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definition anhedoniaLiving in a big city in the 21st century can be stressful: noise, rush, traffic jams, intrusive commercials, bad ecology, high prices, and other factors do not contribute to one’s calmness and inner harmony. Additional stresses such as hard work, fatigue, family problems, taxes, and so on only multiply and increase the existing stress. No wonder that in such conditions, people living in cities often develop various psychological conditions that can hardly be called healthy. Depression and nervous breakdowns have become as common in the recent decades as the flu. One of such conditions is anhedonia—a dangerous condition that can be generally described as an inability to have fun and feel pleasure. But what causes it?

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Currently, there are several approaches to understanding the reasons standing behind anhedonia; these approaches refer to both physiological aspects of one’s mental health (such as biochemistry) and mental ones. One of the most common theories relates to social learning as a method that might be possibly triggering anhedonia. Experts believe a child’s psychological development runs normally when he or she has an opportunity to watch the behaviors, emotional reactions, actions, and manners of people surrounding them; children repeat what they see, and respectively receive feedback, positive or negative. This feedback is what teaches a child to do or not to do something. However, when a child has less opportunities to learn from other people, or receives little-to-no feedback (and respectively, becomes deprived of the accompanying emotions), he or she might later be more prone to developing anhedonia. The same works in the case of mentally-impaired children (AlcoholRehab). Thus, one cause of anhedonia might be the lack of experiences and emotional feedback (positive or negative) in childhood.

Another cause standing behind anhedonia is depression. In fact, anhedonia is often a symptom of major depressive disorder or clinical depression. Most people who have such mental conditions usually develop high levels of anhedonia. At the same time, a research study of Faith Brynie conducted in 2009 shows that even in the case of depression, pleasure and positive emotions can be experienced in full capacity—but only during a short period of time. This results in the lack of motivation or interest to engage in activities, and thus a person deprives themselves of possible positive experiences (ePain Assist).

There are also many other reasons leading to anhedonia. Among them, one should point out such conditions as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and other mental disorders. However, anhedonia is not always necessarily caused by only mental conditions. A common physical illness or fatigue can also lead to a short-term anhedonia. Spinal cord injuries, hyperprolactinemia, or low levels of testosterone also puts a person at risk of developing anhedonia. In some cases, this can be a result of the use of SSRI drugs (Right Diagnosis).

Anhedonia is a mental condition characterized by a person’s inability to experience pleasure and positive emotions. Although research studies in 2009 showed that depressed people can also experience pleasure, this pleasure does not last long, which causes the lack of motivation to engage into potentially pleasant activities, thus forming a cycle of anhedonia. Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia can cause anhedonia; however, it would be a mistake to think only mental conditions lead to it. Sometimes, a common fatigue or sickness can deprive a person of positive emotions for some period of time. In any case, the first symptoms of anhedonia are already a reason to visit a doctor.


“Anhedonia – Inability to Experience Pleasure.” AlcoholRehab. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

“What is Anhedonia: It’s Link with Depression, Symptoms, Types, Causes.”EPainAssist. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

“Causes of Anhedonia.” Right Diagnosis. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

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