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Pleasure returns after lifestyle advice

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16 November 2016

​Individual lifestyle advice increases the ability to feel pleasure in everyday activities and improves positive emotions in sufferers of anhedonia, or loss of pleasure.  A parachute jump does not have a positive effect. These are the findings of a study by Tineke Oldehinkel and her research group at the UMCG. The group published an article about its research in Behavioral Therapy.

Anhedonia and feeling depressed are the two main symptoms of depression. Anhedonia is a nasty symptom that is difficult to treat. In their research Oldehinkel and her colleagues looked at whether the ability to experience pleasure in young adults suffering from anhedonia improved after receiving personalized lifestyle advice. They also studied whether a parachute jump would boost the participants’ ability to experience pleasure by motivating them to implement the lifestyle changes. There are indications that the psychological and biological effects of free-fall experiences give the motivational system a boost. 

The study

The researchers followed 69 participants suffering from anhedonia. These they divided into three groups: one group received no treatment, one group was given individual lifestyle advices and one was given individual lifestyle advices and did a parachute jump. The advices, three per person, were based on a questions about pleasure and lifestyle factors that the participants answered over a period of a month, three times a day.

Effect of lifestyle advice

The results of the research show that the lifestyle advice increased the ability to feel pleasure and positive emotions in the participants. Those who received the advice experienced a greater improvement than those who did not. The parachute jump had no additional effect: the participants who received advice in combination with the jump did not experience greater improvement than the participants who only received the advice.