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What is loss of interest or pleasure?

Have you stopped enjoying the things you used to like, and don’t know why? Maybe you’re finding it hard to get motivated about anything. Does it seem as if nothing matters? When you experience a loss of interest, it can be upsetting to you and your family and friends and can be a signal of a condition that needs attention.

Some Veterans experience loss of interest or loss of motivation after a traumatic event — like an injury or health problem or the death of a friend or loved one. Others may have lose of interest in activities after experiencing a major life event — such as a new baby, coming home after deployment, or retirement — even if the event is a positive one. Some people lose interest in things without an obvious explanation.

“He did not want to go hunting. He didn’t care if he went fishing. He golfed, but I don’t think he found joy in it. I think it was just something to do to get out of the house.”

Many people temporarily feel like this at some point in their lives. However, a loss of interest or pleasure that is ongoing or severe may be a symptom of depression. Depression is a condition that needs treatment; it is not a sign of weakness. Loss of interest and pleasure can also be a sign of other conditions that need attention. You may feel like you've lost your ability to enjoy life, which can take a toll on your relationships, work, and everyday activities. There are steps you can take to address these issues and help you get back to enjoying things that are important to you.

If I’m experiencing loss of interest or pleasure, what can I do about it right away?

  • Walk, jog, or work out. Physical activity can improve your mood and help you sleep better.
  • Eat healthy meals regularly. Good nutrition helps your body and your mind.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep. Getting quality sleep can help you feel better.
  • Practice relaxation or grounding techniques. A shower, deep breathing, or time in a quiet place to collect your thoughts can help relieve stress and get you through difficult moments.
  • Visit a friend. Spending some time with friends can lift your spirits.
  • Try to plan some sort of pleasurable activity at least once a day, even if it’s something small and even if you aren’t sure whether you will enjoy it.

Talking to your family and friends about what you're feeling can be an important first step. They may be able to provide support and help you discover what might be causing you to lose interest in the things you once enjoyed.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with useful resources and effective treatments for dealing with symptoms like loss of interest or pleasure. If loss of interest or loss of pleasure is affecting your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does. If you feel comfortable enough with your physician, he or she may be able to help you find tools to manage loss of interest or pleasure even without direct experience with Veterans.
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
  • A spiritual or religious adviser

Explore these resources for more information for Veterans about loss of interest or pleasure.

Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to loss of interest or pleasure, such as social withdrawal and isolation, depression, posttraumatic stress, and feelings of hopelessness.

You can take this free, confidential self-assessment to see if you may have symptoms of depression. Although it cannot diagnose depression, it can indicate whether it’s a good idea to see a professional for further assessment.

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Loss of interest or pleasure may be related to other health conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA's Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.