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Open Access Highly Accessed Primary research

Anhedonia in schizophrenia and major depression: state or trait?

Lorenzo Pelizza* and Alberto Ferrari

Author Affiliations

Guastalla Psychiatric Service, Reggio Emilia Mental Health Department, Reggio Emilia, Italy

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Annals of General Psychiatry 2009, 8:22  doi:10.1186/1744-859X-8-22

Published: 8 October 2009

Abstract

Background

In schizophrenia and major depressive disorder, anhedonia (a loss of capacity to feel pleasure) had differently been considered as a premorbid personological trait or as a main symptom of their clinical picture. The aims of this study were to examine the pathological features of anhedonia in schizophrenic and depressed patients, and to investigate its clinical relations with general psychopathology (negative, positive, and depressive dimensions).

Methods

A total of 145 patients (80 schizophrenics and 65 depressed subjects) were assessed using the Physical Anhedonia Scale and the Social Anhedonia Scale (PAS and SAS, respectively), the Scales for the Assessment of Positive and Negative Symptoms (SAPS and SANS, respectively), the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenics (CDSS), and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). The statistical analysis was performed in two steps. First, the schizophrenic and depressed samples were dichotomised into 'anhedonic' and 'normal hedonic' subgroups (according to the 'double (PAS/SAS) cut-off') and were compared on the general psychopathology scores using the Mann-Whitney Z test. Subsequently, for the total schizophrenic and depressed samples, Spearman correlations were calculated to examine the relation between anhedonia ratings and the other psychopathological parameters.

Results

In the schizophrenic sample, anhedonia reached high significant levels only in 45% of patients (n = 36). This 'anhedonic' subgroup was distinguished by high scores in the disorganisation and negative dimensions. Positive correlations of anhedonia with disorganised and negative symptoms were also been detected. In the depressed sample, anhedonia reached high significant levels in only 36.9% of subjects (n = 24). This 'anhedonic' subgroup as distinguished by high scores in the depression severity and negative dimensions. Positive correlations of anhedonia with depressive and negative symptoms were also been detected.

Conclusion

In the schizophrenic sample, anhedonia seems to be a specific subjective psychopathological experience of the negative and disorganised forms of schizophrenia. In the depressed sample, anhedonia seems to be a specific subjective psychopathological experience of those major depressive disorder forms with a marked clinical depression severity.