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Conceptualizing anhedonias and implications for depression treatments

Authors Winer ES, Jordan DG, Collins AC

Received 31 July 2018

Accepted for publication 25 January 2019

Published 13 May 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 325—335

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S159260

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Ms Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


E Samuel Winer, D Gage Jordan, Amanda C Collins

Department of Psychology, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS 39762, USA

Abstract: Anhedonia has been implicated as a core symptom of depression and schizophrenia, and studying anhedonia has yielded a wide array of important findings aiding the understanding and identification of psychological disorders. However, anhedonia is a complex and multifaceted construct; indeed, the term anhedonia has been defined in psychological and psychiatric research as many different concepts, a number of which are theoretically and methodologically independent of one another. In this review alone, we discuss research that separates social aspects of anhedonia from the physical contexts of anhedonia, with the former emphasizing interpersonal relationships as important to anhedonic symptoms, and the latter emphasizing biological and brain-related impairment as potential causes of chronic anhedonia states. We highlight research that distinguishes between interest in (wanting) or experience of (liking) potential pleasure as definitions of anhedonia and also disambiguate methodologically and theoretically distinct ways of assessing 1) trait-level dispositional tendencies, 2) state-level cross-sectional assessments, and 3) symptom-based recent changes from baseline, all of which have been used to indicate anhedonia. Lastly, we describe cutting-edge translations of basic anhedonia research into treatment and discuss how different conceptualizations of anhedonia, guided by recent theoretical and methodological advances, have begun to usher in a science of anhedonia that is consistent with increasingly personalized assessment and treatment. We conclude with a note for future research, emphasizing that continued application of theoretically based operationalizations of anhedonia and sound design are paramount to continue the recent progress toward meaningful and specific use of the anhedonia construct in clinical research.

Keywords: wanting, liking, recent changes, state, trait, interest, pleasure, reward


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