Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/26/2022
We all have days when we just don’t feel interested in doing anything, whether it’s leaving the house or spending time with friends and family.
While it’s normal to experience a loss of interest in certain things from time to time, when your hobbies, activities and social life no longer feel interesting at all, it could be a sign of a mental health issue such as depression.
Loss of interest often occurs with other depression symptoms, and it’s important to take action when you start to feel like nothing is interesting, fun or fulfilling anymore.
Below, we’ve explained what causes a loss of interest, as well as how you might feel if you no longer have any interest in taking part in your normal daily activities.
We’ve also discussed the treatment options that are available for a loss of interest or pleasure, whether it occurs as a result of a temporary setback in life or a serious mental health issue like depression or anxiety.
Experts refer to a loss of interest, pleasure and emotions as anhedonia. It’s a known symptom of many mental illnesses, including some anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and several forms of depression.
If you have anhedonia, things that used to feel pleasurable and fulfilling, such as spending time with friends and family members, taking part in your hobbies or just getting out of the house for dinner and a movie, may no longer feel enjoyable.
Because it affects what you enjoy, anhedonia can have a serious impact on your quality of life and behavior. You may feel like doing certain things is pointless, causing you to withdraw from your friends, family and other people who care about you.
Sometimes, anhedonia that’s caused by depression can affect your interest in sex and lead to issues such as sexual dysfunction. This is referred to as sexual anhedonia.
In general, anhedonia is thought of as a symptom of certain mental disorders, not as a distinct mental disorder itself. You may experience a loss of motivation or interest in certain parts of life if you:
Suffer from major depression (also referred to as clinical depression)
Have another form of depression, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Are experiencing a mood swing that affects your interest in certain things
Have an anxiety disorder that makes certain activities less enjoyable
Have a substance use disorder, including alcohol abuse
Suffer from Parkinson’s disease or chronic pain (part of somatic symptom disorder)
When a loss of interest develops as a result of depression, it may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a low mood, lack of energy, feelings of hopelessness and difficulty focusing, remembering things and making decisions.
Depression can also cause physical symptoms, such as aches, pains and discomfort. When it’s severe, you may even start to experience suicidal thoughts.
Make sure to pay attention to these signs of depression, as they could be a signal that you need to seek help from a mental health provider.
It’s important to keep in mind that occasionally losing interest in certain things doesn’t mean that you're mentally or physically unhealthy.
For example, even the most exciting activities can get old after a while, whether it’s watching a particularly exciting TV series, playing sports or learning a certain skill. Feeling bored or tired of something is a normal, natural part of life, not a sign that you have anhedonia.
Anhedonia occurs when you find it difficult to feel pleasure or excitement at all, whether it’s from socializing with other people, taking part in your favorite hobbies and activities, or just spending time out of the house doing things you normally enjoy.
If you’re feeling less interested in life than normal, it’s important to take action and, if necessary, to seek help.
A loss of interest in your hobbies, friends and family doesn’t need to last forever. In fact, with the right combination of changes to your habits and lifestyle, therapy and medication, you should be able to put your feelings behind you and enjoy a fulfilling, fun life once again.
Try the eight techniques below to overcome a loss of interest and bring pleasure back into your daily life.
If you’re feeling completely uninterested in life, one of the best things that you can do is to chat with a mental health professional.
You can do this by asking your primary care provider for a mental health referral, by scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist in your local area, or from home by using our depression treatment online service.
A sudden, severe lack of interest in life is often a signal that you’re experiencing a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety. Talking to a mental health provider can help you to find out why you’re feeling this way, as well as if you have a specific mental condition.
If appropriate, your mental health provider may suggest using medication or participating in talk therapy, or psychotherapy. They may also suggest making changes to your daily habits to lower the impact that your feelings have on your quality of life.
When your loss of interest in life is caused by a depressive disorder, it’s important to follow your mental health provider’s instructions and, if necessary, to use medication.
Medications such as antidepressants can help to lower the severity of symptoms of depression, including anhedonia. Using medication is especially valuable if you have severe symptoms that don’t get better on their own.
Several types of medication are used to treat depression, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These antidepressants work by increasing serotonin activity in your brain — a natural chemical that’s involved in regulating your moods and feelings.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may suggest using a different type of antidepressant to treat your reduced interest and other symptoms, such as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA).
Antidepressants are effective, but they can take several weeks to start working. You may notice that your mood, sleep and other symptoms improve gradually after you start treatment with this type of medication.
Our full list of antidepressants goes into more detail about how these medications work, as well as the effects you can expect if you’re prescribed one to treat a loss of interest in life caused by depression.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a type of therapy that involves talking with a licensed mental health provider to identify negative emotions, thoughts and patterns of behavior, then learning new ways to deal with them effectively.
Talk therapy is generally used to treat depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, but it’s also effective at reducing stress and resolving interpersonal issues.
