAYS healing depression, but only sometimes/once in a while/who knows how often healing physical problems (like blindness or down syndrome or a missing limb etc.) and I wonder why God would be inconsistent. It’s obvious why PEOPLE have inconsistent stories, as it is easier to claim something is “spiritual” because when you talk about spiritual matters you don’t have to produce proof.
Why would we want to cure the gift that disposes of the evil pleasures of the world? Anhedonia kills the earthly reward for carnal pleasure. You cannot look at a woman in lust if you have no lust with which to look at a woman. It’s basically the free gift of ascetisism that could only plunge the patient into a deep, thoughtful relationship with the Holy Spirit, with only half of the training that the ancient monastics needed to approach that nebulous joy that the mystics pursue.
I don’t see how anhedonia, when properly applied outside the world that pressures you to earthly reward, can be anything but a shortcut to spiritual discipline with the right counselling from a spiritual advisor who know about Christianity’s first few centuries.
I have no doubt the roots of anhedonia are demonic. Like many of the others leaving comments, I have asked God for years for healing only to continue in depression (and I’ve been on medication as well so call me “double minded” if you must – I’ve certainly struggled with the seeming contradiction). Over the past few years I’ve begun asking Him, “God, please glorify Your Holy Name in this dark place I’ve been for so long.”
No, the root cause of anhedonia is a boring life. And it comes from the belief that you can get the same high from something you got bored of a long time ago. Most of the time this takes the form of an addiction, like an addiction to food, alcohol, soft drinks, sex, video games…
The solution is not necessarily to find love in Jesus, but to remember how exciting this life is that the Father created for us. If your life is boring, chances are you made it that way. You don’t realize that God wants us to “sing a new song”, not the same song day in day out for the rest of our lives. Move on from the food, alcohol, sex… take a break from it and stop trying to find your life’s meaning in things that can never satisfy you.
Christians nowadays are sooo boring. You don’t even realize it. All you care about is your stupid Sunday church services with your weekly Bible studies, working your 9 to 5 8 hour jobs for 20 years doing something you hate just so you can provide for a family that just sits at home doing nothing all day.
How stark the contrast is between the lives we lead and the exciting lives that the Bible often speaks about. Just consider for a moment how meaningful the life of the apostles was. Despite all of the persecution and suffering they had to endure, there is no way they didn’t find incredible meaning in every single thing that they did. And the list is endless – Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Samson, Esther, King David, etc… all of them led really interesting lives.
The fact is that some of us have been called to a life of adventure and trying to do life like the rest of the world is a recipe for depression. Don’t you know that if we ask the Father He will give us the desires of our heart? That includes a life with enough novelty in it to keep you from depression. It’s not like any of us are enslaved at the moment. We have the freedom to choose how we want to spend our time. The world is your oyster, so get excited about it.
Learn an instrument, join a choir, try a new sport, learn how to cook a new cuisine, read more books, build a garden, draw something, take a pretty photo, do a short course, share your faith with an unbeliever, make a YouTube channel, write a book, make a science experiment, start a business, go travelling, learn a new language, have a party, play a new game with your friends… there are sooo many things you can do.
Praise God. Thank you for your article, hope is in Christ Jesus. He is the Son of the living God, Lord and Savior.
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Even if I do not feel much joy emotionally, let alone the physical signs of frequent smiling and laughter, I can pray and give thanks to God.
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Trust the Lord Jesus for salvation and rest in all of His promises, such as His peace, love, and rest. He keeps us in His hand and helps us pray. He prays for us, so we can rest in Him and go forth and live in faith. His promises are true and don’t depend on our “feeling” them.
This kind of thinking is poisoning the well of society. What happens when people do everything they were supposed to do, spiritually, and gave everything they could and they STILL continue to suffer? Then the victim blaming begins: “Maybe you’re not serious, enough.” “Maybe you didn’t pray hard enough.” “Maybe you’re living in sin.” “Maybe you don’t really want it.”
They internalize that onto feelings of inadequacy, which validates that emptiness and sense of damnation and eternal separation. If you’ve given your all to prayer, kindness, love, sacrifice, meditation, etc. Even tried every medication available but to no avail, then you are left watching others get comfort while you continue to suffer, WHAT OTHER CONCLUSION IS THERE??
People DIE because they are led to believe that they aren’t enough, nor worthy of any peace from their suffering. They BEG for the most basic of things: “Please let me feel literally any emotion again!” “Please give me back my ability to focus.” “Please give me the ability to cry like I used to.” “Please give me back my ability to enjoy music.”
Testimonies like these only rub salt in the rejection wounds, reminding the sufferers that god apparently loves other people more than them. If god really only gave people no more than they could handle then suicide wouldn’t happen.
This whole world is cruel and no one seems to care or they end up doing more harm than good with toxic positivity. The worst part for me is that I had a real encounter but it just left me with permanent brain damage. No one, not even God, is worth this. There’s zero redeeming factors that might keep someone going. Eventually, you begin to resent those loved ones for not understanding. You begin to want them to watch you die, out of spite. You beg God: “My humanity is slipping away! I don’t want to become this horrible thing! Do something!” In addition, you reach out to doctors and therapists, covering all the bases, but only to have them give up on you because they don’t want to deal with anything that doesn’t respond to the standard medications. They make meds that destroy your emotions, not give them back to you. Well, there’s Ketamine. Do you have $2,500 for the loading doses? If you’re on disability, likely not.
I was a musician. I had this unique ability to translate the love I felt from the divine into ethereal music. Mostly stoners loved my work but so did spiritual people. I had a friend tell me one of my songs saved her life.
I CAN’T DO THAT ANYMORE! MY ABILITY TO COMPOSE, LET ALONE ENJOY MUSIC, HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM ME AND NO ONE SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO TRY EVERYTHING BUT STILL NOT FEEL ANYTHING BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT ABOUT HOW THE BRAIN WORKS AND I’M BLOODY FED-UP WITH THEIR IGNORANCE BECAUSE IT HURTS! THEIR IGNORANCE HURTS LIKE ABUSE!
I’m done. I don’t care, anymore. I don’t care if I go to hell. I’m already in it. I don’t care who I leave behind. The ability to care was taken from me, too. I’m just done. I’ve made up my mind. Call my what you need to. I don’t care. I probably am that but I just don’t care, anymore.