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Do Animals Get Depressed?

Animals  (tags: animal depression, study, Neuroscience )

- 2049 days ago -
Learning more about depression in animals could one day benefit humans, say scientists who believe that mammals share the same basic wiring in their brain for emotions as humans do. (Although not every scientist agrees with that premise.)

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. (0)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 12:48 pm
I can only contribute to the animals we get at my shelter. For those cats and dogs who come to us through an owner's death, the animals are always depressed. Some snap out of it, depending on the age of the animal, some never fully do. It is so heart breaking.

Bill K (4)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 12:56 pm
they certainly do around humans, especially in places like zoos, circuses, testing labs, farms, slaughterhouses.....

Kit B (276)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 1:12 pm

If one follows the link about salt, then it would seem that nature knows how of offer a release from depression, have some salt in your diet.

Michael M (60)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 1:39 pm
Depression serves an evolutionary purpose. Please study it.

Depressino from incarceration, on the other hand, serves no purpose. Should your own culture lead you to persistent depression, action to change such a culture is in order.

Jae A (316)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 1:48 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Allan ...
Great tip Kit,thanks for pointing that out.

I know that our cats when left unexpectantly due to travel plans problems while already in mid stream of the the trip so ta say...we had to leave them in the care of strangers..who in this case fortunately , owned a shop that specialized in Cat products,, retail,, and who were very much into rescuing cats...feeding strays etc. above their interest in their business. Anyway, the female refused to eat ..and cried a lot and lost weight in just a few days that it took us to return for them. The male as they stated it ..'howled and cried ' almost endlessly. When the male died the female..the males mother, went into what we could only call a deep depression...and it wasn't until we moved from that home to another a couple of months later that she began to come out of it. Our guess is that his 'scent' was far less at our next home.
All too sad in both situations for us to see either and or both so depressed each time. It was real, to us and no doubt to them. I know others must have similar stories and I hope they will share them with us on this thread. Doing so might not be a 'scientific ' study but one of powerful testimonials as to what pet owners themselves have to say on the subject,IMO.

Michael M (60)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 1:49 pm
Anthropomorphism was a term once bandied about, intending to artificially divide any experience of other animals for the human animal. It has consistently and increasingly been shown to be an artificial and illusory divide. Only scientists who do not bother to extend their study into other disciplines still fall for their own unexamined biases.

Cognition by individuals of other species is well-documented. Since humans are a social animal, their most easily-recognized sharing of traits, emotions, cognitions, occur in other social species.

There is not innate behavior of humans which is not reflected by another species. On the other hand, we have one of the most limited perceptions of chemical/molecular stimuli. This makes us unable to consciously sense some of our own methods of detection and cognition.

Could an animal thus limited, successfully evaluate others, whose senses are finer?

Answer: Not well, and sometimes not at all.

Jae A (316)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 1:57 pm
We also in the last year or so became foster care parents :-) to two 12 year old K-9 loveables. Both of which were scared and appeared depressed about their change in took a few weeks before they both showed signs of no longer being 'depressed' , which being together did help I imagine. Our cats that I mentioned above were kept in the shop together but not within the same pen...and not within sight of each other. That was a mistake we thought but it was easier for them to care for them seperated apprently, for some reason . All we knew was we had them back and they were obviously very happy about that also....and they both quickly gained back their energy and the twinkle in their eyes that were missing the day we returned for them..

Vicky P (476)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 2:05 pm
of course they do :/ We can see in our pets that they feel sad, happy, angry, etc

Jae A (316)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 3:03 pm
I am not sure if the article is saying that animals might feel sad but not depression as we humans think of it or that they probably do in much the same way. Depression can last a short while or for a very long period so perhaps the long term observation of what appear to be 'depresed' will be the only way to know is they are or not ?

As with our cats in my story above, sure they were 'sad' and due to their not eating and drinking water to us those were signs of depression over that of stressed/sadness alone.

It all doesn't appear to be as clear as knee jerk reactions to the topic probably are :-) . Interesting points Michael M..My thanks for adding those to the thread.

Jae A (316)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 3:35 pm
After reading the above comments thus far and with a little more thought on to what I first thought to be an easy answer to the question I have my own question at this time :

Is sad more of a short term single emotion where as 'depression ' effects all or our 'senses' as well as 'emotions to extremes to how it effects both anmals and people and for longer periods than sad ..outward sadness might last ?

