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Science

Depressed Hamsters Help Researchers 172

Posted by Zonk
from the sad-little-squeakers dept.
Ant wrote to mention an ABC News article indicating that hampsters feel the same effects during the winter months as humans do. Known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), winter-related depression affects up to 20 percent of Americans. From the article: "For example, if the animals spend more time hovering near the walls of their containers, rather than at the center, it's believed they feel more anxious. If they decline to slurp up tempting offers of sugar water, scientists take it as a sign of depression. Another test involves placing the animals in water and seeing if they swim or simply give up and float. Hamsters don't sink apparently, but float in water. 'The sooner they give up in the water, the more depressed they are,' Pyter said. 'If you give them an antidepressant they don't give up as quickly.'"
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Depressed Hamsters Help Researchers

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  • Interesting (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hope Thelps (322083) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:46AM (#14227673)
    If they decline to slurp up tempting offers of sugar water, scientists take it as a sign of depression.

    The depression diet plan? Someone could make a fortune out of the book rights.
  • by Yst (936212) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:46AM (#14227674)

    Hamsters don't sink apparently, but float in water.

    These are some exciting results!

    You learn something new every day. With results like these, how far away can self-replicating autonomous nanobots be?

  • by Chaffar (670874) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:47AM (#14227678)
    Tips For Beating Seasonal Depression
    Exercise
    Rosenthal suggests that going for a walk or jog, or doing some other form of exercise can also help beat the blues. Exercising is even more effective against SAD if done outside during bright daytime hours.
    Eat well
    It may be the time of year that you crave comfort foods that are full of starches and sugar, but Rosenthal says these foods can exacerbate seasonal affective disorder.
    Get away
    If all else fails and if you have the time and money, take a vacation to a sunny place.

    Exercise? Eat well? Get away? This article has no purpose to insult us geeks. But I did leave the best for last:

    Go outside
    Spend as much time outside as possible and when inside, try to maximize your exposure to natural sunlight.
  • Hampster (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jebediah21 (145272) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:50AM (#14227687) Homepage Journal
    WTF is a hampster?
  • by anarchyboy (720565) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:57AM (#14227704)
    Thats all well and good but did anyone stop to ask the hamster's how _they_ felt about it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:58AM (#14227708)
    Well, they still have
    Light therapy Some studies have shown that flicking on extra bright fluorescent light boxes at dawn or as soon as you wake can help diminish the effects of seasonal affective disorder.

    Now that is a nice technical solution. Especially with the "as soon as you wake" part, which can be 3pm after a hard night's gaming.

    And Go Away is advice that girls have been giving geeks since, well, as long as there have been geeks.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:00AM (#14227712) Homepage Journal
    I like the way they put the minor disclaimer in ther "apparantly".
    My bet is they actually checked out the principle.

    On a slightly similar subject (ahem!) my kids have a hamster, we decided to call him "flump".
    Lots of people ask us why, we don't usually say but "apparantly" thats the noise a hamster makes after you free them from a toilet roll tube with air pressure.
  • Re:Hampster (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:02AM (#14227719)
    "WTF is a hampster?"

    Obviously, Hampster is the RIAA's answer to Napster.

    from Hamper:
    Etymology: Middle English
    1 a : to restrict the movement of by bonds or obstacles : IMPEDE b : to interfere with the operation of : DISRUPT
    2 a : CURB, RESTRAIN b : to interfere with : ENCUMBER
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:03AM (#14227720)
    "WTF is a hampster?"

    You throw a dirty hamster into one of those.
  • by mrRay720 (874710) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:04AM (#14227722)
    "Another test involves placing the animals in water and seeing if they swim or simply give up and float. Hamsters don't sink apparently, but float in water."

    That's not the test to see if a hamster is depressed, it's the test to see if the hamster is a witch.
  • Re:Hampster (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:06AM (#14227725)
    Part hamster, part hamper, the hampster displaces the capybara as the largest known rodent. The hampster thrives on dirty clothes, which it stores in its oversized cheek pouches.
  • by Rhinobird (151521) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:13AM (#14227736) Homepage

    Let's see... cage up some hamsters, deprive them of natural light, natural surroundings, and buddies, give them an artificial sucrose-laden diet, see how they get depressed, give them drugs to make them happy?

    And then suggest that these results could apply to people?

    Yeah really. I mean their hamsters, right? Completely different biology involved. Now I have to get back to my windowless cubicle and finish that soda that's getting warm on my desk. Good thing there's nobody around on the weekends. I feel so alone...

