The underlying pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders remains elusive. The use of quantitative proteomics to investigate disease-specific protein signatures holds great promise to improve the understanding of psychiatric disorders and identify relevant biomarkers. In this review, we discuss quantitative proteomic approaches for elucidating molecular mechanisms of psychiatric disorders, i.e. anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, by studying specimens from animal models and patients. We present gel-based, label-free and stable isotope-labeling methodologies and evaluate their strengths and limitations in the context of psychiatric research, with a focus on 15N metabolic labeling of live animals due to its increased accuracy and potential for future applications. We also review biomarker candidate validation methods and present quantitative proteomic studies from the literature that aim to disentangle the molecular pathobiology of psychiatric disorders and identify candidate biomarkers. Finally, we explore the applicability of implementing proteomic methods as a routine diagnostic tool in the clinical laboratory.