In psychology, anhedonia (< Greek αν- an-, without + ηδονή hēdonē, pleasure ) is an inability to experience pleasure from normally pleasurable life events such as eating, exercise, and social or sexual interaction.
Anhedonia is recognized as one of the key symptoms of the mood disorder depression according to both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM IV) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). Other than anhedonia, the DSM considers only depressed mood to be a key symptom. The ICD lists both depressed mood and fatigue or loss of energy as the other key symptoms. Anhedonia is also seen in schizophrenic disorders and other mental disorders.
Anhedonia is often experienced by drug addicts following withdrawal; in particular, stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines cause anhedonia and depression by depleting dopamine and other important neurotransmitters. Very long-term addicts are sometimes said to suffer a permanent physical breakdown of their pleasure pathways, leading to anhedonia on a permanent or semi-permanent basis due to the extended overworking of the neural pleasure pathways during active addiction, particularly as regards cocaine and methamphetamine. In this circumstance, activities still may be pleasurable, but can never be as pleasurable to people who have experienced the comparatively extreme pleasure of the drug experience. The result is apathy towards healthy routines by the addict. Extended periods of healthy lifestyles away from active addiction have been shown to reverse these feelings.
Anhedonia may also be an effect of prolonged fatigue.
Sexual anhedonia may be caused by:
A urological examination and blood tests can determine the cause of a specific case of sexual anhedonia.
Patients may be prescribed sustained-release bupropion to aid in treatment, because bupropion has been shown to increase sexual desire and intensity of orgasm.