Photo: nadia_bormotova/Getty Images
- One of the most common symptoms of depression is loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.
- This is known as anhedonia and is one of the most difficult symptoms to treat and manage.
- But as complex as it is, there is hope for people living with the disease, including certain types of treatments and medications.
- If you are suffering from depression, please consult South African Depression and Anxiety Groupof (SADAG) Mental Health Helpline, 0800 456 789.
When someone is depressed, it’s almost always assumed that they feel sad or depressed. But what many people don’t realize is that these aren’t the only symptoms of depression. Another common symptom of depression that can be overlooked is the feeling that things you used to enjoy are no longer interesting or enjoyable.
This condition, known as anhedonia, up to 75% with adults Young people with depression. However, despite how common this condition is, it remains one of the most difficult conditions to treat and manage.
READ MORE | I Lost A Loved One: 4 Signs You May Need to Seek Grief Counseling
loss of fun
Anhedonia It is defined as a decrease in interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities that a person previously enjoyed. If you have anhedonia for a long period of time (at least he has been for two weeks), you may be diagnosed with depression, even if you don’t feel sad or depressed.
in in-depth interview When my colleagues and I surveyed young people about depression, many described anhedonia as not just a loss of pleasure, but a decreased desire to do things. For some, this lack of motivation was only related to specific things, like going to school or seeing friends. But for others, it was more serious, they felt like they didn’t want to do anything or even live.
However, despite how troublesome hedonic ataxia is, it is often not the primary target for depression treatment.
For mild depression, the following methods are recommended for treatment: talking therapy. Antidepressants may be prescribed for people with more moderate or severe depression. All of these treatments are aimed at helping patients cope and overcome their symptoms, but more than half of people with depression do not respond to the initially recommended treatment.Even after changing therapy, about 30% of patients I am still having symptoms.
It has been argued that one reason for these low response rates may be that current therapeutic techniques are ineffective. Properly Targeting Hedonic Ataxia. Studies have also shown that it is predictive of hedonic ataxia. chronic recurrence of depression.Some antidepressants may even work exacerbate anhedonia.
Why is this? One possibility is that the current standard of care focuses primarily on treating symptoms. melancholy mood It’s the brain process that underpins low moods, but it’s not hedonic. For example, the main goals of speech therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, are to: patient’s negative thoughts. The most common antidepressants also primarily target: SerotoninThis is thought to partially support how the brain processes negative information.
Read more | It’s common to share your experiences in conversation, but sometimes it’s best to just listen
However, because anhedonia diminishes the enjoyment of life, it requires treatment such as: behavioral activation (a type of talk therapy) may be good for anhedonia. Because behavioral activation aims to help people with depression take simple, practical steps to enjoy life again. However, some studies have found that behavioral activation is no less effective than: Standard treatment In the management of hedonic ataxia. This may be because the very nature of hedonic ataxia involves a lack of motivation, making it difficult for patients to demonstrate motivation. tackle any treatmenteven in the format that is most likely to benefit them.
Anhedonia is also related to Dysfunction of the reward mechanism in the brain. Therefore, treatment is focused on improving treatment modalities. the brain processes rewards It may reduce anhedonia more effectively than current treatments.
However, the brain’s reward system is not simple and actually involves various subprocesses such as anticipation, motivation, pleasure and learning about reward. Problems in any of these subprocesses can cause ataxia.Therefore, it will be important for research to reveal how these subprocesses work Develop more appropriate treatment goals for people with hedonic ataxia.
Anhedonia can be complicated, but that doesn’t mean there is no hope for those affected by it.
For example, studies have found that talking therapy can help: Focus on processing rewards May help reduce anhedonia.Recent pilot study They also found that a new type of talk therapy called augmented depression therapy may be more effective than cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating depression. This is because augmented depression therapy specifically targets anhedonia by having patients focus on both negative and positive experiences.
In addition, antidepressants that target neurotransmitters involved in the reward system ( dopamine) may be more suitable for patients with anhedonia. Early studies investigated drugs such as: Ketaminemay affect dopamine activity, suggesting that it may be a promising treatment for hedonic ataxia.
It may also be difficult to find motivation if you are experiencing anhedonia, but find time to do fun and enjoyable activities and experiences, such as hobbies you used to love or even new hobbies. may help reduce anhedonia.
If you think you have anhedonia or other symptoms of depression, it’s important not to ignore your feelings so that you can get the right help and treatment. If you don’t know where to start, try sharing your feelings with a loved one or your doctor.