Provide a formal definition of anhedonia

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When supported by strong clinical data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should provide a formal indication for a specific psychiatric symptom when that symptom has been mapped onto specific neuronal circuits.


Mental health and substance use disorders (MH/SUDs) are complex, and for some conditions there may never be a single medication that effectively treats an entire condition (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia). However, researchers have successfully mapped many specific symptoms onto specific neuronal circuits.[1] For example, researchers have mapped the neuronal circuitry for anhedonia, the reduced ability to experience pleasure. Anhedonia is an important and overlooked aspect of opioid use disorder.[2] Where good supportive data exists, the FDA should give a formal indication for medications to treat specific symptoms such as anhedonia regardless of MH/SUD diagnosis.

FDA-approved indications for medicines to treat specific psychiatric symptoms would encourage on-label prescribing across diagnoses where an individual experiences that specific symptom. Such indications would also encourage medication development because medications to treat a specific symptom that has been mapped onto a specific neuronal circuit would have broader indications than one or more diagnoses.


1. Gorwood, Philip MD. “Neurobiological mechanisms of anhedonia.” PMC PubMed Central. Last Updated September 10, 2008.

2. Kiluk, Brian D., Sarah Yip, Elise E. DeVito, Kathleen M. Carroll, and Mehmet Sofuoglu. “Anhedonia as a key clinical feature in the maintenance and treatment of opioid use disorder” PMC PubMed Central. Last Updated September 23, 2019.