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Anhedonia and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in psychiatric outpatients: The role of acuity [2018]

1 Background
Anhedonia—impairment related to the experience of pleasure—has been identified as a potential risk factor for suicide, with some mixed findings. The current study sought to clarify the role of acuity of anhedonia in the relationship between anhedonia and suicidal thoughts and behaviors by comparing acutely and chronically anhedonic subjects on severity of suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempt (SA) history.

2 Methods
Psychiatric outpatients (N = 395) were administered the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, the Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation and a modified version of the Snaith–Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHPS); SI measures were readministered at a 1‐month follow‐up (N = 289, 73%). Participants were classified as acutely anhedonic, chronically anhedonic and nonanhedonic based on their responses to the SHPS at initial assessment.

3 Results
Controlling for symptoms of anxiety and depression, acute anhedonia was cross‐sectionally and prospectively associated with greater severity of SI compared to the nonanhedonic group; no differences in severity of SI were found between the chronically anhedonic and nonanhedonic group at either time point. Anhedonia grouping was not associated with SA history.

4 Conclusion
Changes in capacity to experience pleasure may be more informative of near‐term SI than typically low pleasure levels. Future investigation should focus on the relationship between acute anhedonia and imminent suicidal behavior.

Mariah Hawes, Igor Galynker, Shira Barzilay, Zimri S. Yaseen

Depression & Anxiety, 14 August 2018

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