Anhedonia, the worst for me.

 

The moment I realized something was wrong was when I noticed no joy and eventually no feelings anymore.

 

At first I gave it a few days but the feelings didn’t come back. Once I realized that, I panicked – that was a real feeling. The panic moved from heart to head and it lived there. I just thought about that I couldn’t feel anything. You could have the misconception that ‘not feeling’ could be a of holiday or a break from the sad feelings. Well it isn’t. It’s just grey. In all 50 shades. Lighter gray, darker grey, middle gray but that doesn’t matter, it’s just grey.

 

As I understood from my psychiatrist this isn’t a good thing as it ended as the first thing being written down on my letter to another doctor. It is called anhedonia. I like the word, it has some music to it. It don’t like what it does to me.

 

But that was then and is it back now? The days are as grey as my feelings. Time is something that passes and returns. My head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton balls. I suppose fighting it will leave me more tired as per usual? Or shall I wait till it leaves like a cloud that passes? But I worry that I will ‘invite it’ and it will get worse.

 

The anhedonia seems to know what I like, it collects all the things and takes them away. It’s like browsing the web when suddenly your internet connection fails. What? What is this?

 

This is what is left, the internet without a connection. You can google search all you want, you get the same result, ‘error 404 page not found’. No fun, no feelings. Maybe it’s the only way to be sure your system won’t get infected with a virus. You’re safe in the moment because there is nothing to do. I try to think of it as a safety blanket. It usually comes up when I dare to be excited or happy for someting on one hand  but stress-levels are higher as usual on the other hand.

 

The example of the week: I have a lot of stressy appointments due to my finacial situation and there is still insecurity. This circus started the 10th of October. I really wanted to make a long walk with the doggie on Friday but it is lights out. Can that be ‘it’? Is that enough to make me feel nothing?

 

The curious person I am I find comfort in ‘understanding things’. I found out about different kinds of anhedonia. Who would have guessed? Is it like this fancy empty restaurant where you can choose different kinds of misery? It sure does give it a particular flavor.

 

Not only is anhedonia  a (negative) symptom of depression but people dealing with schizophrenia disorders, BPD or (social) anxiety can encounter it too. At least I am in good company. People without mental health struggles can experience it too. Now I’m really not sure what is happening. 

 

Anhedonia may be linked to a lower activity of the prefrontal cortex which controls the release of dopamine. This however is one sentence that cannot captivate all the specific knowledge about the brain and its functioning.

 

To make it worse, there is no cure speaking in medical treatment[1], although antidepressants can stabilize mood and therefore secondary give you the strength and the ability to overcome or deal with anhedonia. More invasive are transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS),  ECT or vagus nerve stimulation. Counselling is actually the first in line to seek relief while dealing with it.

 

There are life-events that make you more susceptible to anhedonia, like a history of abuse or neglect, chronic stress, an eating disorder or a major depressive disorder. If I understand well anhedonia can also show up while recovering from depression. This was not in my line of expectations but I’m relieved it doesn’t mean I will relapse in the darkest of the darkest.

 

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Anhedonia is the inability to experience joy or pleasure. You can experience it in different areas of life. I notice it first in the things I really like because off the clear difference. As it goes Pierre notices it even earlier, he says I’m more negative and short tempered and I am just really surprised that there are such sneaky symptoms. In my case it starts out small, I may notice that that particular dish wasn’t good, than it spills over into music, then to daily things which aren’t colorful to begin with  and I end up in my bed. Or writing this because I’m tired of lying in bed.

