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Answers To Curing Anhedonia/numbness/apathy, No. 1


itstrevor

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Trevor keeps stressing that he believes anhedonia generally resolves within 3 years, based on the evidence he's gathered and the personal stories he's read, and that might be true for some or even the majority of people with anhedonia, but there's no denying that there's lots of us who have had it for years, even decades, and waiting it out isn't the answer. I see there are people who have already taken the advice he's given (eat more protein, improve your diet, take an observer approach, abstain from all substances and supplements) and while I appreciate this advice and think it's very valuable, I don't think the "wait it out" approach will work for those of us who have had anhedonia or anhedonia-like symptoms for years.

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I dunno, my uncle has schizophrenia and had to come off of his antipsychotics after getting cancer for chemotherapy and he seemed pretty emotional after coming off of them. I really just don't see any possible mechanism for permanent anhedonia unless there was a physical lesioning of the reward circuits (like a lobotomy) or disease like Alzheimer's. I am seeing improvements even after a few years of this. I guess it's possible for it to persist years out, but even at like 5 years I have seen a small number of people say that it has resolved for them. Obviously saying "go exercise and get over yourself" isn't what I am saying, because it really is a struggle and finding your balance may not be possible at the moment. I guess all you CAN do really is wait it out, and from what I have seen, it seems like it is a viable solution, but there will be a lot of plateaus and frustration along the way. Out of everything I have tried, nothing has been a cure or even comes close to touching it except for things that are a dead end of addiction and tolerance that ultimately make things worse. It's probably possible for permanent anhedonia in some cases, but for the type of anhedonia I have at least, it does not appear to be so.

I'm really not too sure about schizophrenia, because it does not appear that I have it, but I have read of improvement of symptoms over time with or without drugs in many cases. I was on the AAP Abilify for a large number of months, and it does not appear to have a permanent effect. I went on a few others like Seroquel for shorter periods of time. Persistence does not mean permanence, and it may be hard to get over the perpetual anxiety without having tangible evidence that it isn't permanent or is very unlikely to be permanent. Sometimes reaching rock bottom is the only way to force yourself to face the anxiety.

In the end you don't have to DO anything but let the healing happen itself and just wait while maintaining a functioning quality of life and accept the current situation and whatever situation might be thrown at you. This includes accepting being p***** off at the situation which isn't really much of a choice.

And yeah, there will be a lot of irritability and upsetedness. Let it flow and accept it (does not necessarily mean act on it). Like today, I got sort of angry at a girl I know - every time I chat with her she always tries to portray me as naive and somehow "inferior" - trying to "one-up" me with her struggles in life. I don't talk to her about all this that has happened to me - I'm not going to act on it - but I can't really release the irritability due to the anhedonia, so I just accept the feeling and let it gradually fade.

Edited by itstrevor
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What is helping me a little..

Simple games on ps3 (hack and slash type games that don't require much concentration)

Getting back to the gym (heavy squats seems to give me libido for a little bit!)

Green tea in the mornings

Doing things despite the voice in your head telling you you're not getting anything from it ( I know how depressing and hopeless this can seem)

Healthy diet with occasional treats

Planning for the future for when the condition fades, (I also know this seems hopeless)

: )

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Yeah, distractions are basically the only way of getting something out of your head, thus less anxiety spikes. You cannot force yourself to stop thinking about something because in doing that, you are thinking about it. You have to replace an activity with another activity. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is also useful. Lean into the numbness, because that's when the brain realizes it needs to step it up and change.

Green tea has l-theanine and caffeine, which I would avoid, but I'm not sure if it is that big of a deal.

Edited by itstrevor
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The only reason I have green tea in the morning is because my sleep is so bad and my job requires a fair degree of concentration. I may ditch it if the sleep improves.

I'm currently on 50mg sertraline for depression. I have been taking this for a month and have noticed some improvement over the past week. I'm gonna give it another 2 months then speak to doc about tapering to 25mg for another 3 months and then stopping. I need to be free from ssris .. I want to live life without the numbness otherwise it's pointless

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I try not to drink coffee everyday, but usually 4 times a week or so I have a cup of small black coffee in the morning. I've found I sort of need the boost to atleast function.

I have been on selegine patch 6mg (maoi) for about a month now and havent had any improvements. I have found that I catch myself daydreaming about suicide more often but I dont know if thats the medicine or if thats just because the length of time of the anhedonia and the amount of things Ive tried that havent worked, and this just makes another.

