Suffering is not a personal choice, no one chooses pain or emotional isolation of his own will. There is no anesthesia for not suffering, the dark periods must be faced with integrity, courage and enthusiasm.
Life is not always easy. We say this very often, and only those who have been lucky enough not to be “hit” by adversity are unable to understand the veracity of these words.
To live is to face challenges, to realize one, two, six or more projects, to allow happiness to embrace our lives and to accept that, from time to time, suffering will call on our door to test us.
Not all of us take on these life-affecting blows. There are those who face disappointment better and those who internalize it, allowing them to undermine their self-esteem.
No sadness is experienced in the same way, just as no depression has the same origin, nor is it treated in the same way by different people.
However, there is a very common symptom that, somehow, we have all tried a few times: anedonia.
It is the inability to feel pleasure and enjoy things. Our brain, to put it this way, “decides to disconnect”. Don’t feel so as not to suffer; isolate, anesthetize.
Perhaps you have felt it when for a few days you are seized by apathy and discouragement. What happens when this condition becomes chronic? What happens when we stop “feeling life” chronically?
Today we want to deal with this topic to offer you strategies and help you investigate this important aspect.
Anedonia: when we lose the pleasure of living
As we said at the beginning, there is no anesthesia for the pain of living. When anhedonia occurs in our brain as a defense mechanism, it does not give us any help. Quite the contrary.
Let’s start by clarifying some aspects:
- Anhedonia is not a disease, nor a disorder: it is a symptom of some emotional process or some disease.
- Although in most cases it is intimately linked to depression, it can also occur in cases of schizophrenia or dementia such as Alzheimer’s.
- Everyone, some more than others, has tried anhedonia a few times: lack of interest in social relations, food, and communication.
- The real problem is when anhedonia raises a wall around us and takes away any glimmer of humanity: we feel nothing in front of manifestations of affection, we don’t need anyone next to us and no stimulus produces pleasure for us, neither food nor music … nothing.
If we choose to stop feeling so as not to suffer, we will not protect ourselves from anything. We will only be closing our doors to life, we will be souls that are fraying little by little …
Anhedonia in the brain
This low receptivity to external stimuli is reflected in a depressed brain.
It is important to have in mind what processes are unleashed within us when we try anhedonia:
- When this state becomes chronic and depressive processes last over time, our brain structures suffer changes, which affect our judgments, our thoughts, and our emotions.
- The frontal lobe, connected to decision making, is reduced.
- The basal ganglia, involved in the movement, are damaged to the point that even getting out of bed is a great effort.
- The hippocampus, related to emotions and memory, loses volume. It is usual to have memory problems, to suffer from impotence, to become obsessed with negative thoughts.
Often depression is known as the disease of sadness. However, in reality, it goes further, it is the prison of an emotional brain that does not find answers to the voids of life, to disappointment, to the loss of enthusiasm.
Strategies to deal with anhedonia and depression
Depression does not “cure”, it is faced day after day. It requires multiple approaches, based on the reality of each individual.
Medicines, therapies, family support and, first of all, personal resources are key elements.
For our part, we invite you to reflect on the following aspects:
Not feeling to not suffer is not an adequate mechanism to live with. It will allow you to “survive”, but remaining empty inside. Do not become eternal prisoners of suffering.
If there is something positive to be learned from anhedonia, it is that it has put aside the ability to feel. Now that you are “anesthetized” to pain, it’s time to ask yourself what you need.
- Do you need peace and happiness back in your life? Start getting excited again.
- Do you need to stop being prisoners of the past? Change forward.
- Do you need to stop suffering? Have the courage to live again, open the doors of your heart, allow yourself to be happy another time.
Think of all these aspects for a few minutes and always remember that living is HEAR in all its intensity, for better or for worse.