Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Chad Knoderer


Background: Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, is an important symptom of depression because it may be involved in preventing complete recovery and facilitating depression relapse. The relationship between depression severity and anhedonia in patients being treated with antidepressants has not been widely studied. The objective of this study was to characterize the alleviation of anhedonia in patients taking antidepressants for depression.

Methods: This was a prospective survey distributed at three outpatient psychiatric settings. Subjects above the age of twenty who indicated a depression diagnosis were included. Subjects with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse disorder were excluded. A 37-question survey was distributed from January 27, 2016 to March 8, 2016. The survey included demographic questions, the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS) to determine presence of anhedonia, and the Clinically Useful Depression Outcomes Scale (CUDOS) to quantify depression severity.

Results: Seventy one surveys were included in the study with 83% of them being female. There was a moderate positive correlation between depression severity and the prevalence of anhedonia (p<0.001). Ninety percent of patients had been on antidepressants for over two months; 70% had depression and 43% had anhedonia. Significant proportions of patients were involved in psychotherapy and had comorbid anxiety disorders. No significant conclusions were found about the relationship between drug class and anhedonia.

Conclusion: Anhedonia in depressed patients may not be as persistent to antidepressants as hypothesized, and it is more prevalent in patients with more severe depression. No specific treatment approaches were identified to target anhedonia.