 

What are different kinds of anhedonia, how can you notice that something is ‘off’? [3]

 

  1. Consummatory anhedonia ; when you don’t feel pleasure in the moment[2] . For me this ones becomes clear with loss of appetite, it is like I don’t taste the food anymore while my eyes tell me that that dish in front of me is really good. Needless to say I won’t make the effort to cook, to set the table or to do the dishes. It’s all pointless when the food tastes no good!
  1. Anticipatory anhedonia; when you don’t experience pleasure in anticipation of future activities. I think the ‘fun’ thing will not happen at all, I don’t expect it anymore.
  1. Sexual anhedonia; not feeling fulfillment or enjoyment in sexual actions.
  1. Specific musical anhedonia; no pleasure in listening to music while being able to process melody and rhythm. Apparently there is also something called melophobia, which is the fear of music. I’m so glad (!) that I don’t have the last one. I do experience no joy in listening to music  anymore which can be frustrating as it is a great stress reliever for me and something I am passionate about. I posted a song yesterday. I know I like the song and today, I can’t listen to it, I don’t feel it. Because I know I do like it, I still posted it and I think that my blog can be a thread to hold on too. Maybe I don’t feel like writing, I slowly get the words on the page and it helps me to gather some thoughts. Looking back at previous posts I see that I have interests and that I’ve posted already a lot of them. I may not feel a thing but I see some results. That comforts me.
  1. Social anhedonia; no interest of interacting with others; it is difficult to adapt socially. What I don’t have is a loss of pleasure when I talk or connect with someone. It doesn’t help that I’m not willing to go out because of way too people-ly and that I decided to live under my blanket. I’ll try tomorrow, I’ll try to take a shower and to show my face. Sometimes I’m just that desperate.

Did you experienced anhedonia? Are there tips on how to deal with it? Is it bad to have it, does it mean that it will get worse or can it make a soft turn? Thank you for reading and I always read the comments!

 


References and Notes. 

[1] I’ve heard about ketamine but I don’t have experience with it nor I know people who do.

[2] https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-014-0211-1

[3] When you think you are experiencing this, talk with a professional. Ask you’re family doctor or therapist. They can see things more clearly and provide you with the right information for you.

 

Interesting posts on anhedonia. 

  1. Hedonic Mind – Doubts
  2. Em – Anhedonia and Depression
  3. MentalHealth@Home – Depression giveth and depression taketh away: anhedonia and apathy in depression. 

When you’re fed up with all the sad stuff, this is a ‘lighter’ read:

Afrenchtoolbox – Sudden Absurdity Syndrome

 

Picture click here.

23 thoughts on “Anhedonia, the worst for me.

  1. Thanks for the mention!

    I think anhedonia for a day would be easy enough to detail with. Yet when it stretches out longer and longer, it really does suck the colour right out of everything. I tend to think of psychomotor retardation as my brain’s main security blanket, by anhedonia certainly contributes too.

    It’s been so long now that it’s hard to remember what it felt like to enjoy things, although in theory I recognize that I did. My guinea pigs are the most effective at bringing a little colour back into my world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, I was looking for some answers or tips or shared misery and blogs have that possibility! Not feeling for a day it can be maybe relaxing in a way. Last time it was over a month and I thought I was going to lose my mind!
      To me it feels like a long struggle, I don’t know when it’s going to leave again. I think it protects me against ‘really losing it’ due to stress (and then it over-does it)
      I really don’t know and don’t understand at the moment.
      I find really hard and exhausting and debilitating and just ‘bwek’
      Animals are amazing! So good you found your piggies to color the world! I’m looking for my method to overcome this and somehow I’ll find something. I am actually very positive you see 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for informing. You might not feel the pleasure but you do produce it. I enjoy reading your comments and posts. This one maybe not so happy, but you make me realise how little I know and how fortunate I have been.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No need to compare misery 😅 Everybody has his own knowledge and experience. I write about sad because it is like that for me and I try to let it out and not keep it all in, if that makes sense. After I’ve written some things down, they have a place ‘to be’ and I can ‘leave’ them there for a little while. I can’t promise always a lot of happy on this blog but I’ll get there. I’m as honest as I can be. That is the thing I want to keep in my writing. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Like

      1. I feel better because I know I wrote them and waht I wrote is something I stand behind. I know these feelings will pass and I’ll find myself back. It ‘grounds’ me in a way to write it down, to tell it like it is and to share it. So better definitely because I’m not running away anymore. I’m here to stay with all my ups and downs!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. One thing I have noticed is how many people are affected by this. The media talk about “mental health” but don’t go any deeper than that. Through blogs such as yours I can gain more of an understanding.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! Really interesting to read. I suppose I just a lack of feeling down to dissociation, which tends to happen to me when I am very stressed and overwhelmed. Looking back, there were times when I felt empty/unemotional and I braced myself for a depressive episode that never came. Maybe I was misunderstanding what I was feeling and it was a kind of anhedonia. I will definitely keep this in mind in future! I hope that you are feeling better again soon. x

