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Psychiatry Res. 2010 Sep 30;179(2):176-80. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2009.06.013. Epub 2010 May 16.

The effects of anhedonia and depression on hedonic responses.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA.


Anhedonia is one of the key symptoms of major depression. The present study examined whether depressive symptoms and trait anhedonia are associated with deficits in anticipated, experienced, or recalled pleasure and satisfaction (hedonic responses, HR). Sixty-one college students tasted chocolate samples in the lab. Participants' anticipated, experienced, and recalled HR were obtained prior to the task, during the task, and 1 day later, respectively. Anticipatory anhedonia, but not consummatory anhedonia or depression, predicted anticipated HR. In contrast, participants' levels of anticipatory and consummatory anhedonia and depression were not predictive of their experienced and recalled HRs. Depressed individuals showed lower tendency to overpredict their HRs to the task relative to nondepressed individuals. We conclude that clinical reports of anhedonia and depression in a college student population primarily reflect low levels of anticipation of reward, and tendency to accurately estimate their enjoyment of future rewards. If replicated, these results may have important implications for assessing and managing anhedonia associated with depression in clinical settings.

Copyright © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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