Anhedonia: Its dynamic relations with craving, negative affect, and treatment during a quit smoking attempt

Jessica W. Cook, Stephanie T. Lanza, Wanghuan Chu, Timothy B. Baker, Megan E. Piper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Introduction: Research shows that abstinence from tobacco leads to a withdrawal-related decrement in responsivity to nondrug rewards (ie, anhedonia). However, it remains unclear how anhedonia relates to other key withdrawal symptoms and withdrawal-related constructs over time. We analyzed ecological momentary assessment data to examine whether a decrement in response to rewards during a 10-day period following quitting shows a pattern of associations with other variables (ie, treatment, tobacco dependence, negative affect, and craving) that is consistent with anhedonia being a tobacco withdrawal symptom. Methods: As part of a randomized controlled trial of smoking cessation therapies, 1122 adults (58% female) were assigned to: placebo (n = 131), bupropion (alone or with nicotine lozenge, n = 401) or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT; lozenge, patch, both; n = 590). Participants completed 4 ecological momentary assessments per day for 10 days postquit, resulting in 22 575 assessments. Results: Time-varying effect modeling showed that anhedonia was significantly greater among those high in dependence relative to lower dependent smokers out to day 9 postquit. The placebo group showed elevated anhedonia immediately postquit, which fell to levels similar to the treatment groups by day 7. NRT effectively reduced anhedonia and its time-varying association with craving early in the quit attempt. The positive association between negative affect and anhedonia was moderate and stable over time for both active treatment groups. Conclusions: These results provide additional support that anhedonia following quitting smoking is a manifestation of the tobacco withdrawal syndrome. Implications: This study supported the hypothesis that diminished responsivity to nondrug rewards (ie, anhedonia) is a symptom of the tobacco withdrawal syndrome. Results showed that anhedonia: (1) was significantly associated with dependence, especially during the early postquit period when withdrawal was at its peak intensity; (2) showed significant time-varying associations with other withdrawal symptoms, especially craving; and (3) was significantly suppressed by agonist administration as was its association with craving over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-709
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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