Kindred Stress: Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Chimpanzee’s

17 March 2009
It seems that we are not alone in experiencing mood and anxiety disorders as is stated in this article“>paper on mood and anxiety disorders in chimpanzee’s. The paper states that ” In humans, traumatic experiences are sometimes followed by psychiatric disorders. In chimpanzees, studies have demonstrated an association between traumatic events and the emergence of behavioral disturbances resembling posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.” According to the results of this research, chimpanzees do indeed….. “develop posttraumatic symptoms, in the form of abnormal behaviors, which cluster into syndromes similar to those described in human mood and anxiety disorders”.
It seems quite evident that since we share over 97% of our genetic makeup with chimpanzee’s, share the same neurotransmitters and neurohormones, that it is no wonder that we might share the same response to trauma. As the paper states, hopefully this evidence will lead to more humane treatment of primates in captivity and research. I would like to consider extrapolating this research to more than just our fellow primates. I believe most animals may exhibit what has been labeled “post traumatic stress disorder” in response to stressful situations. I have seen similar responses in horses, dogs, cats as well as wild animals such as deer, eagles and others.
The next question that can be posed then is what can we do for these chimpanzee’s in captivity and research and all other species that experience post traumatic stress. There are pharmacologic, herbal, nutritional, nutraceutical and behavior modification options that have been found to be beneficial in people as well as dogs and cats. Perhaps they could be used to help these chimpanzee’s and other animals that experience PTSD. As mentioned in a previous post on the use of EMDR in animals, this is one option that could be explored. Psychoanalyst, Vera Paisner has been working with PTSD in dogs and horses, using a behavioral modification technique, EMDR, eye movement desensitization and rehabilitation. It has also been found to be beneficial in the treatment of PTSD in Iraqi war veterans.
As I have stated previously, I believe it would be beneficial to change the paradigm of proving that we are the same and have the onus be on skeptics to prove that we are different. We would create a different world, if our base understanding is that we are more similar rather than different. The concept of self vs. other, allows us to treat “other” differently than ourselves which often leads to cruel and humane behavior not only to other animals, but also to other humans. Differentiation of self vs. other inadvertently leads to the potential in creating fear and dominance toward other. Let us all work together creating this paradigm shift of the oneness of all beings, with increased compassion and loving kindness to all!

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