Seasonal Depression, Anxiety Affects Hamsters, Study Finds
A new study suggests that hamsters may suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression during the dark days of winter, just as some humans do. Using a variety of tests, researchers found more symptoms of depression and anxiety in adult hamsters that were housed for weeks in conditions with limited daylight, as they would find in winter, when compared to hamsters who had days with longer daylight.
(Is there an epidemic of depressed hamsters? And what about Guinea pigs? Or mice? Does anyone care about the plight of all these other rodents with a case of the mid-winter blues? Why are we discriminating? It's an outrage I tell you!)
Nelson conducted the study with Leah Pyter, a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State . They presented their results Nov. 15 in Washington , D.C. at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. The study involved 53 female and 48 male Siberian hamsters.
(An auditorium FULL of white coats considering the problem of depressed furballs from the Russian tundra.....how DID they contain the excitement? Are these people so lacking in a social life they have to go to conferences on rodent mental health issues?)
Tests for anxiety included one in which hamsters are placed in a large box and viewed for 60 minutes to see how much time they spend in the middle versus near the walls. Anxious hamsters will spend more time along the walls, where they feel more protected, while less anxious animals will explore the entire box, including the open middle area.
(Researchers found the anxious and depressed hamsters were scrawling grafitti on the walls......'good-bye cruel box.')
Among the tests for depression was one in which they measured how much of a sugar drink hamsters drank over the course of several days. Hamsters generally like this drink, but hamsters with depressive-like symptoms will not drink as much.
(The depressed Siberian hamsters went straight for the vodka instead.)
In general, the results showed that female hamsters showed more evidence of depression than males, which corresponds to research in humans which shows more depression among women than men.
(Is it any wonder with Mr. Hamster sucking down the vodka, doing nothing more productive than scribbling on the walls, and disappearing late into the evening with that hot blonde PhD student? NO WONDER the female hamster is depressed as she watches her youth wasted on this loser and her children poisoned by the cigarettes and beauty aids being tested. Poor girl, of course she is depressed.)
The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
(Why am I not surprised?)
Related News Stories
Researchers Find Genes Connected To Seasonal Reproductive Clock In Hamsters (December 3, 2002) -- Researchers at Ohio State University have identified three genes that are involved in the seasonal clock that determines when hamsters reproduce.
Symptoms Of Illness Less Severe In Hamsters During Winter, Study Finds (February 26, 2002) -- During the short days of winter, Siberian hamsters suffer less severe symptoms to infections than they do during the long days of summer, new research shows.
Memory, Forgetfulness Help Hamsters Time Breeding (May 8, 2000) -- A study shows that hamsters time their breeding by "remembering" whether days were longer or shorter in the recent past. The discovery provides a new experimental model for researchers.
(Really? What more can I add here? It's all a bit mind-boggling.)