7 Depression Research Paper Topic Ideas

Start Exploring Topics of Interest for Your Paper

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Depression is a common topic for research papers in psychology classes. It's a very complex subject and one that offers many possible topics to focus on, which may leave you wondering where to begin.

If you are writing a paper on depression, 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 that are dependent on how an individual's depression symptoms manifest themselves. Depression symptoms may vary in severity or in what is causing them. For instance, major depressive disorder (MDD) may have no known cause or one that's identifiable in an individual, while postpartum depression is specifically linked to women and childbirth.

The symptoms may also be part of an illness called bipolar disorder. This includes fluctuations between depression and a state of extreme elation called mania. It is a topic that offers many opportunities on its own, from the definition and cause, to the risks, symptoms, and treatment.

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 and reference the latest research on the topic.

For instance, how does an imbalance in brain chemistry or poor nutrition relate to depression? Is there a relationship between the stressful, busier lives of today's society and the rise of depression? How can grief or a major medical condition lead to overwhelming sadness and depression?

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.

The growing rate of depression in children, teenagers, and young adults is an interesting subtopic you can focus on as well. Whether you dive into the reasons behind the increase or the treatment options that are safe for young people, there is a lot of research available in this area and many unanswered questions to consider.

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 is a visible sign. 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. 

An illness such as depression is often invisible to the outside observer. That is why it is very important for patients to make an accurate accounting of all of their symptoms so 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 of 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.

If you'd like to pursue this topic, you may want to start with the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM). DSM-5 is the latest edition and it offers a very detailed explanation that guides doctors to a diagnosis. The current model can also be compared to historical methods of diagnosis and how this has improved the way depression treatments have improved over the years.

7. How Is Depression Treated? 

The first choice for depression treatment is generally an antidepressant medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most popular choice because they can be quite effective and tend to have fewer side effects than some older antidepressants.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is another effective and common 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.

A Word From Verywell

The topic of depression really can take you down many different roads. When making your final decision on which to pursue for your paper, it's often helpful to begin listing a few areas that peak your interest. From there, consider doing a little preliminary research. You may come across something that grabs your attention like a new study, a controversial topic you didn't know about, or something that hits a personal note.

View Article Sources
  • Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2018. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018.