Nothing Seems to Excite My Husband

Reader’s Question

I’ve been with my husband for ten years. I’m quite sure he has some kind of disorder, but I’m not sure what it is. I am hoping you can help me put a name to it so I can do further research about it.

For years, I have tried to get my husband interested in some sort of hobby, to no avail. It took me that long to figure things out, but eventually it became clear that he gets no apparent feeling of satisfaction for a “job well done,” no apparent feelings of joy, happiness or contentment from creating anything. He becomes easily bored with most sorts of entertainment and is easily jaded. Very few things really interest him, and even then he’s far from the ecstatic type about anything at all.

He has had some moderate depression in the past, although he is not on medication currently. He had an extremely adverse reaction to Prozac several years ago and is afraid any of the newer medications may produce similar effects.

If you have any opinions or insight, I would love to hear from you. I have never encountered anyone in my life who doesn’t seem to get passionate about something, even if that something is not healthy.

Any thoughts?

Psychologist’s Reply

There are many possibilities, all of which must be sorted through by a competent professional via a thorough evaluation. One possibility is that your husband is experiencing one of the most frequent symptoms that accompanies depression, namely anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to derive pleasure from life events and circumstances. It’s a most significant sign of depression when the loss of pleasure occurs to things and circumstances that once evoked joy for a person.

Another possibility is a chronic, low-level depression that professionals often call “dysthymia.” Dysthymia suffers have low-level depressions that last for months or even years.

There are also certain personality types that to varying degrees are relatively disinclined to experience excitement from external stimuli. Introverts tend to derive most of their emotional satisfaction from their inner life. They tend to enjoy reading, daydreaming, musing, etc. and are not oriented toward people, activities or any source of external stimulation.

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Some individuals are born with very pacific temperaments and lack normal levels of reactivity. The personality formation of such individuals can be heavily influenced by such a temperament.

Lastly, although it is not formally recognized as a distinct personality type, some individuals appear to have “depressive” personalities, characterized by a chronic negativism, a tendency toward isolation, an expectation of disappointment, and low activity level.

The possibilities discussed above are by no means exhaustive. Because of the many possibilities, it’s important that you and your husband openly discuss matters and that your situation be comprehensively evaluated by a competent mental health professional. Simply seeing a doctor to secure some sort of medication not only pays insufficient attention to the possible reasons for the issues at hand but also is likely to prove insufficient to address the issues appropriately. Medications might prove helpful, but they are not likely to represent the overall solution to your concerns.

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