The sound of crackling fire. The feeling of a warm shower. The smell of baking bread in the oven. Many people find joy in these experiences. But for people with hedonic ataxia, these little pleasures can seem meaningless.
Experts usually describe anhedonia as a decreased ability to find pleasure in activities and experiences that once brought them pleasure. It is a condition associated with several mental health disorders and is the main symptom of major depressive disorder.
Clinicians are still investigating ways to treat hedonic ataxia. The condition is complex, and researchers disagree on its definition. The problem is that as many as 20 percent of Americans will experience depression in their lifetime. Risk of developing anhedonia.
What is anhedonia?
Anhedonia is commonly defined As a loss of enjoyment in everyday activities and experiences that a person previously found enjoyable. People with depression and schizophrenia are at increased risk of developing anhedonia. This condition has also been observed in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic illnesses and eating disorders.
Researchers debate whether it is necessary to classify hedonic disorders into two distinct categories: physical and social. Physical anhedonia relates to loss of enjoyment of bodily sensations. This broad category includes touch, smell, sound, and sight.
read more: Our sense of smell may be stronger than we think
Types of anhedonia
For example, a person with physical anhedonia may no longer enjoy a hot shower. Or maybe you just don’t like the scenery that you once found inspiring. Decreased libido and possible refusal of intimate relationships with partners.
The second category, the social category, is related to enjoying being with other people. People with social anhedonia may not enjoy spending time with friends and family. You may feel indifferent when you see a friend’s smile, or you may stop feeling good about helping others.
read more: What happens when humans become extremely isolated?
What are the symptoms of anhedonia?
Researchers typically use structured questionnaires to measure how people with anhedonia perceive everyday pleasures compared to people with anhedonia. These questionnaires can show scientists how much anhedonia diminishes past pleasures, but they don’t tell us much about what it’s like to live with anhedonia.
In the 2019 survey in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The researchers interviewed 34 young people who had been diagnosed with depression or developing symptoms of depression. Participants lived in the south of England and ranged in age from 13 years old for her to 18 years old for him. School and clinic staff recruited participants. None of the participants reported having psychotic features.
The study authors found some common themes in their interviews. Teens said not only did the fun disappear, they also struggled with motivation. They lost their sense of connection with others and never knew where they belonged.
One participant said she had lost the enjoyment of her daily activities and felt like she was in a “constant loop” where everything felt mundane. “I was kind of completely bored. It was like getting bored of a TV show and okay, quit it and move on to something else,” she said.
Other teens in the study also agreed that they didn’t seem to have anything fun to do and that they felt they had nothing to look forward to. One said his upcoming birthday would be “another day.”
Many said being unemotional meant feeling ‘grey’, ’empty’, ‘flat’ and ’empty’ about life. The study authors noted that participants had little intonation and even their voices reflected depressed emotions.
Teens with hedonic ataxia also described a lack of motivation, which in the case of one participant meant that they did not want to get out of bed and were forced out of the bedroom by their parents. Ta. Another said he mainly watched TV and did other passive activities because he had no desire to do more.
Participants said they were uninterested in spending time with family and friends and frequently declined social invitations due to lack of motivation. A teenage girl knew she was missing out on fun times with her friends, but couldn’t motivate herself to join her peer group. She said her exclusion was her choice, but it made her feel lonely.
sense of disconnection
The disconnect between people and the enjoyment of everyday life made many of the participants question the meaning of life. One teenager said he didn’t see the point in taking the academic qualification exams required to graduate from secondary school and enter higher education. “…what’s the use of that when we all die in the end?”
read more: Try 6 Science-Backed Secrets to Happiness
How to treat anhedonia
Anhedonia first explained In the early 20th century, researchers had a limited understanding of what was going on in the brain to cause anhedonia and what it was like to live with the condition. yeah. For years, researchers have focused on anhedonia associated with schizophrenia and depression.
Many clinicians are now find the best way Treating anhedonia means addressing the underlying disease, such as schizophrenia, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and others.
Depending on the underlying disorder, patients may be prescribed talk therapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both treatments to treat hedonic ataxia. In some circumstances, clinicians may recommend electroconvulsive therapy.
For those who suspect themselves or a loved one to have anhedonia, medical advocates recommend that they see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other health care professional for a proper diagnosis. Recommended. While it may be tempting to self-diagnose based on symptoms, medical advocates argue that people with anhedonia need professional care.
read more: Why is talk therapy so effective?