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Depression Grand Challenge

Humanities Reflecting on Depression

Albrecht Dürer - Melencolia I - Google Art Project ( AGDdr3EHmNGyA)The humanities are a set of disciplines that focus on the human condition and its manifold expressions, including health and illness. Humanities research employs methods that are historical, analytical, interpretive and/or speculative in nature. Humanities scholars may question the meaning of contemporary works or practices or they may focus on developing a better understanding or interpretation of works, practices, and cultural contexts in the past.

The Medical Humanities is an interdisciplinary field that spans philosophy and the arts (literature, film, visual art), ethics, culture studies, and intersects with more humanistic social sciences: history of science, science and technology studies, and medical anthropology.


The following subject searches will yield books and articles regarding representations of depression. 

The UCLA Library, along with other libraries in the UC system, provides access to many books on the humanist interpretations of depression. When searching the UCLA Library Catalog (for resources at UCLA), you can use subject headings to narrow your search. Subject headings function like hashtags--for example, books on that focus on depression in art will likely be tagged with the subject heading "Depression — in art"

Below are a few examples of subject heading searches related to depression and the humanities. To learn more about working with subject headings, see this video tutorial (subject headings start at 1:58) or ask a librarian for help. 

Selected Books from the UCLA Library Catalog

Article Databases

Example searches in UC Library Search (Articles, books and more):

  • Subjects: Depression AND Film (NOT "Economic Depression" "Great Depression"), Discipline: Film, Limit to Scholarly & Peer-Reviewed Sources - In this example, we are looking for scholarly and peer-reviewed resources on depression and film. To help focus the results, we have used an advanced search to exclude the terms "Economic Depression" and "Great Depression."
  • Subject: "Psychoanalysis and literature" Keyword: Depression - In this example, we use a specific subject term ("Psychoanalysis and literature") with "Depression" as a keyword. This search is also limited to scholarly and peer-reviewed resources.


UCLA researchers have access to these journals:


Madness and Literature Network — has an extensive bibliography of first-person accounts of madness.

A few examples of relevant articles from the journals listed above