7 Depression Research Paper Topic Ideas

Where to Start

Zsuzsanna Kilian/sxc.hu

If you are writing a depression research paper and you don't feel quite sure where to begin, the following are some topics which you may want to consider. These suggestions can lead you to ideas for more in-depth topics which you can research further in the library and online.

1. What Is Depression?

Everyone experiences times when they feel a little bit blue or sad.

This is a normal part of being human. Depression, however, is a medical condition which is quite different from everyday moodiness. Your paper may explore the basics or delve deeper into the definition of clinical depression or the difference between clinical depression and sadness.

2. What Types of Depression Are There?

There are several different types of depression, depending on how an individual's depression symptoms manifest themselves. Depression symptoms may vary in severity or in what is causing them. They may also be part of an illness called bipolar disorder, which includes fluctuations between depression and a state of extreme elation called mania.

3. What Causes Depression?

The possible causes of depression are many and not yet well understood. However, it is most likely that depression results from an interplay of genetic vulnerability and environmental factors. Your paper could explore one or more of these causes.

4. Who Is at Risk for Depression?

Certain risk factors may make a person more prone to developing depression, such as a family history of depression, adverse childhood experiences, stress, illness, and gender. This is not a complete list of all risk factors, however, it's a good place to start.​

5. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?

The signs of depression are those outward manifestations of the illness that a doctor can observe when she examines a patient, for example, a lack of emotional responsiveness.

On the other hand, symptoms are those subjective things about the illness that only the patient can observe, such as feelings of guilt or sadness. In an illness such as depression, which is often invisible to the outside observer, it is very important for patients to make an accurate accounting of all of their symptoms so that their doctor can diagnose them properly. You may explore these symptoms of depression in adults or how depression symptoms can be different in children.

6. How Is Depression Diagnosed?

In some ways, the diagnosis of depression is more an art than a science. Doctors must generally rely upon the patient's set of symptoms and what they can observe about him during their examination in order to make a diagnosis.  While there are certain laboratory tests which can be performed to rule out other medical illnesses as a cause of depression, there is not yet a definitive test for depression itself. You may want to start with the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM).

7. How Is Depression Treated? 

The first choice for depression treatment is generally an antidepressant medication, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) being the most popular choice due to them being quite effective and having relatively fewer side effects than certain older antidepressants.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is another effective and popular choice. It is especially efficacious when combined with antidepressant therapy. Certain other treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), are most commonly used for patients who do not respond to the other two. Exploring these treatments can be a good topic for your paper.


Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2018. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2018.