Anhedonia Is...

Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure.  But really, I can't feel anything emotional.

It started when I was in junior high.  I remember asking people, "Do you ever feel like you're in a movie, just watching your life?"  And everybody would answer, "Yeah!"  "Oh, you can't feel emotions?"  "Oh.  Uh..." 

I thought it was just part of growing up, being mature.  After all, didn't adults seem a lot less emotional than kids?  So it took me years to get it checked out.  Ten years or so.

It's actually a symptom of depression.  It was very frustrating, at first, because no one explained to me that depression didn't necessarily have to involve sadness.  "I don't have depression!  I'm not sad!  I can't feel anything!"  I had to go through three pdocs before one of them knew what I was talking about.

I did feel emotions, once.  Deeply, intensely, as a kid.  I had such a horrible childhood, I sometimes wonder if I somehow managed to burn out my emotions from overuse.

People are freaked out when I tell them, thinking I must be some sort of serial killer.  (What?  Why would I want to kill anyone?!  I still have a conscience!)  So I keep it a secret, except for my closest friend.  And my psychiatrist.

When I do tell people online, they say, "I wish I didn't have emotions!"  And then they think about it and add, "Well... the negative ones."

Exactly.  The one thing that drives every human is to be happy.  What's the use of life if you can't feel happy?  Life is just waiting to die.  Getting work done in the meantime. 

I want to write stories.  I want to draw.  These were things I used to enjoy, but now... all of the inspiration and motivation has disappeared from them.

I'm not depressed anymore.  I can't stress that enough.  I haven't had a suicidal thought in... months?  Years?  I feel better.  I get work done.  There's just this one symptom that hasn't gone away.

I smile.  I laugh.  It's odd for people to understand.  These are social habits.  Camouflage.  I need to smile and laugh to fit in.  People would avoid me if I didn't.

Maybe there's something I can share with the world, living in this condition.  I don't know what it is.  Living solely with logic -- admittedly, flawed human logic -- isn't as enlightening as one would think.  I've learned some things about the nature of emotion.  But basically, the most important thing I've learned is that we need it to live.

I desperately want to get my emotions back.  I'm on meds to try to fix it.  Occasionally, it works.  I'll feel ambient emotion for maybe a minute.  Once every few months.  (That's another thing I don't think people will understand -- you feel emotion every minute of your life, whether there's something "emotional" happening or not.  You walk in your house, you feel emotion about opening the door.)

I wish I could meet others who have overcome this condition, see what they did, and do it myself.  My art and writing need it.

Bradford Bradford
26-30, F
26 Responses Jan 17, 2008

I've had anhedonia and panic disorder for over 8 months. I want to die but I'm scared of going through with it, and of suffering in the afterlife as well.

This is probably the most similar account of anhedonia to my own that I have ever heard. For me it started up in middle school (despite the fact that I did not have depression... as far as I'm aware) and it's lasted with me ever since (6 years or so). I also totally relate to you in the sense that I laugh, smile and have fun still -I would be miserable if I didn't cause then I would have any friends! and it's still kind of fun in a weird, emotionally detached way. Like I sometimes get stimulated by things and get adrenaline, but I won't experience the pleasure that comes with it. I've been feeling really hopeless about it lately, more than I ever have before - especially because I can't find any accounts of people who have dealt with it chronically and recovered.

I can truly relate to your experience and unfortunately have been feeling this way for 2 yrs- It happened for me after I had my baby girl- It seems cruel that I was able to have a healthy baby and have not been able to feel anything for her?! It seems truly unfair! My hope is to feel again, but I don't see how that is going to happen- I keep thinking I can't live like this but I don't think I can leave my daughter without a mother.....

I am a twenty six year old male with a history of mental illness and i have recently realized i have a problem this state of being without feelings. I honestly think its from the drugs they give me, which I can't really complain about since they saved my life. I can sympathize with you because my illness forced me to leave school which killed me because I felt it took my future and hopes away from me. I am stuck in this catch 22 of either don't take medication and be paranoid or take them and feel like an emotionless robot. With treatment I was able to return to school and complete my degree, but I don't feel anything about it though I thought I would. It all really comes down to the dopamine in your brain which is a very sensitive chemical and the truth is there really is no definite answer out there. I know its painful and it really sucks but you just have to keep fighting because that was our fate and what we were meant to battle. The hope that I can give you though is that you could treat it with the right medication, which will help you break away from the apathy. Good luck

wow u sound EXACTLY like me. except im 13.<br />
and i havent got any meds to cure it cuz i cant tell people or theyll think im crazy! but im seeing a physiatrist (or however u spell it) next week so hopefully ill get cured! good luck bro. dont worry, ur not alone.

