Anhedonia.A side effect of COVID?
2020 has been tricky on all of us. We have not been able to do things we enjoyed doing and, were almost forced to find enjoyment in doing things that were usual. This pandemic has caused many to feel like there is no point in trying anything since nothing feels good anymore. This lack of pleasure has a name. It is called ANHEDONIA.
What is going on in your brain when you have anhedonia?
When we look at the brain, some regions interact to form a reward circuit. A rewarding circuit tells you what is rewarding, interesting, or worthy to pursue.Now that we have so many fearful and emotional things going on in the world, the brain is responding more and more to threats and less and less to things that are rewarding, just based on what we are exposed to.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a rise in the rate of people consulting about their lack of the ability to feel pleasure. The reward circuit and threat circuit are constantly running in our brain. When one is used more and takes up more brain energy, the other ends up running less efficiently. That is what has been happening during the covid outbreak. That is why we can say that anhedonia might be a side effect of COVID.
Trying to understand…
Let me see if I can give you a hand in understanding what you might be going through Well, if hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure and gratification, anhedonia is its opposite. The brain’s ability to feel joy, satisfaction, or enjoyment gets put on mute. There is little to no motivation to do the things we love, nothing to look forward to.
Anhedonia is different from apathy. While apathy refers to a lack of motivation or energy, anhedonia is the lack of pleasure. Most of us will, at some point in life, lose interest in things that used to excite us. The underlying reward mechanisms that move us towards something are impaired. This might even involve alterations in levels of interest, motivation, anticipation, expectation, and effort prediction, all of which are complex.
Desire, motivation, and the pleasure we derive from things are fluid. When the world turns upside down this mechanism suffers too. It was difficult to enjoy what we have enjoyed before. In anhedonia, both wanting and liking are mute. You cannot see the reward or pleasure at the end of the road, so why bother going down it in the first place?
So, give yourself a break and understand that under this Covid outbreak it is hard to feel pleseare.It is difficult to keep motivated . We can try to reverse this feeling but in the process of doing so, we must remember tha,t under so much stress, it is ok to not be ok.
Some tips that might help
We call this behavioral activation, and it works because it sets up a positive feedback loop. The brain affects your behavior, but behavior also affects your brain. Here some tips to try
Try these tips
- Reinforce your immune system. First remember that eating consistent healthy meals, sleeping sufficiently, exercising, or moving more, and reducing levels of psychological stress helps a lot in increasing our dopamine and as a result reinforces our immune system
- Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend
- Keep a thought worksheet to investigate negative thinking and try to replace a negative thought with neutral ones
- Keep a record of things you are grateful for
- Do what you like and value, even if you do not feel like it
- Engage in social connections contacting people you feel safe even if you do not feel like socializing
Seek out therapy when you need to.
While the above tips can be beneficial jumping-off points, if the lack of motivation and the lack of pleasure have been present for a long time and started to affect your ability to carry out daily activities, seek out for help. Find a therapist, a psychiatrist someone who might provide professional support and give you some coping strategies
At Estrada Vigil & Medial group we have professionals willing to help you. Do not hesitate and gives us a call. You do not need to go through this on your own!