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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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. 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. 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. 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1218-1227
Number of pages10
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • assessment/diagnosis
  • depression
  • dysthymic disorder
  • measurement/psychometrics
  • suicide/self-harm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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