I stumbled on this today searching for answers to my own problems which are very similar. Bradford, how did things go with the MAOI? How are things now?

Well my experience isn't actually a confirmed one. I have all the symptoms and feelings, or lack there of, but it isnt confirmed as i didnt realize this is actually a condition. It's like the worst imaginable thing could happen to me yet I wouldn't care, i.e the death of my mother or my best friend. I feel as though there's nothing that can make me happy. The worst part is realizing that I will never feel the love anybody can give me but I quickly shake it off without any emotion. I find my self trying to laugh and get into enjoyable conversations but it quickly fades. My childhood was a blur but what I do remember from it is only the negative things. Although I do go through the day as cheery and upbeat it seems when I'm alone with my self for a moment I'm empty. Much like the narrator I lost all my positive feelings but my negative feelings still linger. The jealousy and anger are still there but if these are the only emotions I have then I will hold onto them as they're the only thing I have left to feel normal

I have what the doctors call anhedonia . I got sick two years ago with schitzophrinia and that is what caused the anhedonia. I used to be outgoing and headstrong. Now all I want to do is smoke a black and mild and go to sleep. I am married with two children who loves me very much. But i can not give them the love they deserve because i am empty inside. I can not feel anything not love hate or any other emotions. I do believe in the lord Jesus Christ I have to hold on and believe that God will heal me again. I have to just wait on him and I know my feelings will come back in his time

I used to be like that as well outgoing, headstrong, enthusiastic, energetic. They gave me meds for schizophrenia and I was dumbed down. Like an elephant taking a sedative. Now the only emotion in me is's the only thing I feel sometimes and I feel like crying even if I know i should be happy or any other emotion trying to go overboard that you can possibly think of... that's me... crying.
I have a problem though cause I believe not in Jesus or any other religion so might as well shoot myself already for I have no way to fix myself...

Jesus can heal you. Ask the Lord Jesus into your live to be forgiven of you sins and ask him to heal you. Pray the "Sinner's Pray" and then be sure to REPENT of your sins.

I have had Anhedonia along with chronic Depression Anxiety, Depersonalization and Derealization Disorders, all of which take away your ability to feel ANY emotions at all and I have lived with all these for about 30 years and it is frightening beyond belief to feel you are a robot and cannot connect to people or have normal reactions emotions and experiences to feel alive in any way. I don't know any other way to be. I don't know what emotions are and don't feel pleasure of any kind, things like taking a bath, shower, music, dance, enjoying the weather, a book, any activity at all, people, food, you name it. It is just NOTHING and it has never gone away. Nothing has ever had meaning to me and it is like being dead and since I am a CHRISTIAN, i have come to believe and understand so much of what has happened to me and that GOD will and can heal this and AND any illness whether the world believes or understands it or not. This is not of GOD and if you know that, then PRAY for continual healing because they answers are there. I am convinced much of Anhedonia is due to imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain and or often hormones and endocrine glands have a huge part in depression, anxiety and all brain disorders.
Hope this helps.

Just out of curiosity, did you purposefully or accidentally access anything occult related or go to any "spiritual warfare" websites around the time the schizophrenia began? I am also a Christian and am struggling with the same thing. I'm pretty sure it began in my life when I researching about "spiritual warfare" and came across some websites that contained information that would had been better than I never read. We must be very careful what we open ourselves up to. By the way, my wife and 9 year old son love me very much. I wish I could feel love for them, but can't without any positive emotions. Hope God will deliver you and I from this so that our feeling of love, joy, etc. will return. Don't give up! Keep praying!

1 More Response

I completely get your story, I could have written it entirely. <br />
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The one single thing in life I *am* interested in and emotional about anymore, is fixing my brain chemistry so I stop being robbed of this life.<br />
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I don't have anything to suggest to help you particularly, except perhaps read my stories in this group as I will be posting more. I would like to think that some of my ideas may help others in the moments where they can muster some interest in their own recovery. (Universe knows I don't give a rat's *** sometimes, because I can't feel a darn thing.) <br />
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Take care!

Actually Squish, judging from other posts she(?) has written since then I think she has recovered.

well, that sounds a lot like the condition i keep going in and out of these days.

It would not be better if we were born this way rather than acquired it later- either way, you still feel halfway unconscious and that's not something you just wouldn't notice. With anhedonia it's not so much the total absence of any shred of happiness that makes it so bad. It's more that feeling of being halfway dead: permanently. It's like you're not even alive, there's a constant feeling that something is missing, something really really big. There's no worse condition in the world except maybe torture.

I couldn't have said it better.

