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The depression of mice and men


Mice have distinct personalities. Eneritz Gomez a psychologist at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has confirmed this. She has documented the tough type and delicate disposition. She has found the active and the passive. Those mice in the second groups – passive and delicate – are more vulnerable and reflect the characteristics of people with depression.

Gomez recently defended her thesis entitled “Individual differences in chronically defeated mice: behavioral, neuroendocrine, immune and neurotrophic changes as indicators of vulnerability to effects of stress.” Gomez used defeat-induced chronic social stress as the baseline of her study. “Mice are very territorial. Five males and one female tend to live together. Only one male mates with the female, the same one that gains control of all the resources right from the start,” she explained. The males fight; the same one always wins and he takes everything including the female. The remaining mice suffer defeat-induced chronic social stress, but in varying degrees. Some become ill with their ineffectiveness, others do not take it so hard. Gomez sought to find out why.

“Stress is related to psychological disorder, but not all the subjects develop this disorder. This happens because they have different ways of acting when faced with stress,” said Gomez. She discovered passive and active strategies on the part of the defeated mice. When encountering the dominant male, the passive strategy is to not move while the active strategy is to run away. The passive ones do not resist the stress while the active ones fight it. These strategies also inform the way the mice interact with the dominant male. The active ones are interested and pursue interaction with the dominant. The passive mice stay quiet and reserved, rarely looking at the dominant.

In Gomez’s opinion, the passive mice are the more vulnerable, falling ill as a result of their acceptance of stress.

Source: ScienceDaily, UPV/EHU

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