What is Anhedonia?
Anhedonia is the diminished capacity to experience pleasure. It was first introduced by Théodule Armand Ribot, a famous French philosopher (NCBI). It is basically the inability to sustain happy thoughts, related to depression and anxiety.
People with Anhedonia lose interest in hobbies, friends, food, and sex. An example is a mother who doesn’t find joy in taking care of her baby, or a great dancer losing interest in dancing. Put it simply, it appears that the brain’s pleasure circuits shut down and turned off.
Signs and Symptoms of Anhedonia
1. Avoids conversation that leads to expressive happy emotions.
2. Refuses to join pleasurable activities.
3. Refuses to meet friends or attend social gatherings.
4. Lack of interest in sexual activity
5. Recurring depression, even after doing activities that used to make you happy.
Types of Anhedonia
1. Consummatory – They get no satisfaction in pleasure, even from a previous experience that used to give them happiness. They withdraw from activities they used to do such as sports, going out with friends, or even watching movies.
2. Motivation – They refuse to join activities because the reward is not satisfying. It’s like doing something useless and will not amount to any, be it your pleasure or someone else.
3. Social – The person refuses or withdraws from social interaction. To put it simply, they don’t like to make friends. The mere thought of being forced to talk and socialize dreads them. It is not the same as being shy and bashful because even introverts do get excited in meeting others or attending social gatherings.
4. Sexual – They don’t feel a sustainable sensation or pleasure in sex. They usually suffer from the inability to ejaculate or get arousal through physical contact with another person. Although they may find sexual pleasure in self-sex, masturbation, or by watching porn, to which some are addicted.
5. Musical Anhedonia – They can listen to sounds or music but cannot derive pleasure from listening to it. To them, music is just a compilation of high and low sounds and could not get a sense of emotions out of it.
Mental Delusion: It tricks your brain
Anhedonia is a delusion, like falling head first. You are unaware life is upside down, everything seems normal which is to say that the past, present, future are all the same. There is no hope, there is no destiny, your brain lies to you by saying you will never be happy, so why bother to do anything?
Science behind Anhedonia: Nucleus Accumbens
The nucleus accumbens located deep inside the primitive part of the brain. It plays an important role in the brains’ “reward circuit.” It operates two neurotransmitters: Dopamine (promotes desire) and Serotonin (satisfaction and inhibition)
Dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, after a “reward” (example: shopping, affection, drugs, pornography). Strong rewarding stimuli include recreational drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, and morphine (NCBI).
The only cure for depression
Doctors often mislabel Anhedonia as depression or melancholia and there are no known cures. But science acknowledge the correlation between prayer and healing (NCBI) and although causes of it stem from a traumatic event, abuse, neglect, or being unloved, only the love of Jesus can complete and heal us from all forms of sadness. (Psalm 147:3; Matthew 9:35; Luke 4:40; John 14:27)
The patterns of people with Anhedonia has a family history of clinical depression or schizophrenia. The Bible has a category for this and its called “generational sin or curses.” But to those who belong to Christ, we are free from the condemnation of sin or curses. (Romans 8:1) The scriptures remind us to focus on the good things, it implores us to love, and to care for one another. which is what people with depression need. (Philippians 4:8)