12 Oct. 2023

Pro-dopaminergic pharmacological interventions for anhedonia in depression: protocol for a living systematic

Depression is a complex mental health condition affecting millions worldwide. One of its most debilitating symptoms is anhedonia, characterized by a lack of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. Researchers are actively exploring various interventions to alleviate anhedonia, and among them, pro-dopaminergic drugs show promise. In this blog, we delve into the protocol for a living systematic review on this subject.


Understanding Anhedonia:

Anhedonia is a core symptom of depression and is challenging to treat. It can persist even when other depression symptoms improve. This has led researchers to investigate the role of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in managing anhedonia.

Pro-dopaminergic Pharmacological Interventions:

The term “pro-dopaminergic” refers to interventions that aim to boost dopamine levels in the brain. Common pro-dopaminergic drugs include stimulants like amphetamines and methylphenidate, as well as some atypical antipsychotics. These drugs target dopamine receptors in the brain and may potentially address anhedonia.

The Need for a Living Systematic Review:

Traditionally, systematic reviews are conducted at a single point in time, which might not capture the most current evidence. However, with the evolving landscape of medical research, living systematic reviews have emerged. They are continuously updated to incorporate new data, providing a real-time view of the subject.

The Living Systematic Review Protocol:

  1. Research Question: The protocol begins with formulating a specific research question: “Do pro-dopaminergic pharmacological interventions effectively reduce anhedonia in patients with depression?”
  2. Inclusion Criteria: This defines the types of studies, participants, interventions, comparators, and outcomes that will be considered.
  3. Search Strategy: A rigorous search strategy is developed to identify relevant studies from various databases, ensuring that no recent studies are missed.
  4. Data Extraction: Information from eligible studies is systematically extracted, including patient demographics, intervention details, and outcome measures.
  5. Risk of Bias Assessment: The quality of each study is evaluated, and the risk of bias is determined.
  6. Analysis Plan: Statistical methods are outlined for analyzing the data, which will provide insights into the effectiveness of pro-dopaminergic interventions in addressing anhedonia.
  7. Publication and Reporting: The living systematic review will be continually updated as new research emerges. Findings will be published in scientific journals and shared with the medical community.

The Significance:

This living systematic review protocol aims to provide clinicians and researchers with up-to-date evidence on the effectiveness of pro-dopaminergic pharmacological interventions for anhedonia in depression. By continuously integrating the latest research, it can guide the development of more effective treatments and improve the lives of individuals suffering from depression.


The ongoing systematic review on pro-dopaminergic pharmacological interventions for anhedonia in depression reflects the dynamic nature of medical research. In an ever-evolving field, this approach ensures that patients and healthcare providers have access to the most current and relevant information to combat one of the most challenging aspects of depression.