#SafeZone: ANHEDONIA

Ose Adeniyi has a new #SafeZone story to share, talking about the more profound problems of depression, one that’s always neglected.

Depression, the all too familiar monster that takes hold of many lives today in secret. The one that takes lives hostage and can still have them in total denial that they are prisoners of this beast. Also, the same beast drives some of the greatest artwork throughout the history. But how much do we know about the depression and its worst forms? After its fed on the dark energies of its host and has completely depleted everything positive; the moment when depression’s push to suicide turns to shove and lives end themselves. When depression becomes Major Depressive Disorder.

Clinical depression has a partner, a much darker partner that can easily be overlooked because depression is the face of the whole shebang; Anhedonia.

Anhedonia, originating from French anhédonie, from Greek an- ‘without’ + hēdonē ‘pleasure’; in the DSM-V (the great big book of psychological disorders) is defined by either a reduced ability to experience pleasure or a diminished interest in engaging in pleasurable activities. It can also be described as an emotional flatness that leads to an inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences.

An alternative theory highlighted by Psychologytoday suggests anhedonia comes not from a reduced capacity to experience pleasure, but instead from an inability to sustain good feelings over time. In other words, maybe pleasure is experienced fully, but only briefly–not long enough to sustain an interest or involvement in life’s good things.

From all the descriptions and definitions, one thing is clear; anhedonia is the final blow or set of blows that sets a depressed soul on the path to suicide. As everything starts to become bland, our minds begin to seek out new pleasurable experiences and when these new experiences do not bring pleasure, we begin to wonder what is left to live for. This is the emptiness described in depression. One who experiences anhedonia could be seen as fearless or having eyes that seem soulless; in anime represented that one character that seems to be unmoved by everything, including a serious fight to the death.

Although depressive disorders and anhedonia go together like Bonnie and Clyde; anhedonia isn’t so faithful, it is also a symptom of other disorders such as substance-related disorders, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders; like schizophrenia, psychosis, Parkinson’s disease and anorexia.

There are also two forms of anhedonia; social anhedonia which entails a loss in disinterest in social contact and a lack of pleasure in social situations, and physical anhedonia which is an inability to feel tactile pleasures such as eating, touching, or sex.

A deeper insight into anhedonia shows that it not just a reduced appreciation of once pleasurable experiences, “ there is evidence that many individuals with anhedonia can experience pleasure in a similar way to the rest of the population — it’s just that there is something amiss as far as motivation, anticipation, and reward are concerned.”

Like any disorder, physical or mental; anhedonia has its symptoms. A few of which are:

  • • Social withdrawals.
  • • A lack of relationships or withdrawal from previous relationships
  • • Negative feelings toward yourself and others.
  • • Reduced emotional abilities, including having less verbal or nonverbal expressions.
  • • Difficulty adjusting to social situations.
  • • A tendency toward showing fake emotions, such as pretending you’re happy at a wedding.
  • • A loss of libido or a lack of interest in physical intimacy.
  • • Persistent physical problems, such as being sick often.

So, what you may ask are the possible causes of anhedonia.

If you have a family history of major depression or schizophrenia, you’re at an increased risk for anhedonia. Other risk factors include:

  • • A recent traumatic or stressful event.
  • • A history of abuse or neglect.
  • • An illness that impacts your quality of life.
  • • A major illness.
  • • An eating disorder.

Females are also at an increased risk for anhedonia.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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