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With Anxiety, Anhedonia May Lead to Depression

J Affect Disord; ePub 2017 Jun 14; Winer, Bryant, et al

Anxiety may devolve into depression through anhedonia, such that anxious individuals begin to lose pleasure in anxiety-provoking activities, which results in the development of other depressive symptoms, according to a recent study. In 3 studies, participants were asked about their symptoms of anxiety and depression. In Study 1, 109 participants completed measures of anxiety, depression, activity avoidance, and perceived enjoyability and importance of avoided activities; in Study 2, 747 participants completed measures of anhedonia, anxiety, depression, and defensiveness; in Study 3, 216 participants completed measures assessing the same constructs as in Study 2 at 4 time-points (ranging 11 months in span). Researchers found:

  • In Study 1, symptoms of anxiety and depression were only positively related in individuals who relinquished potential enjoyment due to their anxiety-related avoidance.
  • In Study 2, the indirect effect of anhedonia helped explain how anxiety symptoms imparted risk onto depressive symptoms.
  • In Study 3, anxiety led to anhedonia and then depression over time and anhedonia led to anxiety and then depression at both 5 and 11 months.


Winer ES, Bryant J, Bartoszek G, Rojas E, Nadroff MR, Kilgore J. Mapping the relationship between anxiety, anhedonia, and depression. [Published online ahead of print June 14, 2017]. J Affect Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2017.06.006.