Tryptophan depletion is a method of depression induction that inhibits serotonin synthesis. Processed carbohydrates are examples of foods depleted of tryptophan and the rise of processed foods has been correlated with an increase in depression. Many other methods of depression induction that have been combined with voluntary exercise have shown that exercise can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of depression. We tested the effect tryptophan depletion has on Sprague Dawley male rats when given access to a running wheel. No significant differences were found between control, tryptophan depleted, and tryptophan depleted plus exercise groups in performance during the forced swim test, a measurement of hopelessness, but the trend of the results suggested that exercise had a small effect on depression in the animals. However, the forced swim test, a measurement of hopelessness, and the elevated plus maze, a measurement of anxiety, did not show any expected differences between groups. Future research could involve a larger sample size and a more consistent method of amino acid administration in an attempt to reach significance.


Stavnezer, Amy Jo




Animal Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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