A variety of different forms of talk therapy are used to treat anhedonia and other symptoms of depression, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. This involves becoming aware of negative ways of thinking, then changing self-defeating thoughts and behavioral patterns.
You can take part in therapy with a local mental health provider, or from home using our online therapy. Your mental health provider may recommend taking part in therapy while you use medication to gain more control over your feelings.
Our guide to the types of therapy goes into more detail about how psychotherapy can help you to improve your thoughts, feelings and behavior to overcome a loss of interest in life.
When you’re feeling uninterested in getting out of the house, physical activities may be the last thing on your mind. However, research suggests that exercising may help to lift your mood and bring you back to your normal life.
For example, experts have found that exercising stimulates the release of endorphins — natural chemicals that can improve your mood. Regular physical activities are also linked to the release of proteins referred to as neurotrophic factors, which can improve your brain function.
These effects may help to lower the severity of some symptoms of depression, including a lack of interest in your normal hobbies and activities.
Other scientific research has found that a lack of pleasure is inversely linked with the frequency of physical activity (meaning people who exercise frequently were the least likely to be affected by a loss of interest in daily life).
The good news is that even small amounts of exercise can have a real positive impact on your physical and mental health.
Try to follow the CDC’s suggestions and get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking or a bike ride around your neighborhood, along with at least two muscle-strengthening workouts.
You can also try adding regular yoga therapy, which is linked to improvements in depression, to your weekly to-do list.
When you’re feeling sad, disappointed and uninterested in life, it’s easy to avoid thinking about the future.
One way to potentially break out of a negative mood and regain your interest in life is to make a plan for the next few weeks, months or years, then start taking action toward accomplishing the things you’d like to do.
Your plan could feature professional ambitions, such as getting a promotion or reaching a higher income level. It could include places you’d like to travel to, events you’d like to attend or specific qualifications you’d like to gain.
Even small and simple things, like reconnecting with old friends or spending more time with your family, can serve as important goals when you plan for the future.
This type of stress management technique is referred to as proactive coping, and it can work as a valuable tool for personal growth. Try setting five to 10 personal goals, both small and large, then using them as a source of inspiration to take action and regain your interest in life.
When you’re feeling less interested in your life, it’s easy to withdraw from your relationships and spend more of your time alone.
If you have clinical depression, this self-imposed isolation could end up making your symptoms more severe. For example, research shows a link between social isolation and sleep difficulties, depression, impaired executive function and even cognitive decline.
Even if you don’t feel motivated to socialize, try to spend time with your close friends and family members on a regular basis. Even a quick meeting for coffee or a family dinner can give you a chance to catch up with others and stimulate your mind.
Not only can spending time with others help you to feel better — it also gives you the opportunity to confide about how you’re feeling in people you trust.
If your loss of interest turns out to be a symptom of clinical depression, anxiety or another form of mental illness, this support network can help you to access professional care and make real progress toward recovery.
Sometimes, a lack of interest in something doesn’t develop solely due to depression or anxiety, but from boredom.
If you feel burned out on a specific hobby, sport or other aspect of your life, try replacing it with something new. This could mean trying a new sport, learning a new language, acquiring a new skill or just switching to a different hobby to keep your mind engaged and active.
Not only can certain hobbies keep life interesting, but some can also lower stress and improve your mental health. For example, mindfulness meditation is a pleasurable activity that can help to treat depression and anxiety.
Variety in the spice of life, and sometimes a week or two of something new is all that’s required to reignite your interest in other things.
Anhedonia can be a serious issue, and even with proactive effort and care, it’s rare to go from losing interest in everything to suddenly enjoying life overnight.
If you’ve recently felt less interested than normal in hobbies, relationships and other aspects of your life, focus on taking small steps. This could mean setting aside a few minutes a day to get back into an old hobby, or meeting up with friends and family once a week.
If you’re taking part in therapy, it could mean thinking about a single session at a time and using your new problem-solving skills on a daily basis.
Progress toward feeling better is rarely rapid, but it does happen. Focus on making small, real improvements on a daily basis and, over the long term, you’ll hopefully notice your life become richer and more enjoyable once again.
It’s normal to go through ups and downs, both mentally and physically. We all have days where we feel uninterested in life, and there’s no shame in spending the occasional day or two in bed with a good TV series and a mind free of responsibilities when that’s what you need.
However, when you feel yourself losing interest in your hobbies, activities and relationships for long periods of time, it’s important to take action and make changes.
Start by trying the approaches above, whether it’s making plans for the next few months of your life, spending more time with friends and family or using boredom and anhedonia as a source of inspiration to work out more, improve your diet or learn a new skill.
If your symptoms are persistent, don’t hesitate to ask your primary care provider for help or talk to an expert using our online mental health services.
You can also use our free online mental health resources to learn new strategies for developing resilience, caring for yourself and improving your mental state, including in ways that could help to reduce anhedonia and let you regain the passion that produces a happy, fulfilling life.