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Loss of Interest or Pleasure

Veterans' Voices on Hopelessness/ Loss of Interest

Finding hope again and reconnecting

Some Veterans find that they feel numb and lose interest in things they used to enjoy. Others start to feel hopeless, which may lead to thoughts of suicide. By reaching out for support, these Veterans connected to resources for recovery, including counseling or the Veterans Crisis Line. Learn how they discovered ways to enjoy life again.

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.

Some Veterans experience loss of motivation after a traumatic event—like an injury or health problem or losing a friend or loved one. Others may have a loss of interest in activities after experiencing a major life event—such as having a baby, coming home after deployment, or retirement—even if such a life event does not seem traumatic. Some people seem to have lost interest in things, even though there’s not 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.”

Loss of interest or not taking pleasure in anything you do may be a symptom of depression. Depression is a treatable condition. It is not a sign of weakness. Loss of interest and pleasure may also be connected to other underlying 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?

“After I started therapy at VA, my wife said she saw a change in me. She saw a passion come back into my life that was gone. She saw me getting out of the basement again and showing an interest in other people.”

  • 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 or not

Talking to your family and friends can be a first step. You may want to talk to them about what you’re feeling. 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 family doctor: Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does
  • 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 advisor

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

Learn more about the possible associations between loss of interest and pleasure and other issues 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 the assessment cannot tell you for sure if you are depressed, it can show whether it’s a good idea to see a professional for further assessment.

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran or experienced any sexual trauma during your military service, 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.

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
This website will allow you to search for VA programs located near you. If you are eligible to receive care through the Veterans Health Administration, you can enroll in one of VA’s treatment programs.

Listen: Browse the video gallery to find stories most relevant to you. Locate: Find resources near you that can help get your life back on track.