Losing interest in everything? Here are 5 psychiatrist-backed tips to regain interest in your life

Losing interest in everything? Here are 5 psychiatrist-backed tips to regain interest in your life

Reviewed by:
Michael Roman, MD
Staff Psychiatrist
at Talkiatry
February 20, 2024
In this article

A year ago, you could think of nothing better than a night catching up with old friends, or a long run on a brisk fall morning. Now, though, neither of those things sounds appealing at all. Come to think of it, nothing really holds any interest—aside from lying in bed—and you start to wonder: should I be concerned by this lack of motivation?

It’s natural that your feelings for your loved ones and hobbies will change over time, but sometimes a complete loss of interest in everything can be a sign of a mental health condition, especially depression.  

However, you should know that there are things you can do to treat depression and regain interest in your life. If you feel like you’re in a rut that you can’t get out of, read on for information about what possible causes might be, and five ways you can address or treat your loss of interest in everything—whether it’s caused by run-of-the-mill life changes or by a mental health condition.


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Why do I have no desire to do anything?

If you feel like the things that used to bring you pleasure no longer hold any interest for you, you might be experiencing what clinicians call anhedonia, which comes from the Greek an-, meaning “without,” and hēdonē, meaning “pleasure.” The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-5) defines anhedonia as “markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities.”  

Anhedonia can be physical, where you don’t feel pleasure at normally pleasurable bodily sensations like eating or having sex—and social, where you feel diminished pleasure in social situations. You can experience one or both.  

Similarly, clinicians sometimes separate anhedonia into two categories:  

  • The anticipatory category, or the motivational category, applies when you have trouble looking forward to an activity or pleasurable experience, like an upcoming event or a movie being released. This makes it difficult to feel motivated to socialize, make plans, or do the things that used to be fun, whether that’s going to someone’s birthday party or playing basketball.
  • The consummatory category applies when you don’t experience pleasure or positive emotions during an activity that used to or usually would be pleasurable. For example, you make it to that party, but find yourself unable to fully engage with your friends or family, or you get to your favorite restaurant and find you’re not enjoying the meal you used to love.

It’s common to experience one or a mix of these categories. It’s also normal to find yourself pretending to enjoy or fully participate in things even if you’re not actually feeling the corresponding emotions. There’s a difference between how we feel internally and how we outwardly portray our emotions. Because of this, the people around you might think you are fine, and that can be especially alienating.

Anhedonia is a core symptom of depressive disorders—in fact, it is one of the two symptoms of a major depressive episode (the other is a persistent depressed mood). It might also be a symptom of other mental-health conditions, including:

Feeling down and unmotivated? Anhedonia and a depressed mood are core signs of depression, but there are other symptoms too. To learn more about, check out: What does depression feel like?

Is depression always the cause of losing interest in everything?

There are plenty of reasons why your feelings might be changing about people, hobbies, or experiences you once enjoyed, or for overall disinterest and lack of motivation. It’s not always because of depression or another mental health condition. Here are a few other things that might explain your loss of interest:  

  • Burnout: Maybe you used to find your fast-paced career thrilling or your classes interesting, but lately you don’t feel able to access the pleasure you used to gain from succeeding at work or acing an exam. Perhaps you even feel a little bit cynical about a job or a major you once loved. This might be burnout, which is caused by work-related stress and usually can be addressed by taking a break from work or school.
  • Grief: If you’ve recently lost someone close to you, suddenly feeling uninterested in things you used to enjoy can be a natural part of the grieving process. It is usually temporary—and remember seeking support from people around you can also help during this painful time.
  • Aging: It is very common to lose interest in things you once loved as you get older. Sometimes the reasons for this are straightforward: Physical changes might make some hobbies like gardening more difficult to participate in, or your priorities might simply change as you get older. But when your waning interest is not due to these kinds of practical concerns—which you can address by finding hobbies that are more accessible or more aligned with your new interests—it could also be a sign of something else, like dementia or depression.

What to do if you’ve lost interest in everything

No matter the cause, there are things you can do to regain your interest and motivation. Here are five expert-backed changes and small steps that you can take in your daily routine to get on the path to feeling better and regaining pleasure, enjoyment, and interest.  

