Monoamine theories of depression: historical impact on biomedical research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Monoamine theories associate depression with reduced brain monoamine levels. These theories achieved broad popularity in the mid-1960s. The present article reviews the historical development of monoamine theories and their subsequent impact on biomedical research. Alleged divisions between West European and U.S. researchers over competing versions of the theories are investigated using bibliometrics. Subsequently, the application of monoamine theories in the NIMH Collaborative Program on the Psychobiology of Depression is covered. The paper argues that the impact of monoamine theories is best explained by the ability of researchers, governmental agencies and pharmaceutical companies to invoke theories that advance various projects and agendas.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gender Studies


  • depression, biological psychiatry, history, monoamine hypothesis, monoamine theory, Psychobiology of Depression Program, NIMH, bibliometrics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-392
JournalJournal of the History of the Neurosciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch