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Depression Grand Challenge

Depression in the Sciences

  • Depression is a physical and mental illness. Specifically, it's a mood disorder. In people with depression, physical changes in brain function and structure are associated with psychological symptoms.
  • Depression can take many formsIndividuals' symptoms vary, but people with depression generally have persistent and severe sad, anxious, or negative feelings that interfere with their normal lives. 
  • Depression is an active area of scientific research. Many different scientific fields contribute to the study of depression - psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and more. Our current understanding suggests that depression has multiple complex biological, environmental, and psychological causes.
  • Depression can be treated. Most people with depression are treated with medication and/or psychotherapy.
  • Want to learn more? The National Institute of Mental Health is a great place to start.

Basic Information about Depression


Searching for Research Literature

Example PubMed searches:

If you type "ketamine depression" into the PubMed search box, you'll see over 1300 results. Many of them will be relevant, but you'll also run into many irrelevant results. For instance, ketamine is used in anesthesia, and you'll find it mentioned in the same abstract as a term like "respiratory depression" - which probably isn't what you're looking for.

MeSH will give you more targeted results. If we combine the MeSH terms for these two concepts like so: "Ketamine"[Mesh] AND ("Depressive Disorder"[Mesh] OR "Depression"[Mesh]) we narrow down the 1300+ results to only about 300. Want to restrict your search to even more specific, more targeted results? Instead of using the regular [Mesh] field, we can specify that we only want to see MeSH terms that are tagged as the MAJOR topic of an article - in other words, the concept isn't just discussed in the paper, it's the actual point of the research. If we restrict our MeSH search to only [Majr] topics, we narrow it down still further to about 230 results: "Ketamine"[Majr] AND ("Depressive Disorder"[Majr] OR "Depression"[Majr])

Measuring Depression

How do you determine who is depressed? Depression screening is an important method of identifying people who need mental health services support. Screening recommendations and instruments vary according to the population (pregnant women, older adults, children and adolescents, etc) and the screening environment (primary care clinic, oncology office, etc).

Depression in Southern California