Image by MatthewHolland
Anyone who has suffered depression will know just how debilitating an illness it can become. Feelings of loneliness, solitude and despair completely overwhelm the sufferer. Simple tasks such as getting dressed or cleaning your teeth can appear nigh on impossible. You would give anything to cut yourself off from the real world and cannot see any way out of the black hole that you find yourself in.
As more is learned about mental health, more therapies than ever before are available to fight and battle depression. Some treatments have proved more successful in dealing with the symptoms of depression than others – and surprisingly one of the best therapies has turned out to be art.
Sometimes Words Aren’t Enough
One of the things that I personally struggle with during my own low periods is finding the words to adequately do my feelings and emotions justice. Whether in a therapy session or trying to get what is inside me onto paper, the feelings of irritation, anger and hopelessness remain.
At times like this, using art to release those pent up emotions is a blessing. Letting your mind wander and guide a pen across a piece of paper in any direction sounds simple, but the effect it can have on your state of mind is remarkable.
Even though you’re not verbalizing your inner turmoil, what emerges from your doodling or scribbles can provide a sudden spark of inspiration, can distract you from black thoughts or can even clarify your thoughts more than words ever could.
Removing The Numbness
Speaking to people who are battling depression, the inability to feel or experience emotions is one which recurs time and again. The sufferer will talk of feeling detached from real life, or events around them.
By encouraging them to draw, paint or perhaps sculpture, then that person will find themselves immersing themselves in something which will end up being intensely personal to them. They will care about the outcome of their project and those feelings will be provoked to the surface once again. Feelings of pride, satisfaction which are so often suppressed during depression will encourage you to carry on and leave you wanting more.
Make Your Own Happiness
When one observes something which they find beautiful, the neurotransmitter dopamine – based in the pleasure centers of the brain – is released. Research has shown that this reaction, when confronted with a stunning piece of art, is similar to that of love. If that art has been created by your own hand, then those positive feelings will increase.
Why Art Over Other Therapies?
Many tried and tested therapies have proven more successful with a certain section of the personality range than others. Studies have shown that art therapy has had a high level of success right across the spectrum. Many who have undergone art therapy have found that they enjoy it to such an extent that they will continue drawing or painting well into recovery.
Art therapy is unique amongst therapies in that it is widely accepted to achieve the most difficult of results which is getting those fighting depression to express, confront and overcome their symptoms. The fact that the physical result is often beautiful is a wonderful by-product of the whole process.
Have you undergone art therapy either as part of a prescribed program or off your own back? Was it beneficial? Let us know in the comments section below.
John Rogers is a professional blogger who has used art in his own battle with depression.