Depression, for the purpose of this paper, is defined as the lethargy and immobility a rat experiences when put into a tank full of water during a forced swim test (Wee, Wang, Woolverton, Pulvirenti, & Koob, 2007). It is measured by the inability of the rat to swim, climb or keep their heads above the water over a short span of time (Arunrut, Alhandre, Chen, Cha, & Russo-Neustadt, 2009). Typically, in a forced swim test, the rat will swim hard for approximately 10 minutes, then give up and float until the experimenters take them out. On the next trial, they are put back in the water, whereupon they give up much faster, usually after 2 minutes. This illustrates the “learned helplessness” model of depression. The forced swim test is a common behavioral test for assessing depression in rodents. Animals are placed in acrylic glass or plastic tubs of water. The water level in the tub is high enough to prevent the rat from touching the bottom of the cylinder with his paws or tail, and low enough to avoid escape through the top opening of the cylinder. If the rat is non-depressed, it will try to swim out of the container. Depressed rats will stop trying and float showing behavioral despair (Gupta & Masand, 2004).
The floating or immobility time is an accurate indication of the effects of anti-psychotic drugs given to the rat prior to the start of the test. Studies carried out in recent years have shown that second-generation anti-psychotics seem to be the new option for the treatment of depressive symptoms. It has been shown that amisulpride, clozapine, olanzapine, and quetiapine are significantly better in reducing depressive symptoms in schizophrenia. Anti-depressant...
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...97). Comparison of rats selectively bred for high and low ethanol intake in a forced-swim-test model of depression: Effects of desipramine . Physiology & Behavior, 62, (4), 729-733.
Gupta, S., Masand, P. (2004). Aripiprazole: review of its pharmacology and therapeutic use in
Psychiatric disorders. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 16, 155-166.
Kitamura, Y., Yagi, T., Kitagawa, K., Shinomiya, K., Kawasaki, H., Asanuma, M., & Gomita, Y. (2010). Effects of bupropion on the forced swim test and release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens in ACTH-treated rats. Naunyn-Schmied Arch Pharmacol, 382, 151-158.
Wesolowska A., Partyka, A., Jastrzebska-Wiesek, M., Kolarz, A., Mierzejewski, P., Bienkowski, P., & Kolaczkowski, M. (2011). Tail suspension test does not detect antidepressant-like properties of atypical antipsychotics. Behavioural Pharmalogical, 22, 7-13.
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