My physical anxiety symptoms are also increased, which sucks sometimes. I used to be very good in conversation and comfortable, but I struggle now with blank mind while talking and increased heart rate/anxiety when talking.

And my body seems to be getting worse as far as the joint pain and body aches and weak feeling. Anyone else experience this too?

Still plugging away though. Distractions are definetely important, the only down side is sometimes I get frusterated with myself while doing things because I know I used to be so much better at them. But obviously everything is a lot harder when you are restricted to no emotions and blank mind. Everything is a bit forced, and I feel like I have to fight harder to access knowledge that I have about things that used to be second nature.

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I try not to drink coffee everyday, but usually 4 times a week or so I have a cup of small black coffee in the morning. I've found I sort of need the boost to atleast function.

I have been on selegine patch 6mg (maoi) for about a month now and havent had any improvements. I have found that I catch myself daydreaming about suicide more often but I dont know if thats the medicine or if thats just because the length of time of the anhedonia and the amount of things Ive tried that havent worked, and this just makes another.

My physical anxiety symptoms are also increased, which sucks sometimes. I used to be very good in conversation and comfortable, but I struggle now with blank mind while talking and increased heart rate/anxiety when talking.

And my body seems to be getting worse as far as the joint pain and body aches and weak feeling. Anyone else experience this too?

Still plugging away though. Distractions are definetely important, the only down side is sometimes I get frusterated with myself while doing things because I know I used to be so much better at them. But obviously everything is a lot harder when you are restricted to no emotions and blank mind. Everything is a bit forced, and I feel like I have to fight harder to access knowledge that I have about things that used to be second nature.

What kind of joint pain do you experience? did you discuss these with your dr? Have you ever been tested for lymes,?? Maybe you have some kind of rheumatic disease, such as fybromyalgia.

Edited by sc2
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In tapering SSRIs, I do not recommend taking 25mg sertraline jumps. If you can handle it, then do it, but sometimes taking big jumps causes people to think "uuuhhh I feel so terrible I must need to be on the SSRI this is hopeless!" when in reality taking 0.33mg jumps every day would have been easy.

Edited by itstrevor
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When I tapered paxil without any issues I went from 20 mg to 10 mg by alternating 20 and 10 each day for 2 weeks then dropped to just 10 and carried on doing the same until I stopped.. I'll try this with sertraline

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sc2, the joint pain is sort of hard to describe. In some of my joints, like elbows and shoulders, its a clicking/popping, as if the they dont fit together. My knees feel sore achy. My bones, collarbones espcially, feel weak and brittle as well. I feel as if my body is a bunch of seperate pieces and not one flowing body in unison.

Im going to inquire about lyme disease again to my doctor. He thinks the depression is causing the body pain, because it started 6 months after the start of the depression. Its been 14 months, and for the first 6 I could run, jump, workout and play normally, but then my body started to deteriorate.

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L-theanine also made me feel bad the last time I took, the day after I took it I was irritable.. never gonna take it again. However, the other NMDA agonist I take doesn't have that affect on me so I'm thinking its the dopamine increase that made me feel bad, or possibly the seratonin decrease.

Bivic, effective doses for glycine (for schizophrenia negative symptoms at least) are like 40-60 grams since it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier easily, which is a lot. I'd be interested in knowing if it did anything for you.

I'm finding intense workouts at the gym to be helping with overall mood and energy, but those timeless sort of feelings it's not helping to bring back.

I'm wondering if anyone experienced any improvement after going off their antidepressant in their anhedonia?

Edited by Supernothing
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Meth seems to increase catcholamines to around 10x normal levels, whereas I was at a maximum of 3x normal levels.

http://recoveredmethaddict.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/an-anecdote-to-anhedonia/

http://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/recovery/reclaiming-life-after-the-ravages-of-meth-addiction/ Overcoming Anhedonia

Scientists and researchers know that meth affects the reward center of the brain. In effect, it drains the dopamine supply with the result that activities that used to provide fun, joy, and pleasure no longer are seen as enjoyable. Instead, they seek to lack the spark of life. This is called anhedonia.

Even after a person stops using meth, this part of the brain takes time to heal. But the good news for those seeking to reclaim life after the ravages of meth is that the brain does heal. At the cellular level, damaged receptors and transmitters regrow within 6 to 12 months. Brain scans of recuperating meth addicts show the brain healing itself. Transmitters work again and dopamine levels rise.

