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Title: How do I deal with anhedonia
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#1
I can't seem to enjoy anything. Nothing makes me excited and what used to be fun is now no longer fun. Music, tv shows, games, movies, socializing, nothing is fun anymore. I feel as though this south park episode describes exactly what I'm going through.



 
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#2
When I feel highly engaged in what I am doing, I can temporarily feel immersed in some activity or entertainment. Mental stimulation is my favorite drug. It comes with a sense of significance as richly meaningful events unfold all around me. But I can't stay mentally stimulated forever, and when the mental stimulation ends I may experience stimulation withdrawal. I can find myself craving any form of mental stimulation, but like a drug that has worn its use, temporarily I cannot achieve it and in place I will feel intense boredom.

It helps me to see this pattern which has occurred for me more times than I can count. We are taught to seek interesting things, to captivate our attention. And when our attention is fully captivated and we are completely mesmerized by something, we are taught to value this as the way life ought to be. But when the excitement is gone, right underneath it there is often a sense of urgency and compulsiveness. It is the need to stay continuously enchanted and the fear of disenchantment.

The disenchantment phenomenon tells me that I do not care at a deeper level about what I am experiencing on the surface. If I could force myself to care, I would. But this is outside my jurisdiction. What matters to me isn't really up to me to choose, but it is my responsibility to find it. No one can ever tell another person what deeply matters to another. We can't even tell ourselves what deeply matters to us. But we can find it. We are given a clue when something that we want to enjoy becomes meaningless. This can be depressing when we feel it is futile to find something we actually care about, but when we do find what we deeply care about we then have the possibility of aligning the surface of our lives with the depth of who we are.

We then experience the same sense of being highly engaged, but this sense reaches even deeper. It is even more full. Now we are mentally engaged in a direction that has deeper meaning to us and it feels much more enjoyable and delightful as we are able to bring more of ourselves into whichever direction we choose.

Life often feels like an onion to me, and for a while a path may fulfill me, but in time the superficial layer wears off and I am left feeling directionless. I am forced to reach deeper and as I find something that matters to me at a deeper level I can feel engaged again, but even that direction might wear off one day as well. The journey of life leads me to knowing myself at deeper and deeper levels with the result of feeling more deeply fulfilled then I ever thought possible. But I also get to experience the emptiness when my activities don't really reflect my values. I can only fool myself for so long.

It has helped me to let go of what no longer engages me rather than trying to bring it back to life. When I was little I used to enjoy playing with all sorts of toys that are meaningless to me now, and if I were to attempt to keep myself entertained by them, in time it would all become frustratingly meaningless anyway.  This isn't a problem, it's a blessing. I can't stay stuck when something within me wants so much to grow and experience bringing the depth of who I am all the way up to the surface.
 
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#3
Nice post. But, for me the problem isn't that I can't enjoy one or two things, it's that absolutely everything gives me no joy. It's like my brain's pleasure center isn't working. Exercise is supposed to be rewarding, but I feel nothing from it. Fast food and junk food is supposed to taste good and make you crave it, but it doesn't taste good at all and in fact most junk food, especially those with high sugar, are disgusting for me.

Once in a blue moon I'll be able to enjoy certains things again but it'll only last for a day. I have no idea why. I've been feeling this way for more than 4 years now.
 
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#4
You seem to be at a point where every direction appears meaningless. This is a really valuable place to be. I spent years seeing everything become increasingly meaningless. But it wasn't really everything, I was limited to the possibilities I was aware of given everything I had experienced up until that point in my life.

Our culture advertises to us all the directions that are supposed to be exciting. We see smiling faces on people enjoying all the things that are supposed to satisfy us. Inevitably it all becomes increasingly meaningless. We seem to require something more or better or different to continue feeling the same amount of enjoyment. No one can enjoy watching the same movie again and again, no matter how good the movie is. We are left perpetually scrambling for more and more just to maintain the same amount of enjoyment. We become hamsters on a wheel that have to run faster and faster just to stay still.

When we can see that this isn't working out as well as we'd once hoped, we are in a very powerful place. We get to wonder why all those directions faded out and what do we do when nothing seems to mean anything anymore. From this place the most helpful thing I have experienced is honesty. I learned to admit to myself over and over that I am not as satisfied as I'd like to be and I don't know why. This opened my mind to seeing something I hadn't seen before.

Being honest as we can with ourselves brings relief. Instead of painting a positive or negative picture, we're simply saying here I am, at this point, and I don't know where to go from here in order to feel the way I'd like to feel. With each attempt to be honest with myself, the relentless push to achieve a vaguely defined path to contentment that never worked became replaced by clarity. Here I am. Here's what I know. Here's what I don't know.

In time I learn to recognize the urgency and not try to satisfy it. I begin to see any desire that comes from a place of urgency can never be satisfied for long and always needs more the next time. I learned to let the urgency burn itself out. As urgency fades, I slowly become more aware of what is most important to me. The urgency keeps a lot of stuff hidden. It is like having someone yelling "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" in your ear 24 hours a day.

A helpful step for me was to meditate, which really was pausing and just feeling the urgency pull on me and watching it pull and pull and pull. In time the pull fades because I'm not responding to it.
 
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#5
I have suffered from anhedonia for 2 years and i can definetely say that like major depression, it is very difficult to treat anhedonia on your own and often it is impossible to do. Since in most cases anhedonia is a symptom of some other disease, and it is necessary to treat the disease itself. Anhedonia will disappear throughout the treatment.

However, there are a number of tips dealing with anhedonia which helped me:

The correct day regime – good night’s sleep, regular meals, and physical exercises;
The diet should consist of several sources of serotonin – chocolate, fresh fruit;
Focus on pleasant and positive moments, try to do everything on your own in order to make a moment positive and pleasant;
Psychotherapeutic correction such as Gestalt therapy, behavioral techniques, psychoanalysis;
Pharmacological correction – doctors may prescribe antidepressants.
 
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#6
Interesting, can you go into more detail regarding the Psychotherapeutic correction?
 
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