Where mankind has always stressed upon a person’s physical health and the complications it has caused, mental health is an issue that is being ignored and goes unnoticed many times. As the term fitness consists of two parts, a healthy body and healthy mind, It is high time that we all start focusing upon our mental health and the aspects that can have an impact on it. When people have finally started coming out in order to share their suffering and help others who are dealing with the same mental health issues, it's important to look out for the things that have a potential to impact and hamper one’s mental health. With depression not being the only mental health issue that people around the globe are facing today, there are several other aspects and conditions that a person can suffer from. With Anhedonia being one of these mental health issues, this mental health day let’s spread awareness about this condition and learn about the causes and symptoms of this disease from Dr. Kriti Anand, Associate Consultant, Psychiatry, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula.
What is Anhedonia?
A condition similar to depression that is known as the inability to feel pleasure is termed as anhedonia. A mental health condition that is often a symptom of depression and other disorders like psychosis, anorexia, schizophrenia and personality disorders. This induces a feeling of not caring and losing interest in activities that a person used to like a lot in the past.
Let’s take a look at what Dr. Kriti Anand has to say about this- “Anhedonia is inability to experience pleasure in activities usually found enjoyable or simply lack of pleasure. Common causes are major depressive illness, schizophrenia, substance related disorders, bipolar depression, parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism.”
Where some people are aware of what pleasure really feels like, some people are either unaware of this beautiful feeling or certain to stop feeling it anymore. For some people where simple things like looking at the sunset, dancing or even the sound of the sea used to bring joy, due to this condition they stop feeling this emotion of joy and pleasure. Anhedonia is a condition that is further divided into two types, namely- Physical Anhedonia and Social Anhedonia.
- Physical Anhedonia- When a person suffers from physical anhedonia, he or she does not stop feeling any physical sensations but is unable to feel the pleasure and joy that is generally associated with it. For people suffering with this type of Anhedonia, activities such as hugs, touching, eating and sex come with no pleasure where thy muight also feel that the food the are eating is bland. This inability to feel joy and pleasure out of the physical activities is termed as physical Anhedonia .
- Social Anhedonia- Social anhedonia is a symptom of depression and a type of anhedonia which makes a person feel lonely and do not even feel like spending time with others. This condition of social Anhedonia leads to a person losing interest in any kind of social activity or events.
Symptoms of Anhedonia
Let the condition be physical or mental, it is very important to diagnose the problem at an early stage and treat it at times so that it does not end up becoming more complicated. Where Anhedonia itself is a symptom of depression, ignoring it can have some serious consequences and hamper your mental health. In order to treat Anhedonia timely, look out for these early signs and symptoms and consult a specialist or mental health expert as soon as you can.
Some of the most common symptoms of Anhedonia are-
- Cutting ties with people around and shrinking your social world
- Social Withdrawal
- Lack of interest in any family gathering or social event
- Failure in expressing emotions and keeping your thoughts to yourself
- Losing interest in your favourite activity.
- Disliking the food items that you used to love
- Lack of participation and hiding yourself from the world
Causes of Anhedonia
Nothing in this world happens without a reason and hence there is a cause behind everything. When this unwritten rule applies to almost everything around then how can mental health issues like Anhedonia be spared? Anhedonia is a symptom of depression that also tends to affect people with some other mental disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A few researches have also proven that Anhedonia is linked with the change in a person’s brain activity.
This condition can occur due to the way your brain responds to the feel-good hormone called dopamine. The dopamine neurons are said to be pretty overactive in people suffering from Anhedonia and hence affects the way a person feels and responds to pleasure causing activities.
Treatment for Anhedonia
In the present day world where medical sciences are coming up with new innovations everyday as a solution to numerous problems, the way it is developing is tremendous. In the similar manner the advancements of medical sciences come up with solutions for the condition of Anhedonia as well. Before going any further let us take a moment to understand that what Dr. Kriti Anand has to say about the treatment options available for treating condition like Anhedonia. “If someone is feeling loss of pleasure in activities previously found pleasurable then the patient should be taken to a mental health expert for evaluation. This can be a symptom of multiple common mental illnesses, which are treatable with pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy.”
Some of the other treatment options that a person suffering from Anhedonia can seek for are-
- Practicing mindfulness
- Taking a therapy
- Talk therapy
- Ketamine medication
With Inputs from Dr. Kriti Anand, Associate Consultant, Psychiatry, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula.