eli5: Do animals have to deal with complex mental disorders (like bpd and schizophrenia)?

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I know some animals can have depression and anxiety, but those are pretty basic disorders compared to stuff like By Proxy. Do animals deal with this stuff or are their brains not big/advanced enough?

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

animals can experience emotions like depression and anxiety, they don’t typically develop complex mental disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or schizophrenia as humans do. These disorders involve a complex interplay of genetics, environment, and brain structure, which may not be as developed or configured in the same way in animals as in humans. So, while animals can have mental health challenges, they’re generally not as complex as the disorders you mentioned.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A point which /u/CanucksClub1 touched on in their excellent answer is that a lot of mental health conditions are extensively influenced by society. You might know that schizophrenic hallucinations in some countries (some in Africa and Asia) tend to be much more positive and less frightening, often seen as family spirits talking to them etc.

In the Western world, they’re much more likely to be negative and frightening, because of social influences on our beliefs about them.

There are also specific culture-bound syndromes that are only found in specific cultures; for instance, in Malay there is a word “koro”, which is the delusional disorder that your penis is retracting inside you. It appears in very specific cultures, like South China.

Also from the Malay language, and appearing in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, is “running amok”. This is when people have a sudden outburst of aggression, attacking everybody around them until either they are killed or fall unconscious, claiming amnesia.

My point is that manifestations of many mental health conditions are influenced heavily by culture and society, and we know very little about many animals’ culture and society – they may well have them (like tool use patterns in primates) but we can find it very difficult to read.

We can create animal models of things like schizophrenia by [changing their genes, changing their development, causing injuries to their brain, or giving them drugs](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229756/), which influence their dopamine function as well know that schizophrenia involves dopamine involves increased dopamine activity.

There’s absolutely no reason why these changes or injuries wouldn’t happen in the wild, but we might find it quite difficult to tell!

We know that [dogs can get dementia](https://www.thesprucepets.com/senior-dementia-in-dogs-3385016) and [brainworms can infect moose](https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/environment-public-health-and-safety/wildlife-issues/fish-and-wildlife-diseases/brainworm-or-moose-sickness#:~:text=However%2C%20in%20mule%20deer%2C%20moose,subsequent%20death%20of%20the%20animal.) and cause behavioural changes like fearlessness, and [toxoplasmosis](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2526137/) causes mice to run out of cover and be unafraid of cats.

Toxoplasmosis infection in humans is also thought to potentially be responsible for “a vast array of neuropsychiatric symptoms”, including contributing to schizophrenia. Why not in other animals too?

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can but not likely as often/heavily as humans do. Mental disorders tend to come from complex environmental and societal events that usually coincide with human life. Animals have their own everyday stresses and complexities therefore can develop mental disorders but its is not as often/there has to be some type of physical or mental push the animal faces to develop one.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I know a lot of zoo animals exhibit strong signs of psychosis (bored out of their gourds, small enclosures, stress, unnatural environments, etc.)