The forced swim test is based on the progressive immobility a rodent displays when immersed in a beaker filled with water from where no escape is possible. While the test was originally designed to identify the antidepressant potential of drugs, over the past decade a rapidly growing number of publications (more than 2000) portray this immobility response anthropomorphically as a measure for depression and despair. This is incorrect. The response to the forced swim stressor should be considered for what it shows: a switch from active to passive behavior in the face of an acute stressor, aligned to cognitive functions underlying behavioral adaptation and survival.
Keywords: Depression; Forced swim test; Glucocorticoids; Mouse; Rat; Stress.
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