Preliminary Research Question

Previously, I mentioned in class that I wanted to do a research question that dealt with athletics, because I have always been interested in sports and more specifically, sports medicine.  However I could not come up with a question that was interesting or significant enough to pursue this topic.

Instead, I decided to turn to the topic of depression in women.  I’ve been reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath which brought up this topic.  Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets/writers, but her story is very sad. She suffered from depression for many years and took her life by putting her head in an oven.  The Bell Jar chronicles experiences based off of Plath’s life, including her depression.  When I read The Bell Jar I was startled at the sense of morbidity dealt with depression. Furthermore, I was shocked at the use of Electric Shock Treatment and could not believe it was legal and not uncommonly used to treat depression.

I researched depression (aka Google) and found out that women are much more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men.  This didn’t surprise me, but only made me more curious about the subject.  The research question I am toying with is:

Why are women more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men?

I want to refine this question to include more specific reasons, such ” What are the hormonal, genetic, and societal reasons that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men?” but I need to work on the phrasing.  I also want to narrow down the topic as necessary.

Hopefully this is a good start to my research question! At the very least, it is a subject that strongly interests me.

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4 thoughts on “Preliminary Research Question

  1. Good research topic with both a literature inspiration and an social science research method. Consider, first, though whether more more women suffer from depression than men or whether more are diagnosed as such. Perhaps men manifest it differently and are treated differently? Perhaps the definition of depression is skewed toward women. Do search research databases in psychology and consider maybe contacting one of our faculty who works on depression. You might find a newer angle in researching depression in men.

  2. Awesome topic! I believe it is widely accepted that on average, women do have a larger chance to experience depression in their lives compared to men. Did you know, however, that the highest risk factors for depression is being white and male? Also, define your definition of “depressed”. If you are referring to depression that is clinically diagnosable (there are an array of diagnoses depending on the intensity/duration of unhappiness), research a little about Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Some of the many key criteria patients may have to be considered to to have MDD is 1. that they must have had a major depressive episode (lookup definition) which last >2 weeks/episode and 2. they may have specific thoughts/plans/history of suicide/self harm.

    All in all look up the differential diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and its criteria. Talk to me more in person about its Tx (treatment) and other Sx (symptoms) – easier to explain in person than via blog. see you later !

  3. Great topic, Nicolette. Asking the question why more women are diagnosed with depression is a very interesting angle, because, as Dr. Jolly and Abi mentioned, women being more frequently diagnosed with depression does not necessarily mean more women are depressed or prone to depression than men. Your topic makes me wonder what factors may influence this statistic. I’ve heard that one reason why women traditionally live longer than men is because women generally seek medical attention more frequently than men. Could this be a factor? Or do more women actively seek medical attention when it comes to depression? Also, is it more socially accepted to be diagnosed with a mental illness as a female than as a male? Men are taught to hide their weakness more so than women. Could this be influencing the statistical evidence? I can imagine gender roles and gender expectations have a lot to do with whether or not men and women as a gender seek diagnoses.

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