Anhedonia: Finding pleasure in neurology

personalized mental healthcare diagnostics

Anhedonia ; The loss of interest and enjoyment in activities that you once liked: the feeling of not caring anymore.

Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure.
It’s a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders, including schizophreniapsychosis, Parkinson’s disease, anorexia nervosa and substance abuse disorders.

Types of Anhedonia

There are two main types of anhedonia:
1. Social anhedonia
You don’t want to spend time with other people.
2. Physical anhedonia
You don’t enjoy physical sensations. A hug leaves you feeling empty rather than nurtured. Your favorite foods taste bland. Even sex can lose its appeal.

Clinical Relevance

Over recent years, there is increased attention to understand physical anhedonia.
Part of the reason for this is that it predicts how well someone with depression will respond to treatment.

Common antidepressants tend to work less well for people who have depression with anhedonia than for those who have depression without anhedonia.

“Recognizing and dealing with anhedonia could save lives.”

Medical News Today

What happens in the brain?

It’s not simple to explain how anhedonia is reflecting in the brain, like in any emotional response. Nevertheless, there is clear evidence that many individuals with anhedonia can experience pleasure in a similar way to the rest of the population, however the reward mechanisms of people suffering from anhedonia are impaired.

The prefrontal cortex seems important for processing of rewards, including cost-benefit analysis and decision-making. It’s connections to the ventral striatum seem to be important in motivation, and therefore anhedonia.


The startup MEDLEY.AI has developed a self-learning algorithm that recognizes anhedonic brain response in patients with mental disorders.

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