Anhedonia: Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery Period
What Tests are Conducted to Diagnose Anhedonia?
There are two main methods of diagnosing anhedonia. These are laboratory method and Interview-based method. The interview-based method has been the most commonly used method of diagnosing the extent of Anhedonia disorder in a patient. The physician examines the patients' routines and daily life style by asking questions to determine his/ her state of emotion, and other things as well. Some of the methods of questioning that can be employed include:
- Schedule for the deficit syndrome (SDS): This is used to categorize schizophrenic patients into those who have it and those who do not have deficit syndrome
- Scale for Emotional Blunting (SEB): This is a method of assessing the extent of behavioral variation of fronto temporal dementia and the level of apathy.
- Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS): This is the scale used to determine the level of negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
- Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS): PANSS or positive and negative syndrome scale is a scale used to measure the extent of severity of schizophrenia symptoms.
Out of the above mentioned tests, SANS (Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms) has been identified as the best and commonly used measure of anhedonia since it contains the Anhedonia-Associality Subscale. It comprehensively takes care of the personal hobbies, feeling of intimacy, social interaction, and sexual activities. Findings are rated on a scale of 0-5, and scored to find out the extent of damage caused by anhedonia.
Apart from the above questioning methods, the Revised Social Anhedonia Scale (RSA) and the Physical Anhedonia Scale (PSA), which are simple self-administered questions, determine how they react to some positive and negative stimuli.
Some of these self-help tests can be found online here.
What is the Treatment of Anhedonia?
After being diagnosed of anhedonia, the next thing would be to treat anhedonia. First, you need to go see a psychiatric, who will examine you and determine the best course of treatment to prescribe to you. Anhedonia can be treated with either a mixture of both medications and psychotherapy. That is known as psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment.
In treatment of anhedonia with psychotherapy, the following treatment can be followed:
- By doing regular physical exercises that will transport chemicals to the brain in order to activate the mood. The exercise method has been widely approved as one of the best methods of treating the disorder of anhedonia.
- Yoga is another method that has been proven to help treat anhedonia, which may be done alone. It helps calm the mind, keeping anxiety under control so it doesn't develop too fast.
- Anhedonia can also be treated by living a healthy lifestyle like eating a well-balanced diet, refrain from smoking and too much alcohol consumption.
- Stop yourself from thinking too much. When you think too much, you judge yourself and feel you will feel horrible about yourself. Although it will take time to stop thinking too much, but with lots of practice and gradually, you will get better.
- Taking enough regular sleep can relax and repair tired your brain tissues.
- Since most people with anhedonia often withdraw from the public, they hardly go out and always stay indoors, it is advisable for them to go out a lot and receive fresh air and sunshine.
On the other hand, pharmacological treatment have been found and developed to treat anhedonia, most of which have proven to be successful over the years. These are:
- Dopamine Agonists such as Ropinirole, Apomorphine, Pramipexxole, Rotigotine, Bromocriptine, etc. are helpful for anhedonia.
- Serotonin Receptor Antagonist such as low dose Fluoexitine, Buspirone, etc. can also be used for anhedonia.
- Stimulants can be used for anhedonia, such as Dextroamphetamine, Methylphenidate, etc…
- MAOIS, such as Selegiline, Parnate, etc…
- SSRE such as Taineptine can be helpful for anhedonia patients.
- Other drugs like, Amantadine, Nicotine, Levodopa, Phenylethylamine, Bupropion, L-Tyrosine,Wort, SAM-E, L-Theanine, St. John's, and so many others, have also been used.
The use of some of these drugs have shown some adverse effects on the patients such as heart problems, tolerance, hephtatoxity, addiction, high blood pressure, etc… and are not available in the U.S. Most of them cannot be used alone; they are usually administered with some other psychotherapy.
What are the Difficulties Experienced and Expected in the Recovery Period of Anhedonia?
In severe depressive disorder, caused by cases of addiction, in which the individual is at the recovery stage and trying to withdraw from such habits, Anhedonia usually comes in full force and may last for a very long time. If the person is not persistent in adhering to medications and therapy, he or she may fail, back to their old habits. Therefore, there is need to be persistent in doing the following to ensure full recovery of anhedonia:
- Since motivation is lacking in the person with anhedonia, it is then very vital that the individual suffering from Anhedonia should be persistent and well-motivated by family and the physician for early recovery.
- People with anhedonia often struggle to absorb information. This may be a very big problem, considering that they need all the information they can get to help them work on themselves.
- Since most people with anhedonia find it difficult to experience rewards, this can be a problem and this may reduce progress and the individual may even plunge back to previous condition.
- When an individual has anhedonia with some other persistent diseases, such as ulcer, cancer, and HIV, it will become difficult to totally deal and recover from anhedonia.
What are the Best Ways of Dealing with Anhedonia While in the Recovery Period?
In order to properly deal with Anhedonia and recover very fast, the individual should strongly follow the below mentioned techniques by researchers:
- They need to know everything they should about anhedonia that will help their recovery, bearing in mind that it can be take care of and that various alternatives of treatment exist. You can always get more information, if you think you know everything then you are wrong, you have to conduct research periodically and find if there are any newer techniques have been created.
- Once the disorder of anhedonia is detected, it is very necessary to consult a physician and not just opt for self-treatment alone. This problem may persist if the individual fail to consult a physician.
- For those with severe case of anhedonia, they should opt for antidepressant drugs, which can work faster.
- People dealing with this disorder should persistently practice yoga, as it is a very good method of healing the mind and it works very well.
- The individual should persist with regular physical exercises.
What is the Prognosis and Recovery Period for Anhedonia?
Various cases of treatment of anhedonia have shown varied levels of improvement on different individuals. For some, the psychotherapy had worked for them, while some had to use a combination of psychotherapy and drug prescribed treatments. Some who use the pharmacological treatment had experienced some kind of adverse effect, while some had not.
Nevertheless, since there are various methods of treatment, there would always be one method that would work for each person, no matter the body chemistry and structure. All what is needed to be done is to try each method to determine the one that works best and stick to it. The best process is to try both treatments prescribed by your physician and some other remedies and be persistent with your therapy and medications, and you will finally overcome this problem of anhedonia.