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Anhedonia Severity Levels

Updated: Jun 13

It’s not your imagination. Your anhedonia really can be different from one day to the next.

(Just in case this is your first blog, anhedonia is a feeling of emotional emptiness most commonly caused by depressive episodes).

It shifts forms in some pretty subtle ways, but if you understand these changes and know what to look for you have a huge advantage in this battle.Anhedonia presents in different formats and with different severity levels.

Here, I'm going to focus on the severity levels. There are two severity sub-types of anhedonia:

Partial Anhedonia:

This can be one of two things. Sometimes our ability to feel isn’t gone completely, it’s just extremely dulled, like our feelings are under partial anesthesia. We can still feel in this state, but the intensity of our emotions are something like 10% - 20% of what they typically would be.

This can also mean we experience no joy from most things in a life, but a few special experiences can still slip through the cracks. Maybe there’s one or two foods that still taste good, one specific person you continue to enjoy spending time with, or one specific hobby that you still enjoy, even though most of it is gone.

Full Anhedonia:

This is when absolutely nothing can get through. It’s a complete numbness of all pleasant emotions. The black hole, the void, the thing that turns you into a walking ghost.

There’s a lot you can do with this information, but I think the most important application is to never assume you’re experiencing full anhedonia without running some tests.

Once you’ve had an experience of full anhedonia, it’s really easy to assume that ALL periods of anhedonia are full anhedonia and to completely give up trying to experience anything positive during an episode. This is often a mistake and leads to artificially increased levels of depression as we end up living below our emotional means.

Sometimes asking a few questions can help you tell the difference.

Questions like:

  • Can I really not feel ANYTHING, or are my feelings just a lot less present than usual?

  • Have I tried everything I really love? Is it possible that some things still work and break through this awfulness?

Next, I’ll teach you about the different sub-categories of anhedonia and how they can impact you.

- Scott 

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