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Anhedonia is one of the worst tortures known to man. Originating from the Greek ἀv- an-, “without” and hēdonē, “pleasure”, anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, the inability feel anything good. Sufferers who don’t know the word will usually describe it as a zombie-like state, feeling like a robot, feeling numb, feeling disconnected, or what-have-you.

Anhedonia is a symptom of pretty much any mood or personality disorder you can think of and some neurological diseases. The treatment options are pretty sad, and SSRIs are obviously the drug of choice. While some people have luck with SSRIs, they very frequently cause anhedonia, and sexual anhedonia, sexual dysfunction, and fatigue, and suicidal tendencies, and the list goes on. Many times, the patient’s depression is cured but only because they lose the ability to feel or care at all (apathy), so the anhedonia just doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Less of the time, people become anhedonic after discontinuing SSRIs or other pharma drugs and no solution is offered to them by anyone. So I think the medical community has, despite their “marvelous” advancements, failed to address such a hellish problem. Thousands of neglected sufferers take to the internet for help with anhedonia, but there is still a surprising lack of practical methods for treating it; or non-surprising, depending on how bad and how long you’ve been burned.

Neurobiologists think anhedonia may be linked to a dysfunctional brain reward system, also called the striatum. fMRI scans of schizophrenic-spectrum patients showed decreased brain activation in response to positive stimuli. So, what is to be done about this? You can wait a few decades and hope some better drug or treatment comes around, or you can keep looking yourself, take charge, and maybe find an answer, some light. Additionally, I wrote an article on how to grow and protect the dopaminergic system.

Augustus Hill, a character on HBO’s “Oz”, said “You can take a lot of things away from a man. Cigarettes, the gym. You can take his freedom, his legs, but not his feelings. Not his feelings.” Even though this sounds inspiring, it is wrong. You can take his feelings away and the experience is like no other. Unfortunately, it’s not a Hollywood story; it’s much more awful. Truth is scarier than fiction. If anyone cannot understand why someone would commit suicide, hopefully a description of anhedonia will be sufficient.

Area-1255, an “underground” blog, has a nice guide for treating anhedonia. The author suggests protein, dopamine precursors, B vitamins, zinc, and vitamin D. These are absolutely necessary for brain function, but I had no luck with the precursor L-DOPA, and it can actually cause psychosis. B12 was the first substance to relieve some anhedonic symptoms, but it became detrimental and I realize that holism is needed to heal yourself.

Zinc is needed for proper hedonic tone, which is the general level of happiness/pleasure. Zinc deficiency causes behavioral abnormalities like anhedonic depression, lethargy, and irritability. If you’re zinc deficient, “supplementation produces a rapid and dramatic improvement in hedonic tone.” Zinc costs $7-$20, Nature Made Zinc is $6.50, and zinc is high in shellfish, cheese, beef, milk, yogurt, and cacoa/cacao.

Area-1255 doesn’t stress the high amount of protein needed, which is to say, you need a lot! 80 grams a day as a non-preferred minimum, or if you’re hypothyroid, and 100 grams a day for anyone else, minimum. If you are exercising heavily, a gram per pound of body weight is essential! Listening to your body, if that isn’t enough, you should listen and increase it. Since neurotransmitters are made of amino acids which are made of protein, it only follows that protein deficiency will cause brain malfunctions like anhedonia, and since the nutritional community is so backwards, protein deficiency is common. However, I think it is important to consume adequate carbohydrates, at an amount double or more to that of protein, since low-carb and ketosis spike cortisol, which promotes brain cell death by excitotoxicity.

Endurance exercise increases dopamine receptors in the reward system. Anhedonia shares an inverse relationship with exercise frequency, even with walking. Swimming exercises in rats increased their testosterone and protected depressive rats from anhedonia, even anhedonia induced by drugs. If nothing else, I think just walking a lot every day can do nothing but good for your brain, as Søren Kierkegaard said, “whatever you do, never lose your fondness of walking. I walk myself into my daily well-being, and I walk out of all illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so heavy that one cannot outwalk it.”

Meditation reduces anhedonia by increasing dopamine receptors. In schizophrenics with anhedonia, loving-kindness meditation largely increased the frequency and intensity of positive emotions while reducing negative ones like anhedonia.

Pregnenolone, the “mother of all hormones”, which converts into vital neurosteroids, also reduces anhedonia and promotes brain healing. Pregnenolone significantly reduced the symptoms of blunted affect (lack of facial expression), avolition (lack of motivation), and anhedonia in schizophrenics. MRM Pregnenolone costs $7.

