Anhedonia is generally defined as the inability to feel pleasure in response to experiences that are usually enjoyable. Anhedonia is one of the two core symptoms of depression and is a major public health concern. Anhedonia has proven particularly difficult to counteract and predicts poor treatment response generally. It has often been hypothesized that anhedonia can be deterred by a healthy lifestyle. However, it is quite unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach will be effective for everyone. In this study the effects of personalized lifestyle advice based on observed individual patterns of lifestyle behaviors and experienced pleasure will be examined. Further, we will explore whether a tandem skydive following the personalized lifestyle advice positively influences anhedonic young adults’ abilities to carry out the recommended lifestyle changes, and whether this ultimately improves their self-reported pleasure.
Our study design is an exploratory intervention study, preceded by a cross-sectional survey as a screening instrument. For the survey, 2000 young adults (18–24 years old) will be selected from the general population. Based on survey outcomes, 72 individuals (36 males and 36 females) with persistent anhedonia (i.e., more than two months) and 60 individuals (30 males and 30 females) without anhedonia (non-anhedonic control group) will be selected for the intervention study. The non-anhedonic control group will fill out momentary assessments of pleasure and lifestyle behaviors three times a day, for one month. The anhedonic individuals will fill out momentary assessments for three consecutive months. After the first month, the anhedonic individuals will be randomly assigned to (1) no intervention, (2) lifestyle advice only, (3) lifestyle advice plus tandem skydive. The personalized lifestyle advice is based on patterns observed in the first month.
The present study is the first to examine the effects of a personalized lifestyle advice and tandem skydive on pleasure in anhedonic young adults. Results of the present study may improve treatment for anhedonia, if the interventions are found to be effective.
Many psychiatric problem domains have been associated with emotion-specific biases or general deficiencies in facial emotion identification. However, both within and between psychiatric problem domains, large variability exists in the types of emotion identification problems that were reported. Moreover, since the domain-specificity of the findings was often not addressed, it remains unclear whether patterns found for specific problem domains can be better explained by co-occurrence of other psychiatric problems or by more generic characteristics of psychopathology, for example, problem severity. In this study, we aimed to investigate associations between emotion identification biases and five psychiatric problem domains, and to determine the domain-specificity of these biases. Data were collected as part of the ‘No Fun No Glory’ study and involved 2,577 young adults. The study participants completed a dynamic facial emotion identification task involving happy, sad, angry, and fearful faces, and filled in the Adult Self-Report Questionnaire, of which we used the scales depressive problems, anxiety problems, avoidance problems, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) problems and antisocial problems. Our results suggest that participants with antisocial problems were significantly less sensitive to happy facial emotions, participants with ADHD problems were less sensitive to angry emotions, and participants with avoidance problems were less sensitive to both angry and happy emotions. These effects could not be fully explained by co-occurring psychiatric problems. Whereas this seems to indicate domain-specificity, inspection of the overall pattern of effect sizes regardless of statistical significance reveals generic patterns as well, in that for all psychiatric problem domains the effect sizes for happy and angry emotions were larger than the effect sizes for sad and fearful emotions. As happy and angry emotions are strongly associated with approach and avoidance mechanisms in social interaction, these mechanisms may hold the key to understanding the associations between facial emotion identification and a wide range of psychiatric problems.
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