Nicole W (646)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 4:38 pm
animals experience a wide-range of emotions, as do humans, but many humans cannot appreciate them

Yulan Lawson (156)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 5:49 pm

Past Member (0)
Sunday October 14, 2012, 7:51 pm
Yes they do,ty

Danuta W (1249)
Monday October 15, 2012, 2:35 am

Past Member (0)
Monday October 15, 2012, 11:19 am
I can see most humans don't understand the difference between having a sadness and depression.

Gillian M (218)
Monday October 15, 2012, 11:55 am
“I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland. They lived next to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a [heart] donor. When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly. We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days. The incident made a deep impression on me. I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures.” —Christiaan Barnard

Gillian M (218)
Monday October 15, 2012, 12:06 pm
Of course animals have feelings and emotions, have you never seen a mother animal with her young? The cat that attacks a human in an effort to protect them? The sadness when an owner goes away and the joy on their return?

If an animal can feel these emotions then why not depression? They are similar to us physically and many diseases are similar.

One only needs to look at a tiger in a small barren cage without any stimulation with lights on and lorries roaring to see a depressed animal. The look of disbelief when put into a rescue cage with a pond, plants to sit underneath or hide in and peace.

Additionally, there are some people who run mental asylum for parrots or other members of that family, who have been bored so much that they have become self destructive and pick their feathers off and are unable to interact.

Kit, I'm sure that a shortage of salt may affect some people but there are many other forms and they do need both medical and psychiatric intervention. It is a terrible mental illness and I see many sufferers amongst DV victims as well as homeless people. Mental illness is the Cinderella of the health care and has no fairy godmother to wave a magic wand for either money or any other help. People regard it as something to avoid and not talk about but it affects so many families!

Instead of using and abusing animals perhaps they should be looking to help people on the street or the hospitals to get a greater understanding of depression and other mental health issues!


Gloria picchetti (304)
Monday October 15, 2012, 12:06 pm
I can't stand it when people don't think animals have no emotions.

Past Member (0)
Monday October 15, 2012, 12:15 pm
Noted. Yes animals do get depressed. They experience a wide range of emotions that humans give them little to no respect for. Thanks so much, Jae.

Dianne D (490)
Monday October 15, 2012, 1:09 pm
When I loose one of my pets, the others go into depression. Not as much as I do, but they are still depressed.

Michael Carney (217)
Monday October 15, 2012, 1:18 pm
I'm pretty sure they do, especially because they have to deal with human Beings, who do everything in their power to destroy and kill every living thing on this Planet...I don't mean every person, I know there are people out there who work above and beyond the call of duty to protect Animals from abuse from Human Beings...I'm talking about the abusers, of the World, not everyone...Hell dealing with Humans every day makes me depressed

Larry D Grazier (1362)
Monday October 15, 2012, 1:33 pm
When you leave home to go some place and you don't take your house dog, they become depressed and when you return they are always so happy to see you again, If you leave your home in a car and your outside dogs see's you leaving he will run as fast as he can to catch up you. Why you ask? Because a Dog has a never ending love for you. A dog can be a persons best friend anywhere, anyplace, anytime. They love you more than you could ever know. QUESTION? Why can't the people in China see a dog for what it really is, not food but a living friend. SAVE A DOG AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT LIFE AGAIN!. Larry Grazier

michelle t (41)
Monday October 15, 2012, 1:34 pm
Animals most certainly do get depressed.

Vicky P (476)
Monday October 15, 2012, 2:41 pm
Sorry for not explaining what I meant, I do believe they get depressed/sad as in the mental condition, when an animal is moping around not really doing much else, not eating, etc, that would be an animal depressed

Elaine Al Meqdad (283)
Monday October 15, 2012, 3:04 pm
You bet they do! Look what the human race has dine to them and they know that God created them for us to love and yet look how we have treated them!

pam w (139)
Monday October 15, 2012, 3:05 pm
There's no question that animals can be sad when missing someone or not having enrichment in their surroundings. That's why accredited zoos spend SO MUCH time and effort to provide enrichment for animals.

BUT--we need to be careful not to anthropomorphize.....dogs, for example, live IN THE MOMENT. We often try to ascribe human emotions to them when there is NO proof whatsoever that those emotions exist.

Barbara W (342)
Monday October 15, 2012, 4:09 pm
In my experience with the loving critters I have had and continue to have they can get depressed..We had a pit-bull, Rusty for 11 years. After Rusty passed his friend, Tux, our cat, who has also since passed, became very sad. Rusty was Tux's friend. He loved Rusty..They were very close.. It took Tux a while to get over missing Rusty..

