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Just The Wind

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    Just The Wind got a reaction from arcentaus in How did you experience anhedonia when you first got it versus how it is now?   
    It's a slightly difficult to say exactly, considering how broad the term can be used and attributed to a wide subset regarding motivation and reward. This is further compounded by the fact that mood disorders in general can affect people in very different ways. So, no two people may experience MDD, GAD or anhedonia or treatments therein exactly the same way as another.
    Generally, I would categorize the way that I've experienced anhedonic symptoms into two broad categories.
    There is the type of "anhedonia" most commonly observed and reported as a direct symptom of depressive, or major depressive disorders. This is much how I would describe the first 10 years of my untreated MDD in which I had a "reduction" or "loss" in interest or enjoyment in activities or experiences that I once enjoyed before the onset of depression. In other words, the same way you wouldn't necessarily want to go out and have fun the same week that a close relative died. This is how I would describe my loss of interest directly related to depressive symptoms. It's not that the ability to enjoy things has simply "gone away", it's more like I was simply too preoccupied with my sadness and depression to enjoy things the same way that I could before. Granted, this type of disinterest wasn't always as bad as it sounds. With depressive symptoms of anhedonia, there came varying degrees of malcontent. There are good weeks, and there are bad weeks. There are good months, and there's bad months. In other words, it never stayed at exactly the same level, it could fluctuate considerably. And in a way, this almost made those windows of good days feel that much more valuable and importantly to me. Like a loved one that you only get to see for certain periods of time. As an addendum I will note that extreme periods of untreated anxiety and/or depression do have a high probability of making the next episode of anxiety and depression worse, and more likely to occur. I did experience this, though again, this isn't guaranteed and may be different for someone else. This is part of the reason why seeking early treatment for anxiety/ depression / anhedonia are so critically important, and may drastically decrease the amount of time and complications involved in attaining complete remissions from aforesaid symptoms, which I do believe is 100% possible for most to all sufferers of these conditions. The second way that I experience "anhedonia" and perhaps the much, much worse iteration of the condition happened just recently after approximately 10 years of untreated generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorders. The second instance was brought about by an extended period of several months to a year of intense unmitigated stress compounded primarily by anxiety and secondarily by depression. This is a period in which I believe the intense stress that I was experiencing simply became so great in such a concentrated period of time that parts of my mind/brain simply began shutting down as an evolutionary self defense mechanism. Which seems consistent with other accounts I have read, as well as with input made by my therapist on the matter. The way this manifested in me was with an extended period (around 3 months) of what has been called "anxiety induced depersonalizion / derealization disorder, in which I experienced complete and abstract detachment from myself, my identity, as well as my feelings and emotions including the connection I felt between myself and my surroundings/ loved ones. Where I would describe my first experience with anhedonia as a "reduction" in the ability to feel pleasure. I would describe this experience as a complete absence in my mind's ability to process pleasure along with almost every single other emotion. Anger, fear, love, affection, embarrassment, sexual attraction, everything. Like these things belonged to someone else, someone who wasn't me. After 10 years of intermittent paranoia and  thanatophobia associated with anxiety, I wish I could describe what it was like to suddenly have no feeling toward the concept of death whatsoever. I felt the same way about the things that were happening to me that you might feel about an extra in a random TV series that you've never watched and don't even care about. What I can say is that it has to be one of the most intensely uncomfortable and painful experiences that any sane person can feel without even having the emotions to react properly to it. I never even realized how much I took the ability to cry for granted before I went through this.  
    While not everyone may experience depersonalization or derealization after extended periods of extreme stress. The complete loss of emotion and reactivity to pleasure and motivation directly following periods of extreme stress, that many will go on to attribute to anhedonia, is still very much the same. I've had some success clawing my way out of the depersonalization, however, the affects of anhedonia and emotional blunting are much more pervasive to heal from. I feel like it would be best to think of anhedonia the same way that you would think of a very serious physical injury to a vital organ. It CAN heal, and a complete recovery IS possible. However, you have to keep in mind that your brain, just like any other organ, will take some TIME to steadily heal itself. Over the last several months I've probably seen marginal improvements by doing all of the things that you're suppose to do for healing physically/ mentally. Getting weekly aerobic exercise, eating right, avoiding drugs, getting enough light/sleep/vitamins, socializing as much as I can and seeking treatment through therapy and medication. Most importantly, keeping stress/anxiety levels as low as possible for as long as possible. Something akin to relearning how to walk. I'll be honest about the fact that I'm still no where near being the same as I used to be, yet. Nor do I feel like I'm even close to deciding whether I want to continue living, as disheartening as that sounds. However, that will depend heavily on how much I do, or don't improve in the coming months, and how close I feel like I can come to regaining at-least a base-line of my previous emotions and enjoyment that allowed me to continue living like something that is perhaps remotely human. Though I still have a host of blood tests, brain scans and yet untried therapy/ medication options before I start resorting to more extreme options. If I can't completely convince myself to care about living anymore, at the very least I can drive myself to get better, or die trying.   
