What is anhedonia?
Anhedonia is the diminished capacity to experience pleasure, first introduced by Théodule French philosopher Armand Ribot. They lose interest in hobbies, friends, or sex with someone. 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.
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 with a partner.
5. Recurring depression, even after doing activities that used to make the person happy.
Major types of anhedonia
1. Consummatory – They get no satisfaction in pleasure, even from a previous experience that used to give them happiness. They no longer want to go out or watch movies with friends or family.
2. Social and Motivation – The person withdraws from social gatherings because they don’t like to make or entertain friends. They refuse to join activities because the reward is not satisfying.
3. Sexual – They don’t feel a sustainable sensation of pleasure in sex with someone. Although they may find sexual pleasure in masturbation or porn, it’s a way for them to shut the outside world.
→ Practical discipline to help prevent child depression.
Mental: It tricks your brain
Anhedonia is a delusion, like falling headfirst. You are unaware life is upside down. Everything seems normal, which means the past, present, future are all the same. There is no hope or destiny. The brain lies by saying you will never be happy. Why bother to do anything?
The science behind anhedonia
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 dopamine after a sense of “reward.” For example, after an affection or shopping.
Mislabeled or rooted in one cause?
However, it can also trick the brain to give such “reward,” induced by illegal drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, and morphine (NCBI). Interestingly, Doctors often mislabel anhedonia as extreme depression or melancholia.
Point is, it’s all in the brain, no wonder the Bible tells us that we should have the Mind of Christ, not of carnality (1 Cor. 2:13-16). Ultimately, it’s Satan, our enemy, who influences our mind to despair.
The only cure for anhedonia, depression, or melancholia
Anhedonia can be traced from the family’s history of depression or schizophrenia. The Bible has a category for this, and its called “generational sin or curses.” But those who belong to Christ are free from the condemnation of sin or curses. (Romans 8:1)
Science acknowledges the correlation between prayer and healing (NCBI). Although anhedonia is a result of anything from a traumatic event, neglect, or self-focus, only the love of Jesus can complete and heal us from all forms of sadness. Consider the following Bible verses:
- Philippians 4:8 – 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.
- Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
- Matthew 9:35 – Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages… proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
- John 14:27 – 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.
- Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Real peace and joy are only possible by knowing Jesus
It comes with a promise to those who believe. Remember, by His wounds; we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus said, “The one who believes in Me, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (John 7:38)