  • Re:Dubious (Score:2, Funny)

    by Albert Sandberg (315235) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:23AM (#14227759) Homepage
    People today aren't any happier. Gayer, maybe

    Talk about going to the place where the light never shine
  • by Sly Mongoose (15286) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:36AM (#14227775) Homepage
    A depressed hamster is suffering from a condition known as SAD? Shoot him full of speed and throw him in the river and he makes like a furry outboard engine?

    I nominate thhe discoverers of these critical scientific facts for an award.....
  • by sunwolf (853208) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:40AM (#14227783)
    But the question is, does it weigh as much as a duck?
  • by surprise_audit (575743) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:02AM (#14227819)
    How do you know that a hamster hovering near the walls is feeling anxiety?

    Well, that's obvious - if the hamster's feet aren't touching the floor it will drift helplessly around its cage, bouncing off the walls and ceiling, propelled by any random passing breeze. That would make any sentient being anxious...

  • by adolfojp (730818) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:26AM (#14227866)
    "Hamster psychiatry is a pseudoscience," Tom Criuse told host Matt Lauer, later saying: "You don't know the history of rodent psychiatry. I do."

    Sorry, couldn't help it. I haven't taken my vitamins today. :-P

    Adolfo
  • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

    by vasko (168613) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:52AM (#14227938)
    I, for one, welcome our new depressed overlords.
  • Re:Hampster (Score:5, Funny)

    by sacrilicious (316896) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:52AM (#14227939) Homepage
    WTF is a hampster?

    It's a p2p network for exchanging hams. Smoked, honey-roasted, bone-in/out, the selection is incredible. Sometimes it takes a long time to download, and the quality can be variable, but hey it's free.

  • by jeorgen (84395) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:55AM (#14227954)
    Americans (meaning USians) don't even live that far north (with the exception of Alaskians).

    Up here at the 59th parallel (Stockholm) we're used to darkness!

    Now I got depressed.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @10:06AM (#14227984)
    Ah yes, but many of those are so-called "sleeper" hamsters, genetically modified to live for decades (many have been around since the beginning of the Cold War.) Upon a posthypnotic command from their long forgotten Soviet masters, they are designed to turn into organic micronukes and volatilize a few city blocks in a sudden glare of actinic light. Fortunately, after the fall of the Empire no-one seems to know what that command is, but still ... you should be careful what you say to them.

    You, ah ... you don't live anywhere near Chicago, do you? Heh heh.
  • by saskboy (600063) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @10:32AM (#14228063) Homepage Journal
    There's plenty of P in hampster cages.
    Why do you think the P is in there?

    And I learned in school that "learnt" isn't a word.
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @11:12AM (#14228224)
    From the article: happy hamsters apparently spend more time hovering near the walls of their cages than near the center.

    Whether or not this is true, I know I'd pay good money for an mpg of that. (how much Xanax does it require to get a hamster to hover?)

  • Re:Hampster (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @11:50AM (#14228397) Homepage
    I only caught the typo once in the blurb

    Actually, it's not a typo. A typo (short for typographical error) is an error caused by hitting the wrong keys while using the keyboard. "Hampster" is a spelling error. The difference is that the former is not a sign of ignorance.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @11:52AM (#14228410) Homepage
    You put me in a bucket of water. Oh, that's nice. You could have at least made it warm water, but no. Oh, what's the point? I suppose I'll just lay here and drown. Hope that will make you feel good, drowning a poor hamster. Even if you pull me out of the bucket all I have to look forward to is running in a stupid wheel. I run and run and run but never get anywhere. And all I ever get to eat are pellets and water. Boy, there's a five star menu. It's all so pointless....
  • by TCQuad (537187) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @01:35PM (#14228867)
    The only problem with all these studies with species that can't communicate is that there's more than one explanation for observed behaviour.

    In other news, hamsters can only tolerate 12 hours of constant fluorescent light before being driven insane by it. One hamster, who had been exposed to 16 hours per day for 60 days, was quoted as saying "I knew once I stopped struggling in that water, they'd put me in the box, man! And you don't ever want to go back to that box!"

    Unidentified sources within the 16-hour per day hamster camp have stated that it's gotten so bad, even the reflection of the light from the plexiglass walls is antagonizing. It's driven the hamsters from their normal comfort zone into the wide-open middle of the box, where predators, if they existed, would be able to attack and where the only hope of escape is to run faster than the hamster next to you; as such, the hamsters have been gorging on sugar-water for quick-burning fuel.
  • by behindthewall (231520) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:42PM (#14229167)
    Someone call Letterman.
  • by craXORjack (726120) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @03:24PM (#14229370)
    I am picturing a hamster running on its little exercise wheel just stopping and thinking to itself "Oh what's the use? It seems like I run and I run and I run but I never seem to get anywhere."

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