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    1. Thank you for your comment! It seems it is a little tricky thing, the anhedonia. I think it can be a serious warning sign that something is not quite right. When you braced yourself maybe it helped to overcome things or to lower the stress.
      Thank you for the getting better wishes, they will come true, I’m stubborn like that 😊
      I found your comment in the spambox don’t know how that happened. It’s a shame when your comments on other posts would not come through! x

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  4. Anhedonia really does sound like the title of an 80s hair metal band album. I think I’ve had every version of it at some point in my life, often two or three at a time, but that may be the bipolar part of things. I’d never actually heard of this before, so thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re welcome. I wish it was a metal band album from the eighties that we could leave behind it the eighties! I think you can have it too with bipolar, it’s just a flat feeling, nothing special at all except for the fact that you know that it is not right and you’re stuck. Thanks for reading!

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  6. Very good post, Kacha 🙂

    I read the October one too. It’s a Gordian Knot.

    I remember when I came across the term anhedonia, years ago and did research online like you to know more about it even though like you I had inner knowing of it.

    So my answer to your first question is – yes, I have experienced anhedonia. I also panicked and then I stopped panicking about having it when I viewed it as a feeling too, so for me it became a no-feeling feeling. I’m simplifying my experience.

    I don’t think it is “bad” to have it, seeing things that way tends to make them the way we see them – that’s a trick I use when going through something. View it from other perspectives by slowly spinning it around, see the sides, what’s behind the facade, other facets. I sometimes use astrology for that since it tends to give alternatives, in astrology everything is a whole made of good/bad (like the yin/yang symbol), rather than split into either/or.

    A tip would be to read your own posts again differently from when you read while writing to publish. Skimming them with an eye for things which stand out to you in what you have shared. Listening for a message from you to you.

    In this post you mention the music post you did the other day – why did you mention that? Could it be perhaps you showing yourself a way to help yourself. You highlighted certain lyrics – are there any sentences in this post or perhaps the October one which are highlighted in bold for you?

    This one stood out for me – “It usually comes up when I dare to be excited or happy for something” – but that’s me reading your post.

    If you were to highlight hings in this post like with the lyrics in the music one, what would it be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re such a sweet soul! Reading my ramblings with so much attention! Let me start with the Guardian Knot, which is a favorite of mine. Have you by any chance red some Lacan? He writes about the knot but in a whole different context of course. The 10.10.2019 is a sticky situation which weighs on me. Still no end in sight.

      ‘The feeling of no feeling’ is a good one and I agree. It’s easier not to panick too much but one must learn through experience.

      Listening to the message from ‘you to you’ is a very helpful remark. Things tend to come to a surface, they rise up a little and become visible to the personal eye. It’s like therapy. Go over it with a ‘high lighter’ is something that can help.

      It’s also no coincidence you made that remark on this post, as this one was the worst to write, to put together, it didn’t feel right but I went forward with it. It’s a less polished version of me, it’s peaces of me, of my thinking. As I have bad, sad or awfull days alternated with good I hope, you can notice that in my posts. It’s just not so ‘scientific’ and more confusing. But I need to let that out it is the debris of my mind. You picked a good one, the ‘dare to be exited’ it stems from something that I just now see.

      What a wonderful answer you wrote to me! Is this the art of commenting?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes you are in good company. The Anhedonia club meets at 5pm in an amusement park but nobody goes on any rides or has any fun. Then we each drive home alone, sobbing into our flat soda. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha that comment made me laugh so hard! I’m joining the club with my no fun pass. When I really don’t feel it, I may show up for no fun Friday where we sit and drink cold coffee while we don’t interact. Oops almost looked forward to it, luckily it was my brain tricking me.

      Liked by 1 person

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