Animals show depression-like behavior

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sad pooch
Even pooches can express sorrow when separated from friends.

If you’ve ever looked into a dog’s eyes when you’re about to leave for a few hours, it’s hard not to see sorrow pouring forth from that adorable loving gaze. Well, while scientists prefer to use the phrase “depression-like behavior”, they do acknowledge that critters seem to get melancholy when separated from their buddies – both the human and beastly variety.

It’s tricky figuring out what an animal is thinking, because they don’t communicate what they’re feeling in a way that humans can easily understand. While fear and hunger are pretty easy to identify, that’s more instinct than feeling, triggered by pure physical survival needs. So, what about their deeper psychology?

According to an experiment that separated rodents from their social group, then forced them to live with larger animals that bullied them, the poor creatures stopped exercising and eating. Not moving around and avoiding food is very similar to what humans do when they’re depressed, and the little critters in the experiment even stopped caring about tempting junk food treats. Bigger warm-blooded mammals like cats, dogs, and whales have also been shown to develop strong bonds with friends, avoiding food and exercise when separated from “loved” ones.

Featured image courtesy of “Just Me…” on Flickr. Image of sad dog courtesy of Brent Moore on Flickr.