Progesterone, a downstream hormone of pregnenolone, can induce euphoria and thus pleasure. Ray Peat, PhD explains “some mention euphoria as a “side-effect” of progesterone usage, but euphoria is simply an indication of good physiological state. To avoid unexpected anesthesia, the correct dose should be determined by taking about 10 mg (3-4 drops) at a time, allowing it to spread into the membranes of the mouth, and repeating the dose after 10 minutes until the symptoms are controlled”. Emerita Pro-gest Cream costs $30, but males should be cautious, as progesterone can oppose testosterone and shrink the penis.

Vitamin D is another neurosteroid and deficiency in it is famously associated with depression, and thus anhedonia. Patients with vitamin D deficiency scored higher on an anhedonia symptom scale than those with enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency depletes dopamine, leads to the death of dopaminergic neurons, and eventually Parkinson’s Disease. Now Foods Vitamin D3 costs $11.

Hypothyroidism and thyroid tumors can cause major depression and anhedonia, so I think hormone support is very important in ameliorating this. The active thyroid hormone, T3, induces euphoria just like progesterone. Good sources for natural thyroid without a prescription, for research purposes, are PimpomProducts and Thyroid-Shop.

NSI-189 is an experimental antidepressant that should be on the market within the next decade. It appears to activate neurogenesis, the growth of neurons, and enlarge the hippocampus. It successfully treats major depressive disorder which is characterized heavily by anhedonia, and many anecdotal reports exist online specifically attributing NSI-189 as curing anhedonia and restoring positive emotions. It can be bought right now, for “research purposes”, through users on Longecity and sometimes on sites like Ebay, but there is no quality assurance.

If you have anhedonia, it can be tempting to exit this world and give up, but just staying around and continuing your search, there is always a chance you can heal. Our bodies are not concrete buildings. They are living, breathing, moving, always building up and breaking down at every second. The choice is yours. I think real change is possible and it’s only a matter of finding a series of interventions that work for you.

 

Works Cited

“Pretty Much Sorted My Anhedonia.” The Depression Forums – A Depression & Mental Health Social Community Support Group. 22 Oct. 2016. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

Bertone-Johnson, Elizabeth R. “Vitamin D and the Occurrence of Depression: Causal Association or Circumstantial Evidence?” Nutrition Reviews 67.8 (2009): 481-92. Print.

Capetillo-Ventura, Nelly, and Inmaculada Baeza. “Psychiatric Symptoms Due to Thyroid Disease in a Female Adolescent.” Case Reports in Endocrinology 2014 (2014): 1-4. Print.

Contis, George, and Thomas P. Foley. “Depression, Suicide Ideation, and Thyroid Tumors Among Ukrainian Adolescents Exposed as Children to Chernobyl Radiation.” Journal of Clinical Medicine Research 7.5 (2015): 332-38. Print.

Cui, X., M. Pelekanos, P.-Y. Liu, T.h.j. Burne, J.j. Mcgrath, and D.w. Eyles. “The Vitamin D Receptor in Dopamine Neurons; Its Presence in Human Substantia Nigra and Its Ontogenesis in Rat Midbrain.” Neuroscience 236 (2013): 77-87. Print.

De’Russo, JayZin. “How to Cure Anhedonia (Easy 5 Step Program/Supplement Routine) (Natural and Pharma Methods Included).” How to Cure Anhedonia (Easy 5 Step Program/Supplement Routine) (Natural and Pharma Methods Included). 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

Groves, Natalie J., John J. Mcgrath, and Thomas H.j. Burne. “Vitamin D as a Neurosteroid Affecting the Developing and Adult Brain.” Annual Review of Nutrition 34.1 (2014): 117-41. Print.

Johnson, David P., David L. Penn, Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ann M. Kring, Piper S. Meyer, Lahnna I. Catalino, and Mary Brantley. “A Pilot Study of Loving-kindness Meditation for the Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia Research 129.2-3 (2011): 137-40. Print.

Johnson, David P., David L. Penn, Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ann M. Kring, Piper S. Meyer, Lahnna I. Catalino, and Mary Brantley. “A Pilot Study of Loving-kindness Meditation for the Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia Research 129.2-3 (2011): 137-40. Print.

Känel, Roland Von, Nasser Fardad, Nadine Steurer, Nicole Horak, Esther Hindermann, Franz Fischer, and Katharina Gessler. “Vitamin D Deficiency and Depressive Symptomatology in Psychiatric Patients Hospitalized with a Current Depressive Episode: A Factor Analytic Study.” Plos One 10.9 (2015). Print.

Leventhal, Adam M. “Relations Between Anhedonia and Physical Activity.” American Journal of Health Behavior 36.6 (2012): 860-72. Print.

