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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Definition of Anhedonia
Anhedonia: Loss of the capacity to experience pleasure. The inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences. Anhedonia is a core clinical feature of depression, schizophrenia, and some other mental illnesses.

An anhedonic mother finds no joy from playing with her baby. An anhedonic football fan is not excited when his team wins. An anhedonic teenager feels no pleasure from passing the driving test.

"Anhedonia" is derived from the Greek "a-" (without) "hedone" (pleasure, delight). Other words derived from "hedone" include hedonism (a philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the main aim of life), hedonist (a pleasure-seeker), and hedonophobia (an excessive and persistent fear of pleasure).

anhedonia is a brain condition that can be brought about by prolonged stimulant abuse. the brain forms many extra dopamine receptors in response to it getting flooded by huge bursts of the chemical on a regular basis. it is fooled into thinking there is so much available that it needs to form more receptors to handle the flow.

once a person tries to stop their meth or cocaine use, the brain does not automatically understand this. the extra receptors are still active. they are like munchkins waiting for the arrival of glinda. and when glinda (the big dopamine dumps) doesn't come, they panic and cause the brain to react in a highly agitated and negative fashion.

being used to big highs and big lows, the brain can initially only understand that it doesn't feel anything close to what it's used to. it only feels nothing. it doesn't remember happiness or pleasure. it only feels empty.

this is anhedonia.

if you or someone you know is in early recovery, this can easily be a by-product of getting clean or sober. there is no real quick fix. the brain takes time to heal. plenty of liquids, good sleep, and antioxidants and free radicals can be helpful though. and so can a friend with a great sense of humor.

it can be quite a challenge to comfort a friend while they are in the throes of anhedonia. they may easily become emotional about the loss of pleasure. they may not remember the pleasure they had, even yesterday. they may convince themselves they have never felt such a thing as good. and they may be frightened they will never feel it again.

their brain may be fooling them into a relapse.

for more information on anhedonia and relapse, consult with a mental health or substance use professional in your area. if none are available try findin one through nimh. a person can definitely weather the storm that is anhedonia. i found help through a higher power.

(oh, yes--- and a sponsor, too!)



Anonymous said...

I have heard of this cuz I've been told that I 'live' with it when I go into a major depression. I didn't realize it was so prevalent for those in recovery. BTW, it took me a hot minute to realize that the song was a cover of Pink Floyd!

Marc said...

Can I duplicate this entry for the cmainla blog?

Sheria said...

I didn't know about this syndrome. Thanks for the education.

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