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Loss of Interest or Pleasure

Learn more about experiencing loss of interest, treatment options, self-help tools, and resources to help you overcome challenges.

What is loss of interest or pleasure?

Have you stopped enjoying the things you used to like, and don’t know why? Maybe you’re finding it hard to get motivated about anything. Does it seem as if nothing matters? When you experience a loss of interest, it can be upsetting to you and your family and friends and can be a signal of a condition that needs attention.

Some Veterans experience loss of interest or loss of motivation after a traumatic event — like an injury or health problem or the death of a friend or loved one. Others may have lose of interest in activities after experiencing a major life event — such as a new baby, coming home after deployment, or retirement — even if the event is a positive one. Some people lose interest in things without an obvious explanation.

“He did not want to go hunting. He didn’t care if he went fishing. He golfed, but I don’t think he found joy in it. I think it was just something to do to get out of the house.”

Many people temporarily feel like this at some point in their lives. However, a loss of interest or pleasure that is ongoing or severe may be a symptom of depression. Depression is a condition that needs treatment; it is not a sign of weakness. Loss of interest and pleasure can also be a sign of other conditions that need attention. You may feel like you've lost your ability to enjoy life, which can take a toll on your relationships, work, and everyday activities. There are steps you can take to address these issues and help you get back to enjoying things that are important to you.

If I’m experiencing loss of interest or pleasure, what can I do about it right away?

  • Walk, jog, or work out. Physical activity can improve your mood and help you sleep better.
  • Eat healthy meals regularly. Good nutrition helps your body and your mind.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep. Getting quality sleep can help you feel better.
  • Practice relaxation or grounding techniques. A shower, deep breathing, or time in a quiet place to collect your thoughts can help relieve stress and get you through difficult moments.
  • Visit a friend. Spending some time with friends can lift your spirits.
  • Try to plan some sort of pleasurable activity at least once a day, even if it’s something small and even if you aren’t sure whether you will enjoy it.

Talking to your family and friends about what you're feeling can be an important first step. They may be able to provide support and help you discover what might be causing you to lose interest in the things you once enjoyed.

Take the next step to connect with care.

Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments. Here’s how to take the next step: the one that’s right for you.

Read VA's latest coronavirus information. If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please call before you visit your local medical center or clinic. If you have an appointment, consider making it a telehealth appointment.

New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.

Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.

  • If you’re already enrolled and using VA health care, the fastest way to schedule VA appointments is to call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
  • With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.
  • If you’re not using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.

What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.  

  • The Veteran Training online self-help portal for overcoming everyday challenges includes modules on managing anger, developing parenting and problem-solving skills, and more.
  • Mental health apps for Veterans cover a variety of topics, ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
  • VA TeleMental Health connects you with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device in your home or at your nearest VA health facility. You can learn more about this option from your local VA medical center.
  • Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers across the nation in all 50 states and US territories that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, Service members – including National Guard and Reserve components – and their families. Counselors and outreach staff, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief and transition after trauma. To learn more, visit the Vet Center website or find a nearest Vet Center. Teams are also available 24/7 by phone at 1-877-927-8387.

What about support beyond VA?

There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you.

Explore these resources for more information for Veterans about loss of interest or pleasure.

Read Next

Managing PTSD

PTSD may develop as a result of traumatic events. Treatment works and can help you deal with PTSD symptoms.

Overcoming Depression

Depression can interfere with relationships, work and the ability to get through the day and it can affects Veterans from all walks of life. Treatment works and can help you deal with depression symptoms.

Maintaining Healthy Relationships

Relationship problems can make it difficult to enjoy life – for you and for those you care about. There are effective resources available to help Veterans improve and strengthen their relationships.

Additional Resources

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Vet Center

Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers across the nation in all 50 states and US territories that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, service members – including National Guard and Reserve components – and their families. Counselors and outreach staff, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief and transition after trauma. To learn more, visit the Vet Center website or find a nearest Vet Center. Teams are also available 24/7 by phone at 1-877-927-8387.

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Veterans Crisis Line logo

Veterans Crisis Line

Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Free support is confidential and available 24/7. Call 1-800-273-8255, chat here, or text 838255.

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Coaching into Care logo

Coaching into Care

Coaching Into Care is a national telephone service of the VA which aims to educate, support, and empower family members and friends who are seeking care or services for a Veteran.

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Self-Help Tools logo

Self-Help Tools

Veterans can access online courses that provide instruction and training in problem-solving, parenting, anger management, sleeping better, managing stress, and more.

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