Faculty: Dr. Julie Walsh-Messinger (Psychology)



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Anhedonia is the lack of experiencing pleasure from pleasurable experiences (D'haenen, 1996) and is associated with the reward pathway in the brain (Langvik et al., 2016). Anhedonia can be further broken down into physical or social (Martino et al., 2018).

  • Physical anhedonia is the absence of pleasure from eating, drinking, or physical touch.
  • Social anhedonia is a lack of pleasure derived from social experiences.

Previous research has looked at gender differences in anhedonia with conflicting results.

  • One measure of anhedonic subtype of depression found a relation with positive affect and gender differences more than other measures of anhedonia (Langvik et al., 2016).
  • One study found no gender differences in anhedonia (Langvik et al., 2016).

The associations between menstrual cycle and anhedonia have not been fully investigated yet.

Anxiety and depression have a high comorbidity rate, and anhedonia is may differentiate anxiety and depression symptoms (Langvik, Hjemdal, & Nordahl, 2016).

Anhedonia may be present in those with depression as well as nonclinical groups (Langvik et al., 2016). Healthy individuals can still experience varying levels of anhedonia.

The higher prevalence of depression in women (Langvik et al., 2016) suggests that women will experience more anhedonia as well (Srisurapanont et al., 2017), but today there is no strong body of research to support this hypothesis.

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work | Sociology

Gender Differences in Rates of Anhedonia and the Effect of Menstrual Cycles in University Students