Modeling the anxiety–depression continuum hypothesis in domestic fowl chicks

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Abstract

Anxiety and depression are currently classified as separate clinical syndromes despite considerable similarities in their symptoms, pathophysiological substrates and response to treatment interventions. An alternative hypothesis views anxiety and depression along a temporal continuum, a construct that the current research attempts to model in a preclinical setting. In experiment 1, socially raised domestic fowl chicks separated from conspecifics demonstrated a pattern of distress vocalizations that sequentially models anxiety-like and depressive-like states. In addition, administration of the benzodiazepine anxiolytic chlordiazepoxide and the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine provided pharmacological validation for the model in that they were capable of dissociating the anxiety-like and depressive-like states. In experiment 2, corticosterone levels were quantified across the isolation test session to provide convergent validity to the model. These findings fit well with the human clinical literature on the anxiety–depression continuum perspective, and suggest the consideration of a nosology that emphasizes the inter-relatedness of these clinical states rather than their boundaries.

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