Macrae, P.g., W.w. Spirduso, T.j. Walters, R.p. Farrar, and R.e. Wilcox. “Endurance Training Effects on Striatal D2 Dopamine Receptor Binding and Striatal Dopamine Metabolites in Presenescent Older Rats.” Psychopharmacology 92.2 (1987). Print.

“Multiple Sclerosis, Protein, Fats, and Progesterone.” Multiple Sclerosis, Protein, Fats, and Progesterone. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

“NSI-189 for Treatment of “robot-brain” • /r/Nootropics.” Reddit. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

“NSI-189 to Restore Emotions (and Possibly Anhedonia) Caused by Concurrent Use of SSRIs or Other Anti-depressants • /r/Nootropics.” Reddit. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

“A Phase 1B, Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Multiple-dose Escalation Study of NSI-189 Phosphate, a Neurogenic Compound, in Depressed Patients.” Molecular Psychiatry. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

“Progesterone Summaries – Progesterone Deceptions – Progesterone Supplementation – Dosage of Progesterone.” Progesterone Summaries – Progesterone Deceptions – Progesterone Supplementation – Dosage of Progesterone. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.

Ritsner, Michael S., Hisham Bawakny, and Anatoly Kreinin. “Pregnenolone Treatment Reduces Severity of Negative Symptoms in Recent-onset Schizophrenia: An 8-week, Double-blind, Randomized Add-on Two-center Trial.” Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 68.6 (2014): 432-40. Print.

Sigwalt, A.r., H. Budde, I. Helmich, V. Glaser, K. Ghisoni, S. Lanza, E.l. Cadore, F.l.r. Lhullier, A.f. De Bem, A. Hohl, F.j. De Matos, P.a. De Oliveira, R.d. Prediger, L.g.a. Guglielmo, and A. Latini. “Molecular Aspects Involved in Swimming Exercise Training Reducing Anhedonia in a Rat Model of Depression.” Neuroscience 192 (2011): 661-74. Print.

“Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition.” (1956). Print.

6 thoughts on “Niche Anhedonia Treatments

  1. My original diagnosis is social anxiety but I got this shit called anhedonia (along with other depression symptoms) immediately after discontinuing SSRIs. I’m back on ssris as I couldn’t function at all off drugs. Now, I’m severely anhedonic, disconnected, numb, have zero libido, etc. I don’t know what to do anymore. I got a blood check and it shows I’m deficient in vit D and iron. I’m hoping by supplements, this hell of a curse just disappear.

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    1. Make sure you take sufficient minerals with the vitamin D like magnesium (600-800mg+), potassium, salt, and a bit of calcium. D depletes magnesium and can worsen things if you don’t take Mg.

      I suggest you join the “Andy Cutler Chelation Think Tank” group on Facebook and tell them your situation. Mercury may be the root cause of anhedonia and adverse drug reactions, so please keep this in mind. That group has great people who can really set you on the right path.

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      1. Thank you, Joe. Just curious have you experienced anhedonia and all the nightmare yourself? Usually, normal people do not understand the suffering. Based on your profile saying you’re a writer and interested in things, I guess you don’t suffer from it or maybe you got treated. Again, I appreciate your suggestions. Best wishes.

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        1. Hana, forgive me for not replying sooner. Yes, I have personal experience with anhedonia; that is the main reason this website exists. I’m familiar with unaffected people not understanding how brutal anhedonia can be, or dismissing it, or just not caring. The periods in which I wrote and posted articles were periods of relief, thanks to Adderall, which loses its euphoric effect eventually. I spent some time on the MAOI Parnate (tranylcypromine), which helped the anhedonia and anxiety, but it didn’t motivate me. It made me more social, confident, and able to laugh and smile again. I’ve been off it, but I’m planning to reinstate it soon as nothing else seems to work or be safe for me. I have an article detailing how it helped which I hope to post after I edit and refine it.

          I believe I was also damaged by SSRIs as a teenager; probably the cause of my anhedonia and amotivation. You might want to read on Psychotropical.com, Dr. Ken Gillman’s blog. He’s a fantastic pharmacologist and psychiatrist who is very critical of SSRIs and praises the safety and efficacy of MAOIs. He answers emails too and has been very helpful to me.

          How is your progress?

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  2. you say take zinc. well, zinc caused my anhedonia. took 15 miligrams of zinc on empty stomach. after 6 months started getting panic attacks for the first time in my life. for 7 years now i feel nothing from sex, alcohol and dont get the runners high from jogging that i used to

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    1. That is because zinc pulls out copper, and that is giving you the attacks. Copper is a nightmare, going through chelation with zinc myself now.

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