Another of our buddies, Jake and Jesse were extremely close so when Jesse passed Jake would always look for her.. We have a lover, called Bear, who we found as a pup wondering the street. Bear became close to a border collie, Coco, that we had for several years.. After Coco passed Bear would look for Coco everywhere.

All critters love and enjoy those around them. I had a horse I named Pudgy.. She was a Welsh Pony. Whenever I went on the road and come back home Pudgy would shun me for days to let me know she missed me..I would have to be patient with her and stay with her till she forgave me..
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you for a thoughtful post Jae..
This post reminds me of Hachiko: The World’s Most Loyal Dog

"Dogs are known for being loyal companions -- but we've never met any as faithful as Hachiko, an Akita from Japan who spent 10 years waiting for his master."

Nelson B (0)
Monday October 15, 2012, 4:14 pm
Animals show various emotions.

Alice C (1797)
Monday October 15, 2012, 4:28 pm
Our male goat was very sad after our female goat passed away. He sulked and just laid around because he had no one to play with. Afterwards, I got a female lamb to keep him company. He was happy again.

Angeles M (298)
Monday October 15, 2012, 5:30 pm
Animals have feelings and sometimes get depresed, I'm sure of it!

Anne K (139)
Monday October 15, 2012, 5:53 pm
Having worked in cat shelters for 13 years, I know cats get depressed. Cats relinquished to shelters by their human caregivers often refuse to eat, lying listlessly and actually starving themselves into liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) and needing to be force-fed. I also witnessed a cat who became depressed when his companion at the shelter died. The two of them lived in the same room of about 20 cats at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. The cat, who had previously been very mild-mannered and quiet, cried pitifully for weeks and began attacking other cats in the room.

Kara C (15)
Monday October 15, 2012, 6:28 pm
They needed lab animals to test this? Just walk into an animal shelter where many animals become depressed after abandonment. The friendliest and sweetest dogs becomes disinterested in cuddles and walks. You can even see labradors too sad to eat.

. (7)
Monday October 15, 2012, 10:22 pm
How stupid, of course they get depressed, they need lab animals to study this?

Susanne R (235)
Monday October 15, 2012, 11:30 pm
How can these research scientists tell whether an animal is depressed due to complicated biochemical imbalances or due to a changes in environment --such as being removed from their natural habitats to be placed in zoos or in cages in research facilities? Personally, I would think that they would have to determine the cause of an animal's documented symptoms of depression before they can even begin to make any credible assessments. There's a big difference between an animal who displays signs of depression who shows signs of improvement when returned to a familiar environment than an animal whose depression doesn't lift when returned to a familiar environment. Let's face it. Unless they're beloved pets, animals have few reasons to be happy.

irene davis (74)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 12:36 am
I thought it goes without asking-they do get depressed.

Shadow Manypaths (16)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 2:22 am
all living things are subject to both depression and euphoria, regardless of species or level of biological sophisitcation. this is not anthropomorphism...we inherited the ability from THEM, not the other way around.

the main difference is that in (wild) animals, these tendencies are a survival mechanism - in humans, who have evolved into a highly unnatural existence by the standards of their species, it has become an out-of-control and destructive aspect, aggravated by the use to chemicals both to "treat" and induce what began as a natural response to changing circumstance.

wendy webber (28)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 2:29 am
To me, it seems when anything is deprived of what it needs to flourish, grow and continue on, than it suffers.We know that clinical depression,in its many forms,is a cluster of symptoms experienced over time.Even with people (having worked in the mental health field for over 25 yrs) it is difficult to ascertain the specific impact of life situations on brain chemistry or the other way around.There are so many factors that interact with each other and how each living creation adapts is dependent upon a multitude of external/internal factors. Common sense takes me back to the first sentence of this note. All I know is when my pets experience a change in their daily routine, they react. I assess what they are feeling by their behavior.Unfortunately, they cannot actually "tell me" what/how they are feeling (many folks are ill equipped to do the same) but I know that they feel something. I see it, as my responsibility, to help them to restore their balance and to have what they need to thrive not just survive.Whether it is sadness or actual clinical depression is irrelevant to me. One thing I do know is, that a larger more complex brain, does not make us superior to anything or give us a corner on the market for doing the next right thing toward each other.

Ruth C (87)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 6:45 am
Animals have more love and compassion then humans do!

Louise G (1)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 7:22 am
How sad that some people are so desensitized to animal cruelty and suffering that they believe living animals don't have emotions! Noted.