Maintaining effective recovery for a period of a year goes a long way toward the restoration of joy in life’s pleasures. You can begin to enjoy life again.

Edited by itstrevor
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http://www.livinghealthy360.com/index.php/recovery-methamphetamine-meth-addiction-stimulants-77694/


Since we have already discussed the role of dopamine:


* Life Seems Impossible Without Meth *


How would you like to wrestle an alligator with your hands tied behind your back? This is how it feels to get off meth. People recovering from meth addiction experience anhedonia, which is an inability to experience pleasure. This is caused by the brain readjusting to not having methamphetamine and thereby producing abnormally low levels of dopamine. The recovering addict has been literally "robbed" of these feelings by the drug and feels doomed to a "half-life" for eternity. Well-meaning relatives and drug counselors tell recovering meth addicts that they will feel better eventually. But that doesn't give the addict very much hope. Just getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed, and putting one foot ahead of the other is excruciatingly hard. This process can take up to 18 months.


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As a topic of conversation. How do you have a relationship when you have anhedonia? If you are in one, what things do you do to make it work? Is it possible? How can a person maintain any kind of functional marriage or significant other when your in anhedonia?

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I don't have a relationship... I avoid situations where there are emotional expectations. It sucks for now, but it's better than being in a situation where I feel stuck with someone who I can't reciprocate feelings. This is the central reason that it's been years since I have dated. I have also frequently heard that relationships are not recommended in the first year of recovery from many psychiatric disturbances like alcoholism or addiction.

Edited by itstrevor
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This is my theory on it.

I've recently quit porn, apparently it has alot of negative effect on the pleasure/emotion centers of the brain.

I noticed my anhedonia/ loss of emotions started around the time where the internet porn was really getting easily accessible, and smartphones allowed me to constantly give me that hit of dopamine.

So i think our dopamine receptors are so insensitive now that we need to give them a break.

http://yourbrainonporn.com/series-1

http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/quitting-porn-prepare-more-vibrant-emotions < interesting

I'd be tempted to take a break from the internet/gaming if that doesnt work and see how that is.

Edited by jaiho
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I agree with bivic's point of view (June 6th) on the longevity of Anhedonia.

As a scientist I out-of-hand reject the anecdotal evidence. I have been experiencing the loss of all pleasure and interest for at least 15 or more years. I get no breaks, no peak experiences or short breakthroughs.

In my case I am very sure it is a result of using Cymbalta, one of the worst Big Phara drugs to ever hit the mentall ill community. Not only did it **** off any enjoyment of life, I gained 40 pounds in a matter of months, and it made me sexually dead. Absolutely no interest in sex and unable to respond physiologically.

My hope was that going off of Cymbalta would, in time as the drug slowly worked its way out of my system that my metabolic rate would return to normal making it possible for me to lose the weight. I was also hoping for a return to sexuality both physiologically and mentally. I was hoping that I would once again enjoy music, have a deeper appreciation for nature, and be able to go back to my hobbies.

I quit Cymbalta at the beginning of November 2013. Not only has nothing returned back to my pre-Cymbalta levels, but I am still suffering some of the side effects of the Cymbalta Withdrawal Syndrome, mostly brain zaps and blurred vision.

I do appreciate the advice that folks offer for ways to defeat Anhedonia, but nothing has helped me.

I continue to live in a world of nothingness, which IMHO begs the question, "Why continue this existence?" I operate at a robotic level. Existence is not living.

If nothing gives me pleasure, happiness, or joy, how am I supposed to be able to give it to someone else? How can I be the source of someone else's happiness when I don't feel any myself? How can you give away what you don't have? How can I love others when I can't love myself?

When feelings are gone, when emotions are dead what is the point in living?

I wish I was one of the lucky ones who only experienced this monster for a few months. But I am not. It appears that I am doomed to live my life out never again feeling any pleasure, or joy, or happiness.

Let me end by throwing out a crazy idea.

Based on the gate control theory of pain which postulates that since pain travels along nerve pathways, it is possible to close the gate, thus stopping the transmission of pain from its source to the brain. If the brain never receives the pain message, no pain is felt.

Could it be possible that emotions also travel along some physical pathway in the body which also takes them to the brain for processing? IF that were to be the case, then the techniques for closing the pain gateway could be used in reverse, opening the emotional pathway for the emotion being sent to make it all the way to the brain, and the feelings then processed would be experienced.

Typically this is achieved through acupuncture.

Has anyone tried acupuncture to alleviate Anhedonia?

