Open-space forced swim model of depression for mice

Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2011 Jan;Chapter 9:Unit9.36. doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0936s54.


This protocol describes a simplified method for inducing a chronic depression-like state in mice that is based on the repeated open-space forced swim method originally developed for rats. The method consists of mice swimming daily in lukewarm water in rat tub cages, for 15 min/day for 4 days, and thereafter once per week. This procedure produces a progressive decrease in distance swum and a concomitant increase in immobility (floating) in ∼70% of the mice, both of which persist unaltered for weeks. The model has predictive, face, and construct validity and has a number of advantages over previous methods in that it utilizes very mild stress, is short in duration, and is easily standardized. Moreover, since it utilizes a greater swimming area than the traditional (Porsolt) method it can be used to study interactions of depressive behavior with behavioral flexibility and perseveration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Swimming / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Video Recording


  • Antidepressive Agents