    Sorry for being so long winded, but I hope this helps at-least a little bit. Just remember that each and every person experiences these things a little bit differently. You or I could very easily be the next success stories that we all read about. They do exist.
  2. Like
    Just The Wind got a reaction from OnceandFuture in How did you experience anhedonia when you first got it versus how it is now?   
    It's a slightly difficult to say exactly, considering how broad the term can be used and attributed to a wide subset regarding motivation and reward. This is further compounded by the fact that mood disorders in general can affect people in very different ways. So, no two people may experience MDD, GAD or anhedonia or treatments therein exactly the same way as another.
    Generally, I would categorize the way that I've experienced anhedonic symptoms into two broad categories.
    There is the type of "anhedonia" most commonly observed and reported as a direct symptom of depressive, or major depressive disorders. This is much how I would describe the first 10 years of my untreated MDD in which I had a "reduction" or "loss" in interest or enjoyment in activities or experiences that I once enjoyed before the onset of depression. In other words, the same way you wouldn't necessarily want to go out and have fun the same week that a close relative died. This is how I would describe my loss of interest directly related to depressive symptoms. It's not that the ability to enjoy things has simply "gone away", it's more like I was simply too preoccupied with my sadness and depression to enjoy things the same way that I could before. Granted, this type of disinterest wasn't always as bad as it sounds. With depressive symptoms of anhedonia, there came varying degrees of malcontent. There are good weeks, and there are bad weeks. There are good months, and there's bad months. In other words, it never stayed at exactly the same level, it could fluctuate considerably. And in a way, this almost made those windows of good days feel that much more valuable and importantly to me. Like a loved one that you only get to see for certain periods of time. As an addendum I will note that extreme periods of untreated anxiety and/or depression do have a high probability of making the next episode of anxiety and depression worse, and more likely to occur. I did experience this, though again, this isn't guaranteed and may be different for someone else. This is part of the reason why seeking early treatment for anxiety/ depression / anhedonia are so critically important, and may drastically decrease the amount of time and complications involved in attaining complete remissions from aforesaid symptoms, which I do believe is 100% possible for most to all sufferers of these conditions. The second way that I experience "anhedonia" and perhaps the much, much worse iteration of the condition happened just recently after approximately 10 years of untreated generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorders. The second instance was brought about by an extended period of several months to a year of intense unmitigated stress compounded primarily by anxiety and secondarily by depression. This is a period in which I believe the intense stress that I was experiencing simply became so great in such a concentrated period of time that parts of my mind/brain simply began shutting down as an evolutionary self defense mechanism. Which seems consistent with other accounts I have read, as well as with input made by my therapist on the matter. The way this manifested in me was with an extended period (around 3 months) of what has been called "anxiety induced depersonalizion / derealization disorder, in which I experienced complete and abstract detachment from myself, my identity, as well as my feelings and emotions including the connection I felt between myself and my surroundings/ loved ones. Where I would describe my first experience with anhedonia as a "reduction" in the ability to feel pleasure. I would describe this experience as a complete absence in my mind's ability to process pleasure along with almost every single other emotion. Anger, fear, love, affection, embarrassment, sexual attraction, everything. Like these things belonged to someone else, someone who wasn't me. After 10 years of intermittent paranoia and  thanatophobia associated with anxiety, I wish I could describe what it was like to suddenly have no feeling toward the concept of death whatsoever. I felt the same way about the things that were happening to me that you might feel about an extra in a random TV series that you've never watched and don't even care about. What I can say is that it has to be one of the most intensely uncomfortable and painful experiences that any sane person can feel without even having the emotions to react properly to it. I never even realized how much I took the ability to cry for granted before I went through this.  
    While not everyone may experience depersonalization or derealization after extended periods of extreme stress. The complete loss of emotion and reactivity to pleasure and motivation directly following periods of extreme stress, that many will go on to attribute to anhedonia, is still very much the same. I've had some success clawing my way out of the depersonalization, however, the affects of anhedonia and emotional blunting are much more pervasive to heal from. I feel like it would be best to think of anhedonia the same way that you would think of a very serious physical injury to a vital organ. It CAN heal, and a complete recovery IS possible. However, you have to keep in mind that your brain, just like any other organ, will take some TIME to steadily heal itself. Over the last several months I've probably seen marginal improvements by doing all of the things that you're suppose to do for healing physically/ mentally. Getting weekly aerobic exercise, eating right, avoiding drugs, getting enough light/sleep/vitamins, socializing as much as I can and seeking treatment through therapy and medication. Most importantly, keeping stress/anxiety levels as low as possible for as long as possible. Something akin to relearning how to walk. I'll be honest about the fact that I'm still no where near being the same as I used to be, yet. Nor do I feel like I'm even close to deciding whether I want to continue living, as disheartening as that sounds. However, that will depend heavily on how much I do, or don't improve in the coming months, and how close I feel like I can come to regaining at-least a base-line of my previous emotions and enjoyment that allowed me to continue living like something that is perhaps remotely human. Though I still have a host of blood tests, brain scans and yet untried therapy/ medication options before I start resorting to more extreme options. If I can't completely convince myself to care about living anymore, at the very least I can drive myself to get better, or die trying.   