I would be delighted to hear from someone who has tried this, that there are acupuncturists who have studied this, attempted it and had success.

I would do anything to open the pathways so the flow of emotions would once again reach my brain for processing and I could FEEL love, joy, passion.

Am I really just grasping at straws here?

Or does someone know whether is crazy idea has been tried, and better yet been met with success?

I would love to hear anyone's stories regarding this idea.

I would also love to hear someone else's ideas regarding the potential for this emotional pathway to exist on a physical level.

Come on! Brainstorm with me!

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I continue to live in a world of nothingness, which IMHO begs the question, "Why continue this existence?" I operate at a robotic level. Existence is not living.

If nothing gives me pleasure, happiness, or joy, how am I supposed to be able to give it to someone else? How can I be the source of someone else's happiness when I don't feel any myself? How can you give away what you don't have? How can I love others when I can't love myself?

When feelings are gone, when emotions are dead what is the point in living?

You stated that so well. Are you able to experience any kind of pleasure like taste?

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Question. Is it possible to have partial anhedonia?

Here's why I ask. I do not have the ability to feel pleasure from any of the activities that used to give me pleasure. Watching a comedy gives no emotional response. Nor does music, sunshine, nature, etc.

However...I can still feel love for my spouse and children. I can still enjoy the taste of a good meal, still can enjoy scents, and still can enjoy sex.

Other than those, the only emotions I feel are pain, anxiety, sadness, the bad ones.

Would this be considered a "partial" anhedonia? Could it be just from the depressive episode I am currently in? Is there more hope for it? It has basically been the same for a few months now and has not gotten worse.

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I certainly have no expertise in this area but it sound like you are experiencing depression, not anhedonia to me. If you are deriving pleasure from several areas in your life it doesn't seem to fit the definition for anhedonian.

I was asked if I enjoy food, the taste of food and the answer is no. But then I have never truly enjoyed eating at any time in my life. I recall watching "The Jetsons" on TV, a futuristic cartoon back in the 1960's. They simply popped a pill for a meal. Even then that made more sense to me than eating, so I am still waiting for the day when the entire messy experience of cooking, baking, preparing food can be done away with and kitchens become a thing of the past. All you need is one or more nutritious pills.

I always figures that NASA, the space programs would be the first to come up with this solution.

But I am still waiting.

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I'm really not sure that qualifies as anhedonia - at least in the psychiatric sense. Anhedonia seems to come along with a general apathy (not directly related to attitude or the environment) and emotional blunting as well as loss of libido/sex drive and anorgasmia in some cases. Anhedonia is not about feeling dissatisfied in the sense that one would feel in day-to-day life. For example, a person may have a pretty good life, get bored and refuse to settle with it. This is not anhedonia, because it is arguably a choice and can easily change with a change in environment or circumstances. Anhedonia is a breakdown of the reward circuits in the brain so that things feel dull and there is a general apathy towards life. Many times, with anhedonia, even drugs of abuse fail to induce euphoria. Irritability or anxiety may persist, but in the absence of a viable outlet for release like cathartic crying, because emotions like sadness are muted.

Anhedonia can exist on a gradient, but I think that there is a sort of "switch" that signals a "release" cascade. For me, at least, I may feel muted for a long while, and that "switch" is triggered, and then all of the sudden everything comes out. These are "windows."

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Thanks for the replies.

I was fearful of anhedonia because I feel "flat" or numb most of the time and not depressed. I feel like almost all of my good pleasure feelings have been blunted and I feel like almost nothing in my life brings me any pleasure or happiness, except the areas I mentioned. It's like the pleasure part of my brain is malfunctioning.

I have had depression before, but never like this. This seemed to happen after I tried some SSRI drugs for a few weeks that only gave me adverse reactions. After that my attention span went to almost zero, I am bored constantly, I get no pleasure from almost any activity except eating, smelling, and sex. I do feel love for my wife and kids still in a caring way.

But, the rest of my pleasure circuit seems to be turned off. I feel I have no meaning in life and am just existing, almost like just as a living organism. I also am confused all the time and cannot work because I can't seem to access my mind's intelligence like I used to.

I feel anxiety and fear, and also sadness too. But, happiness seems to fail me.

That is why I thought I had some form of anhedonia. But, if the requirement for that is complete apathy for life, then I guess maybe I don't have it. I still stress out about finances and other aspects of life, so maybe it is just severe depression for me, as you both are suspecting.

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