UNIT 8.10A Rodent Models of Depression: Forced Swim and Tail Suspension Behavioral Despair Tests in Rats and Mice

  1. Vincent Castagné,
  2. Paul Moser,
  3. Sylvain Roux,
  4. Roger D. Porsolt

Published Online: 1 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0810as55

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

Current Protocols in Neuroscience

How to Cite

Castagné, V., Moser, P., Roux, S. and Porsolt, R. D. 2011. Rodent Models of Depression: Forced Swim and Tail Suspension Behavioral Despair Tests in Rats and Mice. Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 55:8.10A:8.10A.1–8.10A.14.

Author Information

  1. Porsolt & Partners Pharmacology, Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: APR 2011


The development of antidepressants requires simple rodent behavioral tests for initial screening before undertaking more complex preclinical tests and clinical evaluation. Presented in the unit are two widely used screening tests used for antidepressants, the forced swim (also termed behavioral despair) test in the rat and mouse, and the tail suspension test in the mouse. These tests have good predictive validity and allow rapid and economical detection of substances with potential antidepressant-like activity. The behavioral despair and the tail suspension tests are based on the same principle: measurement of the duration of immobility when rodents are exposed to an inescapable situation. The majority of clinically used antidepressants decrease the duration of immobility. Antidepressants also increase the latency to immobility, and this additional measure can increase the sensitivity of the behavioral despair test in the mouse for certain classes of antidepressant. Testing of new substances in the behavioral despair and tail suspension tests allows a simple assessment of their potential antidepressant activity by the measurement of their effect on immobility. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 55:8.10A.1-8.10A.14. © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • animal models;
  • antidepressants;
  • behavior;
  • depression;
  • mice;
  • rats