Let your loved ones know how you are feeling

Spending time with other people can help improve your mood. You might be feeling a bit distant or disconnected from your family and friends right now, especially if you’ve been pretending to enjoy their company or avoiding them entirely. This can make it hard to want to confide in them, but letting them know how you’re feeling can make it easier for them to support you. Plus, it can feel good to simply talk about what you’re feeling with someone.

Set a sleep routine

Getting poor quality sleep or not enough of it can be detrimental to your mental health and has been shown to contribute to depression and related conditions. The good news is that there are some small things you can do to improve your sleep. First, make sure your bedroom is sleep-ready, with curtains to make it appropriately dark, and that it’s quiet enough. Second, try to keep a regular bedtime with a relaxing routine that starts at least an hour before (no screen time), so you can unwind your body and your mind.  

Cut down on social media

According to recent research, heavy social-media use can be detrimental to mental health, especially for young people. It’s easy to see why, since social media causes you to compare yourself to others. Social media can also be isolating, especially when you rely on it in place of in-person interaction.  

You might be prone to this if you’re feeling like you’ve lost interest in socializing or other activities. If you’re living with anhedonia or similar feelings, try limiting how much time you spend on social media (setting a timer might help)—doing this has been proven to benefit mental and emotional wellness.

Exercise  

Exercise is extremely effective at improving your mental wellness and well-being: Not only does physical activity release endorphins (the “feel good” chemicals) and encourage the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, which can make you feel better, but it’s also a great way to help you sleep better. Just remember to avoid exercising late in the day.

You don’t have to exercise intensely: Even something as simple as a brisk 10-minute walk, maybe while listening to your favorite podcast, can be beneficial. Try to prioritize exercise that gets you outside, because being outside at least once a day can improve both your mood and your sleep.  

Embrace mindfulness and meditation

If you're looking to regain interest and motivation, incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine can make a real difference. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, without judgment, while meditation helps quiet the mind and achieve deep relaxation. These practices bring numerous benefits, including reduced stress, enhanced mental clarity, and a sense of inner peace. B others. Mindfulness meditation is also a great option to focus your attention and develop mental clarity.

Talk to a professional

A qualified mental health professional, like a psychiatrist or therapist, can help you figure out if your lack of interest in everything is caused by depression or another mental health condition. They can also help you figure out what treatment option is best for you.  

These treatments may include medication like antidepressants, and/or talk therapy, which can help you understand what you’re going through and learn how to integrate some coping strategies. If you’re looking for an in-network provider, Talkiatry can match you with the right psychiatrist and/or therapist for you.  

Getting help and treatment for loss of interest

When you’re feeling uninterested in things you used to enjoy, finding the motivation to fix things might feel impossible. But self-care and getting help doesn’t have to mean doing everything by yourself. If you think depression might be the cause of your loss of interest, the first step is getting a diagnosis. That starts with talking to a professional.

Talkiatry is a national mental health practice that provides in-network psychiatry and therapy. We can help treat depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, and more—all from the comfort of your home. Take our quick assessment to get matched with one of our expert psychiatrists and schedule a virtual visit.

The information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and should never be substituted for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right now.

Dr. Michael Roman is currently a Staff Psychiatrist at Talkiatry. He completed his adult psychiatry residency training at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Roman is a board-certified Adult Psychiatrist and a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Dr. Roman’s clinical practice centers primarily around medication management and psychopharmacological treatment approaches. He also specializes in a variety of psychotherapeutic modalities which he utilizes in conjunction with medication management in order to provide patients with the best possible treatment outcomes.

Dr. Roman’s curiosity for the studies of the human mind began with pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He was intrigued by the way our mind, body, emotions, and behavior were intertwined to comprise our everyday life experiences. His interest in the intricacy of the human mind was deepened in medical school, and he received his medical degree from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He completed his adult psychiatry residency training at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Roman treats a wide spectrum of patients, but his primary clinical focus is treating mood disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. Dr. Roman also specializes in treating substance use disorders and possesses clinical expertise in implementing high quality motivational interviewing and motivational enhancing therapy.

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