In the participants with loss of pleasure, blood samples were collected every month during the study period, as well as 6 months and 12 months after the end of the study. In these blood samples, we measured serotonin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, testosterone, CRP, TNF-alpha and IL-6. Before and after the tandem skydive we took 4 saliva samples, in which we measured alpha-amylase.
Following a month of diary assessments (observation month), participants were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 interventions:
• No intervention
• Personalized lifestyle advice (based on 30 days of diary assessments)
• Personalized lifestyle advice + a tandem skydive.
Subsequently, participants filled in the diaries again (month of intervention). After the intervention month participants were free to choose 1 of the 3 interventions.
Behavioral activation is an important component in existing interventions for depression and loss of pleasure. These behavioral interventions try to encourage patients to do things they enjoy.
The idea was that a personalized approach of providing tailor-made lifestyle advice would motivate participants more to actually get involved in activities than common advices.
Here you see a part of the lifestyle advice: feedback on the personal pleasure networks. Each participant received 2 to 3 lifestyle recommendations based on what was experienced as pleasurable by that particular participant during the past month.
People who suffer from pleasure loss are often not motivated to do things they can enjoy. Thus, they may be captured in a vicious circle of little motivation and little pleasure. An intensive thrill experience could help break this circle.
Previous research shows that intensive thrill experiences have a positive effect on the human psyche (thinking) and biology (hormone system).
We wanted to test whether an intense thrill experience like a tandem skydive could help to realize lifestyle changes.
For more information on the procedures of our study, please download our study protocol here.