    Sorry for being so long winded, but I hope this helps at-least a little bit. Just remember that each and every person experiences these things a little bit differently. You or I could very easily be the next success stories that we all read about. They do exist.
  3. Like
    Just The Wind got a reaction from Tilted in Is Anhedonia rare?   
    I think part of the problem in determining this kind of thing is that, as a colloquial term, what one person may describe as anhedonia might be significantly different from what another may be experiencing. Adding to the complications that everyone experiences anxiety and depression a little bit differently, this really turns into a semantic mess. For instance: I experienced a "loss of interest" or desire in a lot of things that I used to enjoy during the first 10 or so years of my depression, and if you were to define the word anhedonia for me at the time, I probably would have agreed that the definition fit me. However, after experiencing this recent episode of anxiety induced depersonalization, the nature of the illness changed quite considerably.
    Where, as before, I would describe my experiences as a significant reduction of the ability to enjoy things. I COULD still experience the sensation. It's just extremely difficult to enjoy anything when you're sad all the time. After depersonalizing from myself though, I would describe this as a neurological inability to experience emotion or pleasure what so ever. Everyone in your family could die, and it doesn't matter. You could win a million dollars and it doesn't matter. Can't experience pleasure, fear, anger, embarrassment, or sadness. Romantic and sexual attraction are gone as though they never existed. There's just nothing. So, from my perspective, I would consider anhedonia as an evolutionary defense mechanism triggered by, and as a symptom of extreme, prolonged anxiety, rather than as a symptom of depression.
    But then again, who's to say? A person who's been paralyzed, and a person who has lost their legs may experience similar symptoms of immobility, but in different ways. Recommending spinal surgery may be useless for someone without legs, and trying to fit prosthetic limbs wouldn't help someone who's paralyzed. However, mood disorders and similar afflictions aren't as simple as just looking at a physical ailment, and perhaps that's really where the problem lies. Maybe there should different, more specific words to describe and differentiate between these particular niche's. All I can say is that the way I experienced "anhedonia" when I was severely depressed, and the way I experienced it after depersonalization are significantly different, and I think there is a confusion that exists in the medical, and psychiatric community as well. Which makes trying to find the proper treatment extremely frustrating since everything is just thrown under the same umbrella, whenever it probably shouldn't be. At-least not in such a generalized way.
  4. Like
    Just The Wind got a reaction from Mercaba in Is Anhedonia rare?   
    Some recent reading on anhedonia that echos many of the same concerns and feelings that I have about the condition.
    Source
  5. Like
    Just The Wind got a reaction from Mercaba in Is Anhedonia rare?   
    I think part of the problem in determining this kind of thing is that, as a colloquial term, what one person may describe as anhedonia might be significantly different from what another may be experiencing. Adding to the complications that everyone experiences anxiety and depression a little bit differently, this really turns into a semantic mess. For instance: I experienced a "loss of interest" or desire in a lot of things that I used to enjoy during the first 10 or so years of my depression, and if you were to define the word anhedonia for me at the time, I probably would have agreed that the definition fit me. However, after experiencing this recent episode of anxiety induced depersonalization, the nature of the illness changed quite considerably.
    Where, as before, I would describe my experiences as a significant reduction of the ability to enjoy things. I COULD still experience the sensation. It's just extremely difficult to enjoy anything when you're sad all the time. After depersonalizing from myself though, I would describe this as a neurological inability to experience emotion or pleasure what so ever. Everyone in your family could die, and it doesn't matter. You could win a million dollars and it doesn't matter. Can't experience pleasure, fear, anger, embarrassment, or sadness. Romantic and sexual attraction are gone as though they never existed. There's just nothing. So, from my perspective, I would consider anhedonia as an evolutionary defense mechanism triggered by, and as a symptom of extreme, prolonged anxiety, rather than as a symptom of depression.
    But then again, who's to say? A person who's been paralyzed, and a person who has lost their legs may experience similar symptoms of immobility, but in different ways. Recommending spinal surgery may be useless for someone without legs, and trying to fit prosthetic limbs wouldn't help someone who's paralyzed. However, mood disorders and similar afflictions aren't as simple as just looking at a physical ailment, and perhaps that's really where the problem lies. Maybe there should different, more specific words to describe and differentiate between these particular niche's. All I can say is that the way I experienced "anhedonia" when I was severely depressed, and the way I experienced it after depersonalization are significantly different, and I think there is a confusion that exists in the medical, and psychiatric community as well. Which makes trying to find the proper treatment extremely frustrating since everything is just thrown under the same umbrella, whenever it probably shouldn't be. At-least not in such a generalized way.
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