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Pleasure-blind

Question:

It seems like my mind is barred from all happy and pleasurable senses. It’s like being colorblind…I only feel a select few emotions, mostly negative, and have not “had fun” in years. I don’t know what joy is, and nothing seems fun to me…it’s hard even to remember what interested me before. Even food and drink tastes all the same to me. I’ll try to go along with the crowd…I don’t want to be seen as a hermit…but I can’t stand the fact that there’s this emotional block that prevents me from feeling happy or at least entertained. I do everything because I have to, including extra-curricular, and quite frankly I don’t know of anything that’s fun anyway. I am taking some sedatives in addition to anti-depressants so I can understand if I feel lethargic…but right now I feel like a block of stone. Is this another symptom of depression that I’ll have to live with? Do I really have to turn to alcohol or some other chemical to try and feel some kind of joy? Apparently my therapist isn’t too concerned with this problem as long as I’m alive.

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Answer:

The loss of pleasure in formerly pleasurable events is a core symptom of depression. In medical tech-speak it is known as ‘anhedonia’, which I believe is Latin for “lack of pleasure-feeling”. Anti-depressant medications are often helpful in relieving (at least somewhat) this painful symptom, but only when they are properly dosed and functioning. You may want to talk with your psychiatrist or medicating physician (who really ought to be a psychiatrist as they are the type of doctor who are most knowledgeable with the range of medicines available for treating depression) about a medication adjustment (either in dosage, or in type of medication). You may also wish to explore alternative therapies for depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for depression is a form of psychotherapy that is known to work well for depression – showing results that are equal to that of anti-depressant medication, and lasting longer than the medicine does. You must ask for this type of therapy by name – not every therapist knows how to provide it. A good therapist to provide CBT should have formal training in it’s use, and should be providing you with homework assignments each time you meet. There are sometimes other methods that are useful for treating chronic depressions that will not respond to other methods (e.g., electro-convulsive shock therapy or ECT). ECT must be administered by a psychiatrist and is not something to be used lightly, but – it is a pretty safe therapy that can be remarkably helpful when all other options have failed.

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p> You should avoid using alcohol and all other ‘recreational’ drugs! It is scientifically proven that the use of alcohol and other drugs can cause depression in the first place, and keep depression going for longer than it would otherwise last in the second place.

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