Depression: “no feelings of love?” ( ways to overcome anhedonia)

From the following article you will get an idea about what to do if you experience “no feelings of love” because of your depression. 

No feelings of love? 

Depression often known as major depressive disorder is a pathological mental condition which encompasses different symptoms ranging from helplessness, worthlessness, low mood, concentration issues, anhedonia to sleep and eating problems. For a person suffering from depression, the world becomes a different place than before. It is no more a happy place to thrive in. The person no more feels any experience of pleasure or satisfaction. He or she is not motivated to work and carry forward with life. Along with this you may also experience the lack of feelings of love.  The depressed person may believe loved ones, even their own children, are better off without them. Nothing seems comforting, pleasurable, or worth living for. 

Living with depression can make a person hamper relationships and experience extreme pain and emotional turmoil. At times they do not feel love anymore claiming that they no longer love their partner. After years of intimacy and trust, depression can make you feel you are no more in love. At that point you may want to break up with your partner or blame him or her for all the pain you are experiencing. 

Why depression causes no feelings of love

Depression may play games with your emotions. You may either be filled with extreme negative and painful emotions or nothing at all. 

There can be episodes where you will feel extreme negativity and pain. You may not feel any attachment towards your loved ones be it your family or partner. You would want to blame them for your misery. One may experience unexplained anger outbursts even with their close ones leading to degradation of relationships.

There can be episodes of extreme numbness where you feel no attachment, no love and literally no emotion. There is nothing that gives you pleasure, that is when you don’t feel any love for anyone. This is a condition known as anhedonia. 

It is believed anhedonia is a major symptom of depression which makes you feel nothing, not even “love”. 

Anhedonia

“For the past 7 years, I have had the smallest flickering of emotions, what I feel on a daily basis is practically nil. I have no desires to truly speak of, as nothing I do is rewarding or satisfying.I do not feel any attachment or love for anyone around me.” This is exactly how anhedonia feels. 

In Greek, anhedonia directly translates to “without pleasure.” It is a condition where one does not find anything interesting. They have a lack of motivation, satisfaction and interest in anything.

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Understanding anhedonia

The two main types of anhedonia are social and physical anhedonia.

Social anhedonia is a disinterest towards social contact and a lack of motivation in being a part of social situations. 

Physical anhedonia is an inability to feel tactile pleasures such as eating, touching, or sex.

The symptoms of anhedonia include:

  • social withdrawal
  • a lack of relationships or withdrawal from previous relationships
  • negative feelings toward yourself and others
  • reduced emotional abilities, including having less verbal or nonverbal expressions
  • difficulty adjusting to social situations
  • a tendency toward showing fake emotions, such as pretending you’re happy at a wedding
  • a loss of libido or a lack of interest in physical intimacy
  • persistent physical problems, such as being sick often

This is how anhedonia can make us experience a lack of feeling of love. To be able to get over this, you have to start treating the root of your problem, i.e. depression. I would suggest professional services in the form of counselling or therapy if your conditions are severe. But if you think, you can control them, here are some self-help coping techniques. 

Breathing exercises 

According to a recent study published by the APA, it has been found that anhedonia is a psychic defense we use to fight off a stressful situation. It sends our body and mind to the survival mode and makes us hold our breath and panic.

Simple breathing exercises can help us practise concentration and generate a control on our breath. This will help us nurture mindfulness thus gaining mental clarity. With mental clarity we can get over our state of dissociation. 

Physical activity

There is an extensive body of literature documenting an inverse association between level of depressive symptoms and physical activity (PA).

According to the article “Relations Between Anhedonia and Physical Activity” by

Adam M. Leventhal, anhedonia may be inversely associated with physical activity for several reasons and “deficient pleasure may be an important affective mechanism underlying physical behavior”.

Even if you may not find exercise pleasurable, it will help you stay fit and healthy. Your lack of motivation can be ruled out with physical activities which will keep you fit and motivated too. 

Set goals either in the morning or the evening to get yourself engaged in any sort of physical activity, be it yoga, cardio, walk, skipping or any other form of physical activity. 

It is very important to commit to yourself and carry on with your physical activity on a daily basis. Discipline will keep you hopeful and determined. 

Healthy sleep habits

Sleep is an integral part of a person’s physical as well as mental health.  Reducing exposure to screen, atleast one hour before sleep, will help you gain a peaceful one.  Try to replace screen time with over-phone calls,  reading or talking to family members.

 Healthy sleep habits include maintaining a specific time of going to bed and waking up. This will help you overcome the damaging effects of anhedonia and help boost energy levels.

 Socialize

Socializing helps you connect with people and  get over loneliness and triggering negative thoughts. 

If socializing in person does not help you, try out social media. You can talk to strangers who are suffering from the same thing as you over chatrooms and forums.

Therapy or counseling

Anhedonia can affect your daily life and make you trapped in a vicious circle of worthlessness and misery. 

If you think self help can no longer help your condition, please do consider therapy or counseling. They will help you out with either medication or talk therapy or a combination of both based on the severity of your condition.