. (0)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 8:13 am
I have an experience with cats, at least cats suffer of depression, their just a disease or a constrictive action to see only the light in their eyes change.
Years ago died the first of two great friends, the cat was completely changed their habits and the way he communicate with me and my wife he tryed to find the old friend for months, persistently turning around inside the house and meowing constantly and he no longer wanted to play
Ten years ago when I moved house to one of my cats did not like, for several weeks has completely lost her appetite and has not socialized with their own kind, it took several visits to the vet and diagnosis was "depression"
ty Jae and Diiannne for the fw

. (0)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 8:33 am
Just put yourself in their situation..put behind bars..abused by man and then exterminated. they see and hear the cries of their fellow animals., these origination's do not exactly hide their hideous crimes of cruelty.Ann.

Melania P (122)
Tuesday October 16, 2012, 3:06 pm
Of course they do! Thanks for posting

SANDRA R (144)
Wednesday October 17, 2012, 6:39 am
Yes they do. Thank you Jae.

M B (62)
Wednesday October 17, 2012, 12:28 pm
Of course they do! Thanks for posting.

Lin Penrose (92)
Wednesday October 17, 2012, 1:49 pm
Noted, Thanks Jae. Last I knew, humans are also classified as "animals" zoology 101. Humans seem to have a need to compartmentalize other living beings so they can inflict all types of experiments, in the interests of bettering Humans survival, while reducing guilt for what we know at some levels, is torture. I believe that the 'other living beings-animals, plants, etc.' who could willingly share this planet with homo sapiens, have just as many rights and awareness/emotions/sensitivities of life, as we human animals think, or have been told by some very tricky people, we do. Some species take many different forms from our human base-lines and I'm so very glad.

We homo sapiens have become an egotistical species and extremely destructive because of our egos and our acceptance of the lies that yell, whisper, beat into us, and appeal: " We are Entitled" to do anything in the name of humans. Human excrement, I say.

Michael M (60)
Friday October 19, 2012, 11:11 am
Jae, if you're still onthis thread, notice Shadow Manypath's comment, and also realize that many species, even if not highly social, still cry out as they perhaps often did when pups,kits, etc.

Sociality is widespread and useful.

The fact that different species have shown response (outside to useful predatory response - and that particular alone, is sufficient and necessary reason for depression-related symptoms and behaviors!) to such social cries, says something strong about cognition in mammals. Observations of interspecies behaviors has for some time made clear that the concept of anthropmorphism is faulty, and inaccurate, to say the least.
You who interact with animals know this well, and were important in the eclipse of that concept.

There are still "behaviorists"; however, their findings must now be incorporated with other disciplines in psychology and ethology, and other inquiry.

Lin, egotism is natural for any individual of any species. Let it not be waved over as a vague characteristic with more false myth than its simple reality. With "entitlement", though, you are spot-on:
To make coalition over entitlement has been a grave and common error. Before mobile technologies we may have been kinder, or at least, ineffectual (but notice how, with walking, running, and the resultant time for reflection, we cool off, and become more able to take other points of view!)

See ya later, human people! Your every thought is important, to me, and to those other animals you encounter communicating!

Michael M (60)
Friday October 19, 2012, 11:15 am
Oh. To Alan who started the commentary:

If a thing is heartbreaking, it is worth your attention, and so you have given immensely in response to an important stimulus! That one may overcome depression in self AND other.

You have completely used those moments, and what is more glorious about life than the moments you have completely lived? (Alan, strike "can only" from your first line)

Muriel Servaege (53)
Monday October 22, 2012, 1:24 pm
They do get depressed. Whenever man can, he puts them in an environment that will depress them: cages, slaughterhouses, circuses, zoos, ... But their depression is not taken care of.

Yvonne F (181)
Tuesday October 23, 2012, 12:49 am
I could have told them this!!! Amazing that some scientist wont believe in it. What kind of scienctists are they?
Thanks for sharing this

Julia R (296)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 2:06 am
I think that animals, especially mammals as most scientists believe share the same basic wiring in their brains for emotions as humans do. I see my dogs show many of the same emotions that I do- empathy when a family member or another household pet is sick, concern if anyone may be in danger and a need to protect them, a need and reciprocation for affection and an ability to form long and lasting friendship bonds with both people and other animals! Many mammals also show evidence, in varying degrees, of cognition, the ability to solve problems, and retaining information in the form of memories. Thanks for sharing this!

Melissa Verduzco (27)
Thursday April 11, 2013, 6:51 pm
Humans are not the only beings that can feel depressed. When are we going to understand that the human being is not alone in the universe...?
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