I'm deeply studying astrology and I'm looking for a connection between one's natal chart and Anhedonia. I've already seen one persons and there's a suspicious similarity between ours. You can email me your chart or email your date of birth and city. If you know the hour and minute you can get your rising sign too and it will be even more accurate. I think I'm going to find some interesting things.

Hi i have my natal chart would you care to look into that??? can I send you an e-mail still?

I have it too. It started about 2 years back when I stopped feeling sadness, just like Bradford said, the emotions leave you gradually. After 2 years now, I've lost all of them all of a sudden. I can't feel for anyone, I don't care, I don't feel love, hate, joy, sadness, anger, nothing. I used to be an extremely sensitive person, sympathetic and empathetic, now I've lost it all and apathy has taken over. I swear, I wouldn't even care if anything happened to my mom. I can't even feel any love for her anymore. =/ I don't know what to do. I haven't even genuinely smiled/laughed for almost 3 months now. Like Bradford said, its just a camouflage. We just do it to blend with the society. We don't do it from our heart.<br />
There's nothing worse than this. I would rather be afflicted with cancer or something than this..

YES, I know that teary enjoyment that you wrote of, Narrator. I get it as well, when i see people being incredibly kind to one another. When someone is kind to me, however, I don't feel anything. Well, maybe that I'm perhaps not worthy of attention. <br />
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I once had dreams and goals. I was a world famous musician, ten years ago. Now I'm considering selling my instruments. People have Emailed to tell me that since I'm "apparently not doing .anything with" my website, they'd like to buy the URL. It seems to me that selling it would be giving up, and I'm not ready to give up. But that's about it. <br />
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Thank you for mentioning the enjoyment you get from seeing others having a passionate life. :)

I only heard the term Anhedonia a week ago from my counseller but since then it's opened my eyes about a lot of things. I was also a professional musician living on stress and adrenaline and loved every minute, although I am convinced I caused this condition myself through a combination of prescription pain-killers and recreational drugs. Over the last 5 years it has ruined my social-life, my sex-life, caused writer's-block and nearly drove me to end it all a few times.
Music has always been my life and without it I feel lost and alone but at least knowing there are other people in a similar state to myself gives me strength to try and beat this thing.

It's funny how more than one musician on here hs had anhedonia... I find that singing songs is one of the only realy doorways into feeling emotion, but even that is fizzling out slowly over time. I used to sing with so much demotion it would often make them cry or embarass them. Ah well. Maybe things will change. Has there been some positive progression for you since this post until now?

All the best


I have this too. Some facts about me:<br />
Conversation is not enjoyable with 99% of people. I might meet 1 or 2 people a year that when talking to them I don't want to fall asleep. Even then my brain just seems to quickly adapt again to that level of conversation and it's not long before those people are boring to me too.<br />
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I don't have any hobbies or pursuits. I've tried everything you name it: guitar, exercise, yoga, reading, focusing on career, etc. Everything feels pointless in life as I do not receive any happiness from said activities. Someone described it to me as: life is just a ton of carrots on a stick and for you it's just the sticks.

Hey, let me know if you get this message. I suffer from the exact kind of anhedonia that you describe (no sadness, but no other kinds of emotions either). Anhedonia without accompanying sadness is rare, I've found. My e-mail address is csm2109 (at) and I'd like to get in touch with you. -Camille

Hey, let me know if you get this message. I suffer from the exact kind of anhedonia that you describe (no sadness, but no other kinds of emotions either). Anhedonia without accompanying sadness is rare, I've found. My e-mail address is csm2109 (at) and I'd like to get in touch with you. -Camille

I've only just learnt this word, anhedonia. It's a double edged sword though because knowing it's a known condition means there's hope, but knowing it's a known condition can also give you a convenient hole to fall further into. <br />
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I've thought back and I've had it all my life to one degree or another, but now at 52, it seems to have deepened. I used to get pleasure out of one or two things (writing included). But I don't complete things, or life gets in the way (or anhedonia gets in the way). <br />
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I guess part of me thinks of those things now with similar lack of feeling because I can't seem to achieve the goals I wanted with them. Sort of like my last best hope has joined the rest of life in becoming distant. I don't even feel sad about the loss. <br />
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Oddly, I get a teary enjoyment of seeing others achieve moments of happiness or success, kind of like living vicariously through them.

