Skip to main content

The effect of ketamine on anhedonia: improvements in dimensions of anticipatory, consummatory, and motivation-related reward deficits


Anhedonia is a common, persistent, and disabling condition. However, available therapeutics primarily focus on the reduction of depressive and negative symptoms rather than amelioration of deficits in positive affect. As such, extant drug treatments remain largely ineffective in treating symptoms of anhedonia. Ketamine is a rapid-acting and novel therapeutic treatment for treatment-resistant depression, which has also been demonstrated to attenuate symptoms of anhedonia. However, the literature on the anti-anhedonic effects of ketamine is limited—especially within independent dimensions of this symptom domain. Herein, this review examined the impact of ketamine treatment on anhedonia and its dimensions on anticipatory, consummatory, and motivation-related reward deficits. Overall, the findings have shown a trend towards symptom reduction and/or improvements in anhedonia and their respective subdomains, in both human and preclinical studies, as well as its potential to provide additional benefit in reducing suicidality and improving quality-of-life. Although further research is required in understanding the long-term efficacy and mechanism, ketamine may provide an effective and rapid-acting therapeutic in an otherwise unmet domain.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



All authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, and drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roger S. McIntyre.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

RSM has received research grant support from CIHR/GACD/National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC); speaker/consultation fees from Lundbeck, Janssen, Alkermes, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Purdue, Pfizer, Otsuka, Takeda, Neurocrine, Sunovion, Bausch Health, Novo Nordisk, Kris, Sanofi, Eisai, Intra-Cellular, NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, Abbvie, Atai Life Sciences. RSM is a CEO of Braxia Scientific Corp. JDR has received research grant support from the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Psychopharmacology, University of Toronto, University Health Network Centre for Mental Health, Joseph M. West Family Memorial Fund and Timeposters Fellowship, and industry funding for speaker/consultation/research fees from Janssen, Allergan, Lundbeck, Sunovion, and COMPASS. JDR is the medical director of a private clinic providing intravenous ketamine infusions and intranasal esketamine for depression. LMWL is a contractor to Braxia Scientific. MV has within the last 3 years been a consultant for Lundbeck, Janssen Cilag, and Sunovion. All other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Additional information

Publisher's note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Nogo, D., Jasrai, A.K., Kim, H. et al. The effect of ketamine on anhedonia: improvements in dimensions of anticipatory, consummatory, and motivation-related reward deficits. Psychopharmacology 239, 2011–2039 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Ketamine
  • Anhedonia
  • Depression
  • Suicidality
  • Quality of life
  • Treatment-resistant depression