Depression: Depression & Related Conditions

Ask Dr. Schwartz
Ask Dr. Schwartz
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

Anhedonia

I am experiencing difficulty experiencing pleasure. Little things that I used to like, such as, taking walks in the evening, looking at a nice view, eating dessert, are just much less intense. My sex drive is also greatly reduced. I want to know what to do about this.

My history: I was depressed for several years after my mother died, but seemed to make a full recovery. A few years later, though, when I entered graduate school, I felt myself becoming somewhat depressed again. I had several severe episodes of anxiety in which I became very worried that I had various rare and deadly medical conditions. I have always been a hypochondriac in this way. I started waking up early in the morning. Eventually, one of these anxiety episodes was so severe that I had to take a semester off of school. During this time I was diagnosed with OCD and generalized anxiety disorder, and used Lexapro for seven months.

Lexapro reduced my anxiety but was emotionally numbing, so I stopped it. Since then, I have felt a lot less anxiety but I do feel emotionally numb in a way I never felt before. I also have occasional dizziness and early waking. In addition, I feel that I became addicted to both masturbation and caffeine. I have stopped masturbating, but am still addicted to caffeine. What chance is there that I have permanently burned out my reward-pleasure pathways? And if the damage is temporary, how can I make the most speedy recovery possible? Thanks!

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