Health Watch -- The Nervous System: Social Stress

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we're talking about the brain and nervous system. Psychiatrists often study mice as behavior models. Mice are social creatures that interact with each other and easily approach even strange mice. But when mice are confronted with overly aggressive mice, over time they become withdrawn, avoiding not only the bullies, but also other mice — even those smaller and weaker.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas found that treating these mice with antidepressants overcame the withdrawn behavior. They also found a gene that plays a role. When the gene is deleted, mice don't become withdrawn or depressed when exposed to bullies. Dr. Eric Nestler, chairman of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, says this knowledge could lead to treatments in humans for depression, social phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.


April 2006

Health Watch is heard Monday through Friday nationwide on ABC Satellite Radio. Call your local radio station and ask if they carry the program.