London, July 24 : It's not just humans who get the blues when they abstain from alcohol, for even mice become depressed and lose brain cells when they stay away from liquor, says a new study.
Researchers led by Clyde Hodge of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill found that those mice who voluntarily drank moderate amounts of alcohol displayed depression-like behaviour when they were put off from alcohol.
A significant drop was also seen in the number of brain cells in the hippocampus - a region linked to memory and mood.
"The number of new neurons fell by 40 per cent, and that's a lot," The New Scientist quoted Hodge, as saying.
While the abstaining mice became "blue" after almost 2 weeks of taking their last drink, it was found that antidepressants successfully restored their mood.
Hodge said that with these results, there is a hope for a possibility of better treatment for abstinence-related depression in alcoholics.
However, he cautioned that this should not mean that it is a justification for continuing to drink in order "to feel better".