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What Is Anhedonia In Mental Health?

by Harley Miller

In late December 2019, an outbreak of a new viral disease belonging to the coronavirus family was reported in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China.

In December 2021, due to the rapid spread of the virus and the increase in infections, followed by alarming death tolls from the disease, it was declared an epidemic by the World Health Organization. In order to understand anhedonia, we must first travel back in time to discuss the events that led up to today. Everyone in the world directly or indirectly felt the consequences of COVID-19.


Due to severe isolation and cessation of some social affairs, this disease caused problems such as social anxiety, panic, and an economic recession, which can be linked to severe psychological stress. Social media platforms today have helped a great deal in shedding light on families who are still struggling with the COVID-19 aftermath. This includes inflation and, more recently, the extinction of the dollar store.


With many people struggling to afford food, the one place they could count on for a meal and necessities was the dollar store. But now, according to Fox 59, “The recent price limit increase comes not long after Dollar Tree, Inc., who also owns Family Dollar, announced the closure of more than 1,000 Family Dollar stores nationwide. Dollar Tree, Inc., announced it’ll be adding hundreds of new items to its store shelves—but at a higher cost. The new maximum price of items sold at Dollar Trees will be $7.”


With inflation steadily rising due to supply chain disruption, many companies are passing the cost down to their consumers. Restaurants now charge a fee for using your debit or credit card when making a payment, a service fee they claim is to pay their staff adequate wages, and in some places, a health fee, which is used to provide their staff with medical insurance. But why is the consumer responsible for any of this? While these changes may seem small, they do appear to be having a long-term effect on civilians.


Additionally, the implementation of congestion pricing in NYC, which is the nation's first policy of its kind, may be replicated by other American cities like Seattle, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Congestion pricing requires that passenger cars be charged $15 a day to enter Manhattan’s so-called “central business district”, with very few exceptions.


All of Manhattan south of 60th Street will essentially become a toll road, except for perimeter streets like the FDR Drive and West Side Highway, which up until recently, were to remain free. The other day, my mother and I went to a jazz show downtown. On the way home on the FDR Drive, there were tolls. Although they did not appear to be activated at the time, they were there, and if my guess is correct, tolls will be coming soon.


What does all of this mean for the American people? Well, when the things we used to enjoy become taxing on our wallet, the solution becomes simple: stay home. Third places are most commonly known as libraries, parks, coffee shops, and museums. But one user shared that her local coffee shop is now making it almost impossible for their customers to sit and enjoy the space, with the WiFi password being “DIDYOUORDERYET” and the outlet sockets covered, meaning the time they can spend is the duration in which their laptop manages to not go dead.


Adam Neumann, the former CEO of WeWork, told Fortune Magazine, “Howard Shultz was a great entrepreneur and also a company that I really admire, came up with the concept of the third place. He would say the first place was the home, the second place was the office, and the third place was Starbucks where you could get a cup of coffee, meet someone, and be surrounded by other people. The new solution for the future of living needs to be more like one place.”


YouTuber James Li explains, “This new concept cannot be about community; it's control or the ability to concentrate power and influence into the hands of those who design, operate, and own the land. Neumann is in the process of building a mysterious real estate company, Flow. Where if you reside at one of his properties, he will know everything about you.”


Residents will have what is known as the Flow app, which will help residents connect with other residents based on profession and needs. In other words, if you’re a trainer looking for clients, the app will direct you to other residents who are in need of a trainer, and vice versa. All in all, it’s a one place that eliminates the need to be anywhere outside of your home.


This leads us to what many are experiencing today: anhedonia. Anhedonia in mental health is the inability to feel pleasure. It’s a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders. Most people expect certain things in life to make them happy—maybe bike riding, visiting a library, going for a drive—the things that once made life enjoyable are no longer fun. This could correlate to:

  • High Cost of Living: Things we used to enjoy required no payment at all, just some effort on our part to get ourselves ready for the day and head out. Now, if you want to drive, there is the cost of congestion tax, inner-city toll, and gas. Plus, there may be an entry fee into an event that is higher than normal. The food at events becoming astronomically high, and even the idea of taking public transportation seems scary with so many accidents and deaths taking place, especially in NYC.

  • Lack of Motivation/Purpose: What am I doing this for? Why am I going to work? Why do I have to save money? Nothing we do seems to have a purpose anymore. It seems that traveling is expensive, owning a home or an average vehicle is too high, and the cost of rent is absurd, which leaves us feeling hopeless.


There are two types of anhedonia—social and physical.

  • Social Anhedonia is when you don’t want to spend time with other people.

  • Physical Anhedonia is where you don’t enjoy physical sensations. A hug leaves you feeling empty, rather than nurtured. Even sex can lose its appeal.


Anhedonia is linked to depression, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, a global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25% according to the WHO, with both the younger generations and women more severely impacted. Not to mention dating and how stressful that’s become…it’s no wonder many people simply are not interested in anything. Where’s the joy and what’s the point? Well, there is help available if you need it. 988 is your connection to free, confidential crisis counseling, mental health, and substance use support, information, and referrals. Just know that you’re not crazy and more importantly, you’re not alone.

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