Social defeat as an animal model for depression

ILAR J. 2014;55(2):221-32. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ilu002.


Depression is one of the most disabling medical conditions in the world today, yet its etiologies remain unclear and current treatments are not wholly effective. Animal models are a powerful tool to investigate possible causes and treatments for human diseases. We describe an animal model of social defeat as a possible model for human depression. We discuss the paradigm, behavioral correlates to depression, and potential underlying neurobiological mechanisms with an eye toward possible future therapies.

Keywords: animal models; depression; social defeat; stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*