Practise self-love

The purest form of love is experienced in your own self. If you are not able to feel any emotion, you should start loving your own self. Don’t worry, it is not very difficult. Self-love can be practised in any way among all these listed below:

  • Follow a skin care routine : you can frame your routine with simple things like applying moisturizer on a daily basis after washing your face in the morning. Scrubbing your body once a week. Going to the salon for a clean-up, manicure, pedicure or haircut. Take care of your nails. You will get a glowing skin after a week, I assure. 
  • Have healthy food: To make yourself healthy and glowing, you should check upon your eating habits too. Control sugar intake, junk and oil, hog upon fruits, veggies and set a cheat day once a week. A proper well thought diet plan will help you feel healthy, energetic and fall in love with your skin.
  • Remind yourself how good you are: take out some time everyday to list those things you love about yourself. For example, “I like the way I talk to people, I am a good listener, I have good communication skills, I am beautiful no matter whatever the world thinks.”- I am sure you will love this session.  
  • Go for a movie: keep the weekends solely for yourself. Dress up good, book a ticket and go out for a movie date with yourself. You can also take yourself out for dinner dates, coffee dates, stationary shopping or a short trip away from your locality.

Self-love is an intrinsically motivated emotion. If depression is making you experience no feelings of love towards anyone, try out anything that you like doing the most all by yourself. The above self-love activities I prefer the most. You can try out anything that is closer to your heart. If playing games or painting trees makes you happy do that, or you can even try out finding interest in new activities. For example, I discovered I am really good at doodling in the recent past when I was bored in the midst of the epidemic. Likewise you should cultivate love in yourself through activities and habits (new or already existing) if you think you don’t feel “love” for anyone.

Conclusion:

From the following article you will get an idea about what to do if you experience “no feelings of love” because of your depression.

Is anhedonia a mental illness?

No it is not an illness but it is one of the symptoms of depression.

Does exercise help anhedonia?

There is an extensive body of literature documenting an inverse association between level of depressive symptoms and physical activity (PA).

According to the article “Relations Between Anhedonia and Physical Activity” by

Adam M. Leventhal, anhedonia may be inversely associated with physical activity for several reasons and “deficient pleasure may be an important affective mechanism underlying physical behavior”.

Even if you may not find exercise pleasurable, it will help you stay fit and healthy. Your lack of motivation can be ruled out with physical activities which will keep you fit and motivated too. 

Set goals either in the morning or the evening to get yourself engaged in any sort of physical activity, be it yoga, cardio, walk, skipping or any other form of physical activity. 

What does it mean to feel emotionless?

Schizoid personality disorder is one of many personality disorders which make you feel emotionless and distant. 

Symptoms :

If you have schizoid personality disorder, it’s likely that you:

  • Prefer being alone and choose to do activities alone
  • Don’t want or enjoy close relationships
  • Feel little if any desire for sexual relationships
  • Feel like you can’t experience pleasure
  • Have difficulty expressing emotions and reacting appropriately to situations
  • May seem humorless, indifferent or emotionally cold to others
  • May appear to lack motivation and goals
  • Don’t react to praise or critical remarks from others

Does anhedonia ever go away? 

Anhedonia can affect your daily life and make you trapped in a vicious circle of worthlessness and misery. 

If you think self help can no longer help your condition, please do consider therapy or counseling. They will help you out with either medication or talk therapy or a combination of both based on the severity of your condition. With therapy anhedonia goes away.

What is an example of anhedonia?

An anhedonic mother finds no joy from playing with her baby or , might suddenly find they get no enjoyment from reading. 

What is alexithymia?

Alexithymia is a broad term to describe problems with feeling emotions. In fact, this Greek term used in Freudian psychodynamic theories loosely translates to “no words for emotion.” While the condition is not well-known.

What is the flattened affect?

A flat affect can be a negative symptom of schizophrenia, meaning that your emotional expressions don’t show. 

An interesting cause of anhedonia?

Anhedonia characterizes defects in the reward system of our brain. It is not simply a reduced ability to find enjoyment in your interests. 

People with anhedonia experience pleasure the same way as the rest of the population, but the areas of motivation, risk taking, decision making and the computations regarding either getting or rejecting a reward are defective.

The Medical News Today provides a vivid example in this context of interplay between different aspects of pleasure: ” If we experience something and enjoy it — eating a new type of candy, for instance — we might want to do it again. However, if the candy costs $1,000 per piece, we might not bother. Or, similarly, if it is known to cause cancer, we will probably give it a miss. If the candy is free and safe, however, we will tuck in. If we are required to walk to the next room to get a piece, we will probably make the effort. But, if it is stationed half a mile away, we might pause for thought. And, if it’s in the next town, we will forgo the pleasure. But even if the candy is healthful, placed on the table next to us, and free of charge, we might take a piece even if we have just eaten a three-course meal.”

The different aspects of pleasure are ingrained in our mental reward system whose dysfunction is considered responsible behind anhedonia.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://www.webmd.com/depression/what-is-anhedonia

lose.https://motivationgrid.com/5-reasons-why-nothing-seems-to-make-you-happy-anymore/

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-help-someone-with-depression-1065117

https://www.quora.com/Do-you-lose-the-feeling-of-love-when-you-are-suffering-from-depression

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