Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anhedonia and Parenting

Anhedonia is the inability to enjoy pleasure at a very severe level. This is a chemical change in the brain caused by dopamine flooding the pleasure centers to the point that they no longer work correctly, which can lead to clinical depression and suicide. This dopamine flooding can be caused by many different things, but is usually found in cocaine and meth addicts.

You might be saying so what, but the scary thing is that our children are in real danger of suffering this problem due to daily over stimulation. If your kids, who are involved fifty different activities weekly, are constantly telling you they are bored this is a symptom. I am not trying to scare anyone because this condition is 100% reversible. We need to slow down the amount of stimulation that our kids get. When was the last time the kids played quietly with a non-electronic devise? Do your kids play with blocks, dolls, or cars?

When I was a kid we rarely were indoors and TV was a treat. We made forts in the woods and played with matchbox cars in the driveway. The toys were simple like Tonka trucks and bikes. Do your kids read for fun? I have had a hard time passing these simple pleasures on to my kids, but I see I have done them a great disservice. Video games are addictive and fast paced movies are what they crave, but it isn't what they need. A good book can open a whole world of adventure without creating adrenaline junkies.

You might be asking, why would I post on this issue. I will tell you that the generation of adrenaline junkies that we are raising is going to have to have more and more stimulus until it kills them or we help them break the habit. Also, if you are an adrenaline junkie and find yourself depressed all the time there is hope. Slow down and let your brain heal. If it is too far gone then seek professional help.

The public service announcement was brought to you by a recovering adrenaline junkie. If you disagree let me hear it.


  1. While I agree that TV and videogames are damaging to children, I don't think it is from overstimulation, but understimulation. Studies have shown that you burn more calories staring at a blank wall than at the TV because when looking at a wall, you eventually begin to think.

    Cocaine and meth addicts suffer from anhedonia in part because of the way those drugs interact with the production of dopamine. You see, dopamine doesn't just hang around. After the first initial burst at say. . . biting into a piece of chocolate, the excess is reabsorbed for distribution at a later time. With meth and coke, however, it will just hang around, ultimately depleting the overall store of the drug in the human body. That is why it takes six months to a year to fully recover from addiction to that drug. The good news is, it isn't brain chemistry causing the behavior you described in children. It is just a habit, and as you said, completely reversible.

    It is nice to hear a parent taking an interest in a child's wellbeing rather than "dealing" with them.

  2. Merry,

    I do relate to what you are saying about dopamine release and up take. I simplified the chemical reactions, but not the result of dopamine flooding. The flooding causes the brain to not be able to react to that bite of chocolate the same way anymore because it has been over stimulated time and time again.

    If you pay close attention to the stuff children are being exposed to on TV, movies, internet, and video games you will see a frentic pace of action/stimulus. This constant bombardment of action is what I was trying to point out. The child loses the ability to be react appropriately to a lower level of stimulus, so requires even more death defying action or tries it at home to get the thrill (i.e. Jackass).

    I welcome any ideas on how to break this cycle of rampant violent stimulus being shot at our children.

    Thank you for opening the discussion. Lets hear it people what do you think. Am I off my rocker?