NEW YORK (CBS Local) – Have you ever seen a sad-looking fish? According to researchers, fish depression is a very real thing, and the condition is being used to find a treatment for humans suffering from the disorder.
“The neurochemistry is so similar that it’s scary,” Troy University’s Julian Pittman told the New York Times. The Biological and Environmental Science professor is working with other scientists to test new depression treatments, with tiny zebrafish leading the way. Dr. Pittman added that fish are the perfect choice to experiment with because their symptoms of depression are much more obvious than humans.
According to the “novel tank test,” the level of depression a fish was experiencing could be measured by how much time they were spending near the bottom of their tank.
“Depressed people are withdrawn. The same is true of fish,” behavioral biologist Culum Brown added. The depression in tiny aquatic pets reportedly stems from lack of stimulation, meaning that naturally curious fish become easily bored in more barren environments.
The new information about fish may, at some point, lead to new breakthroughs for the growing number of diagnosed cases of depression in humans. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, over 16 million adults in the U.S. suffered a major depressive episode in 2015.