Randolph M. Nesse
Resources on Depression

Back to Main Page
Back to Reprints

Preferred resources are in boldface type

Nesse RM: An evolutionary perspective on psychiatry. Comparative Psychiatry 25:575-580, 1984
An early overview of what evolutionary biology provides for psychiatry.

Nesse RM: What good is feeling bad? The evolutionary utility of psychic pain. The Sciences, 30-37, Nov./Dec. 1991.
An informal short overview of how negative feelings can be useful, with lovely illustrations

Nesse RM: What is mood for? Psycholoquy 2: Issue 9.2, November 24, 1991.
An early statement about the utility of mood

Nesse RM Emotional Disorders in Evolutionary Perspective. British Journal of Medical Psychology 71:397-415, 1998.
Some focus on depression, in an article on how evolution can help explain emotional disorders

Nesse RM Is depression an adaptation? Archives of General Psychiatry, 57: 14-20, 2000.
This is the classic statement, the widely cited  first article for the new millenium in The Archives

Nesse RM. Explaining depression: Neuroscience is not enough, evolution is essential. In: Pariente CM, Nesse RM, Nutt DJ, Wolpert L, editors. Understanding depression: A translational approach. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 17-36, 2009.
Best current statement of my ideas about depression

Nesse, RM: Motivation and Melancholy: A Darwinian perspective. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 2001.
A general treatment of motivation and mood

Nesse RM: Natural selection and the elusiveness of happiness. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci; 359(1449):1333-47, 2004
If natural selection is so great, why are we so prone to anxiety and depression?  The answer is here.

Nesse, RM: Evolutionary Psychology and Mental Health. Pages 903-937 in Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, Edited by David Buss, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken , NJ, 2005.
The most comprehensive statement of how evolutionary biology can help us to understand and treat mental disorders

Nesse, RM: Evolutionary explanations for mood and mood disorders. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood Disorders, edited by Daniel J. Stein , David J. Kupfer, and Alan F. Schatzberg, American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington DC, pp. 159-175, 2006.
This textbook chapter is the best starting place for clinical professionals who treat depression

Keller, MC, Nesse, RM: The Evolutionary Significance of Low Mood Symptoms. , Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(2):316-30, 2006. .
This article provides evidence that the symptoms of depression vary systematically depending on the cause.  
See also:
Keller, M. C., Nesse, R. M. Subtypes of low mood provide evidence of its adaptive significance. Journal of Affective Disorders, 86 (1): 27-35, 2005.

Nesse, RM: An evolutionary perspective on bereavement. In Carr D, Nesse R, Wortman CB: Late Life Widowhood in the United States, Springer, 2005, pp. 195-226.
A summary of the evolutionary origins and functions of grief, based on an extensive prospective research project

Nesse RM: Darwinian medicine and Mental Disorders. Elsevier International Congress Series, 1296:83-94, 2006.
A brief overview based on a conference presentation

Nesse RM. Evolution at 150: time for truly biological psychiatry. The British Journal of Psychiatry.December 1, 2009;195(6):471-2, 2009.
An editorial on the importance of evolution for understanding depression and schizophrenia

Web Videos

If evolution is so great, why is depression so common?  Grand Rounds, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, 2005.  QuickTime movie.

Why Does Depression Exist at all?  A video of a 2009 lecture, with emphasis on clinical relevance