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Loss of Interest or Pleasure

Learn more about experiencing loss of interest, treatment options, self-help tools, and resources to help you overcome challenges.

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 to connect with care.

Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments for dealing with symptoms like loss of interest or pleasure. Here’s how to take the next step: the one that’s right for you.

New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.

Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.

  • If you’re already enrolled and using VA health care, the fastest way to schedule VA appointments is to call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
  • With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.
  • If you’re not using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.

What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.  

  • The Veteran Training online self-help portal for overcoming everyday challenges includes modules on managing anger, developing parenting and problem-solving skills, and more.
  • Mental health apps for Veterans cover a variety of topics, ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
  • VA TeleMental Health connects you with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device in your home or at your nearest VA health facility. You can learn more about this option from your local VA medical center.
  • Vet Centers provide support, counseling, and readjustment services for Veterans and active duty service members (including members of the National Guard and Reserve) who have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility or have experienced a military sexual trauma. Find a Vet Center near you or call 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk with a fellow combat Veteran about your experiences, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What about support beyond VA?

There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you.

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.