Anhedonia in Dictionary

Anhedonia is a term used in psychology and mental health to refer to the inability to enjoy activities that were previously considered pleasurable. It is considered a symptom of diseases such as depression or Alzheimer’s.

The word anhedonia derives from the Greek an (absence of) and hedoné (pleasure) and is a neologism that was first used at the end of the 19th century in the work Psychology of feelings , by the French psychologist Théodule A. Ribot.

Until now, it is believed that anhedonia is caused by alterations in the generation of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to reward mechanisms, but so far there is nothing conclusive about it.

The causes of anhedonia are also under discussion, but it is linked to feelings of guilt, repression of positive emotions or traumas related to the ability to link with enjoyment and pleasure.

The diagnosis and treatment of anhedonia corresponds to mental health personnel, and although it may be linked to other medical conditions, it can be treated.

Types of Anhedonia

So far, four types of anhedonia have been distinguished: motivational, consummatory, social or physical.

Motivational anhedonia

It refers to the absence of desire to participate in an activity, regardless of whether it is group or individual or if it is something new or known.

Consummatory Anhedonia

In this case, the affected person has already carried out the action, but the result generates dissatisfaction, even if it is something that in the past generated enjoyment.

Social anhedonia

It is related to the inability to feel satisfaction in the relationship with others, which can generate social isolation.

Physical anhedonia

It is the inability to feel pleasure before physical stimuli (kisses, caresses, hugs, smells, flavors or pleasant sounds, etc). From here derive sexual anhedonia (inability to enjoy sex) and anhedonia of appetite (the person does not enjoy the act of eating).

Degrees of Anhedonia

In addition, anhedonia can be suffered in two grades: total or partial.

Total Anhedonia

Total anhedonia is the lack of response to pleasant stimuli in all areas of life (social, physical, sexual, emotional).

Partial anhedonia

The person may suffer from some type of anhedonia, but it is functional in other aspects of his life. For example, you may suffer physical anhedonia, but you can enjoy company and social ties.

Anhedonia characteristics

  • Absence of concentration
  • Difficulty creating or maintaining links.
  • Social isolation, in response to the lack of satisfaction generated by being with other people or participating in certain activities.
  • Sedentary, as a result of the lack of enjoyment in the execution of daily activities.
  • Decrease in sexual activity.
  • Humor changes.
  • Lack of appetite.