Can Birds Feel Depressed? The Surprising Answer



  • Birds can feel depressed.
  • Birds can get depressed due to traumatic events, injury, lack of social interaction, unhealthy diet and captivity.
  • Birds can have mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Birds are known for their happy songs and carefree attitude. But can birds feel depressed? New research suggests that they can, and the implications of this are fascinating.

In this blog post, we will explore the question of whether or not birds can feel depressed, and what this might mean for the future of bird psychology. Stay tuned to learn more.

Can Birds Feel Depressed? New Research Says So

If you’ve ever felt down in the dumps, you’re not alone. Depression is a common emotion that affects people of all ages, races, and genders. But did you know that depression isn’t just limited to humans? That’s right – new research suggests that birds can suffer from depression, too.

This research is still in its early stages, but scientists have already discovered some interesting things about bird depression.

For example, they’ve found that birds who are depressed sing different songs than non-depressed birds. They also tend to eat less and sleep more.

In order to understand whether or not birds can feel depressed, scientists first had to figure out how to measure it. And that’s where things get a little bit tricky.

You see, unlike humans, birds can’t tell us how they’re feeling. We have to rely on other methods to assess their emotional state.

One way scientists do this is by measuring the levels of certain hormones in the bird’s body. These hormones are related to depression in humans, so they provide a good indicator of whether or not a bird is depressed.

When a bird is feeling depressed, an imbalance of certain hormones is observed. The hormonal imbalance signals to the brain that it is in a negative state. These hormones can include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Due to hormonal imbalance, Can birds feel depressed?

The imbalance of these hormones can have serious consequences for the bird’s health. For example, serotonin is involved in mood regulation, and high levels of norepinephrine can lead to increased heart rate and anxiety.

These findings could have important implications for the way we care for birds who are suffering from depression. By understanding which hormones are released when a bird is depressed, we can develop better treatments for this condition.

Depression in Birds Parakeet or Parrots – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Can Parrots Get Depressed? Yes They Can

So far, most of the research on bird depression has been conducted on parrots. That’s because parrots are some of the smartest birds out there, and they’re also more likely to be kept as pets.

This means that we know more about their behavior and psychology than we do about other types of birds.

One study found that parrots who were kept in captivity were more likely to suffer from depression than parrots who lived in the wild.

The study also found that captive parrots were more likely to self-mutilate, which is a common symptom of depression in humans.

According to the University of Prudent, feather picking in birds is a sign of compulsive disorder in birds.

These findings suggest that birds who are kept in captivity may be more prone to depression. This is likely due to the fact that they are not able to live in their natural environment and engage in natural behaviors.

By providing your bird with a stimulating environment, you can help reduce its risk of developing depression.

Can Birds Have A Mental Illness? Birds Experience PSTD

Yes, birds can suffer from mental illness. In fact, studies have shown that birds are susceptible to a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

A psychologist and Ecologist Gay Bradshaw (Ph.D.) reported that captive birds experience Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) due to prolonged repeated suffering. Caged parrots show symptoms comparable to Complex PSTD in humans.

Persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, separation and distrust could be observed in depressed parrots. Birds may develop mental illness for a number of reasons. Various causes are discussed below.

How Do Birds Get Depressed? Causes of Depression

There are many different factors that can contribute to bird depression. Some of these include:

  • A traumatic event: Birds who have experienced a traumatic event, such as being captured or witnessing the death of a mate, may develop PTSD.
  • A lack of social interaction: Birds are social creatures, and in the wild, they live in large flocks. The lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can trigger depression.
  • An unhealthy diet: A diet that is lacking in nutrients can lead to deficiencies that can trigger depression.
  • Captivity: Birds who are kept in captivity may be more prone to depression. This is likely due to the fact that they are not able to live in their natural environment and engage in natural behaviors.
  • Injuries: Birds who have suffered traumatic injuries may also be at risk for developing depression.
  • Disease: Some diseases can cause neurological changes that lead to depression.
Causes of depression in birds

If you think your bird may be depressed, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for a checkup. They can rule out any medical causes of depression and provide you with guidance on how to best care for your bird.

Do Birds Get Depressed Alone? Loneliness in Birds

Birds are social creatures, so it’s not surprising that they can get depressed when they’re alone. In the wild, birds live in large flocks. But when birds are kept in captivity, they often don’t have much contact with other birds.

This lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can trigger depression. Therefore, birds need social interaction for their survival.

Depression is a serious condition that can have a negative impact on a bird’s health. If you think your bird may be depressed, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. With the right care, your bird can start to feel better and enjoy life again.

Do Birds Get Depressed In The Winter?

Birds may be more prone to depression in the winter for a number of reasons. One is that there is less daylight during this time of year. This can throw off their internal clocks and disrupt their sleeping patterns.

Another reason is that food may be scarce in the winter. In the wild, birds have to work hard to find food during this season. But when birds are kept in captivity, they may not have to work as hard to find food. This can lead to boredom and depression.

Do Birds Get Depressed In Cages?

Birds who are kept in cages may be more prone to depression because they are not able to live in their natural environment and engage in natural behaviors.

One of the most popular is that bird depression is caused by a lack of sunlight. You see, birds are very sensitive to changes in light. In the wild, they rely on the sun to cue them when it’s time to wake up and start looking for food.

Most of the birds need light for 12 hours. But when birds are kept in captivity, they don’t have access to natural sunlight. This can screw up their internal clocks and throw off their whole day.

As a result, they may not get enough sleep or have regular mealtimes. This can lead to an imbalance of the hormones we talked about earlier, which can cause depression.

Cages can also be stressful places for birds. They may feel anxious or lonely in a cage, especially if they don’t have much contact with other birds. This can lead to depression.

How to Tell If a Bird Is Depressed? Signs of Stress in Birds

There are a few signs to look for that may indicate your bird is depressed. These include:

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Loss of interest in toys or activities
  • Plucking out feathers
  • Self-mutilation
  • Aggression or withdrawn behavior

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your bird to an avian veterinarian for a checkup.

Depression's sign in birds

Can Birds Die From Depression?

Birds can die from depression, but it’s relatively rare. In most cases, birds will only succumb to depression if it leads to an underlying health condition that is left untreated.

For example, if a bird stops eating because of depression, it may develop liver disease. If a bird plucks out all their feathers due to depression, it may develop an infection. These underlying health conditions can be fatal if they’re not treated in a timely manner.

While birds can die from depression, it’s important to remember that most birds will only succumb to the condition if it leads to another health problem. With proper treatment, most birds can recover from depression and live long healthy lives.

How to Treat a Depressed Budgie & Cockatiel?

If you think your bird is depressed, there are a few things you can do to help.

  1. First, the cage of your bird should be in a quiet area of the house. The cage should be big enough for your bird to move around it and should be equipped with perches, toys, and other objects to keep your bird entertained.
  2. The bird should have access to natural sunlight. If possible, set up the cage near a window so your bird can get some sun every day.
  3. In addition, you need to make sure your bird is getting enough exercise. This means letting your bird out of the cage for at least a few hours each day to fly around and explore.
  4. Finally, give your bird a healthy diet to eat. A diet that is high in fat and sugar can contribute to depression, so it’s important to feed your bird a healthy diet of seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

By following these tips, you can help your bird recover from depression and live a long and healthy life.

The Bottom Line

So, can birds feel depressed? The answer is yes. Birds are complex creatures with their own emotions and psychological needs.

The research on bird depression is important because it could help us develop better ways to care for birds in captivity. By understanding the causes of bird depression, we can make sure that these animals are given the best possible chance to thrive.

Do you have a bird at home? Have you ever noticed it acting differently when it’s cloudy outside or doesn’t have access to other birds? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Mellor, E. L., McDonald Kinkaid, H. K., Mendl, M. T., Cuthill, I. C., van Zeeland, Y. R., & Mason, G. J. (2021). Nature calls: intelligence and natural foraging style predict poor welfare in captive parrots. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288(1960), 20211952.
  2. Highly Intelligent Pet Parrots Most Likely To Suffer Mental Health Problems – Forbes
  3. Parrots’ behaviors mirror human mental disorders by Joseph Garner – Purdue University
  4. Birds don’t belong in Cages – PETA
  5. How Much Natural Light Does Your Pet Bird Need? by By Wyld’s Wingdom


  • Lena Martin

    Lena Martin loves birds and cats. She also has a profound interest in writing and the behavioral psychology of animals. Therefore, she has been observing and fulfilling the emotional needs of their pets for the past 11 years.

    Martin Lena

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