atypical depression what is that? We dont even have good docs here in Mexico...yes I live in Mexico and it sucks because they dont have good docs for this kind of things first I went with two women and they just didnt get it tought I was kidding because they think a girl cannot be like this you know and then the last doc I got hes a good doc but weve been changing meds and so far Ive only changed meds twice and this last one hasnt made much change up til now im not sure what else to take though my family doesnt get it at all I used to feel a lot like you said before...and now I dont have any feeling left in me Im not sure what happened to me ... all I know is that I used my emotions for everything and then after certain events in my life they started to dissapear I dont even get angry shame is the last thing that seems to be left in me...and only that...its pityful as you said because today I saw some old friends and I had no way of dealing with them because I didnt even know what to say my friend looked at me like expecting me to say something emotional and at some point I thinkkk she was mad but I couldnt get their emotions at all im sure I said some stupid things and the worst part is I didnt even weird is that? uhm...I think im gonna go crazy without my emotions I need them to survive I really do ...I mean I dont even care if I die or not...its just weird...I really hope this new pill helps me cause if it doesnt Im not sure what else Ill do I dont even have money to go to the doc =s

My latest doctor says it's atypical depression, and is putting me on MAOIs. We'll see if that works. It'll be a few months.

cerise333 -- Yes, it's tough, I know. But the important thing is, it IS temporary! It's just a symptom of your depression. It doesn't take a miracle to fix it, it just takes a doctor. (No matter how impossible your depression makes that sound, it's true.) Hugs, and let us know how it goes.

hey there I have anhedonia as well though im not sure if its temporary or not but its like hell and nobody understands I tried telling my family but they just dont get it ...Im being treated for depression but right now i dont even feel like crying or anything I still cry sometimes not sure why though and its been going on for 2 months now... its just like I dont feel anymore im not happy anymore tried to laugh but cannot does not come from inside so yeah I thought about suicide because I dont see any point of living if you dont have emotions...and oh well I pretty much am still here because of my family they just dont get it anyway I just cant feel happy like I used to before ... I really would like to have a miracle happen right now because for a girl having anhedonia I mean its just not normal dont you think? ...well of course its not since I just went googling it had little results on it eitherway I swear if I ever get my feelings back again I will be the happiest person on earth but Im not sure what to do about it just have to wait ¿?....and as you said we need emotions to live if not were just zombies I like to adress myself right now as a zombie cause im "a living dead" im alive but dont live... anyway just wanted to know that maybe I wasnt the only one I used to draw as well also painted but now that gift as I liked to call it before I started getting depressed has completely dissapeared...

ArmyWifeUK - <br />
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It's hard to explain. Suicidal thoughts aren't really emotional, other than a pervasive feeling of hopelessness. It's the way your thoughts run: "What's the point of living? I've been doing a lousy job of it so far. I might as well give up." Thoughts like that are standard for depression... not just when things get tough, but all the freaking time, day after day, right alongside thoughts like "I should wash the dishes." (And it seems perfectly reasonable....)<br />
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It's possible, too, that there's some emotion related to wanting to live, the joy of living, that's absent.<br />
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Of course, to be complete... for me, there was a subtle progression when my emotions started going away. I had about a year or two when I could still feel anguish and humiliation, before those went away, too. Probably because they're particularly appropriate to depression. I'm sure I felt suicidal then, sometimes. But it's still possible, afterwards.<br />
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Do I think it's harder to have felt emotions and then lost them? I had to think about this for a while. Yes, I think so. Emotions are a sense, just like sight or hearing, telling you what you think about the world around you. (*)<br />
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I imagine it's harder for a blind or deaf person who wasn't always blind or deaf. It's possible that someone like this from birth would figure it was normal. Or, at least, consider themselves much calmer than everyone else.<br />
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* - I'm not just making a comparison; I'm dead serious about this. Interior designers use words like "ambiance" and "atmosphere" to describe how a room makes you feel. No matter where I am, everything looks flat, lifeless, as if the structure of it is right there and, simultaneously, the soul of it is miles away. I'm not sure if I could ever explain it properly.<br />
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Anyway, be grateful for the sixth sense you never knew you had. :)

WOW - thats ....WOW.....I'm kind of speachless. I heard of someone once who my mum told me didn't feel emotions..... I never really got it. He was someone famous, I guess it doesn't matter who he was. <br />
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Hope you don't mind me asking but if you felt suicidal then were there emotions attatched to that? I suppose because it's not so well heard of people find it hard to understand. I know I do. Do you think it's harder having felt emotion and losing it or would you think it would be better to have never felt emotion? Like you wouldn't know what you're missing because you never had it? Sorry for asking so many questions I just don't know much about it.......

Bradford,<br />
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Are you a Christian??? Did you ask God to heal you from the anhedonia???


Oh, one thing I didn't say: it happened gradually. The good emotions went first. Then the middling emotions. Anger and embarrassment went last, I think, maybe 2-3 years later. So if you're experiencing something like that, get it checked out!

Wow, that must be tough. I often thought I didn't feel emotion like other people, but after reading your story I realize how wrong I was. I sincerley hope there is an answer out there somewhere for you.