How Art Therapy Helps Depression

Mental health is something that has been a taboo topic for very long. Luckily, that seems to be changing, as people are starting to talk more and more openly about the things they are experiencing, and with open conversation comes sharing of helpful tips. One thing that many people claim helps them deal with disorders like depression and anxiety is painting. Art is a powerful tool and it can help in many ways, so let’s see how it can help you.

Expressing yourself without words

Expressing yourself without words

Emotions are complicated and intertwined, often leaving us without the right words to express them. And at times when we can’t express what we feel in words, we can express it in other ways. It can be music, or it can be painting. Drawing what you feel, no matter how abstract it could be, is a method often used to help people – and especially children – to identify what they’re feeling. This isn’t just a matter of not knowing the word for the feeling you feel, but not being able to identify the feeling at all. However, painting it and then analyzing your work, especially together with a therapist, can help you identify those emotions and deal with them accordingly.

Channel your feelings

All art is emotional. People with anxiety or depression often need to have healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with their emotions, so that they don’t turn to something harmful. These mechanisms are different for every person, and it might take you a while to find yours, but a good place to start is art. Art allows you to feel all of your emotions and channel them into creating something new instead of being destructive. If you choose painting, you can order a canvas online and keep it in a place where you can always find it so you have it ready for any time you feel like you are being overwhelmed by your emotions. It’s important to make it as simple as possible for yourself to get to your coping mechanism, whether it’s an instrument, a canvas or a diary, so that you can help yourself before slipping further.

Look back at what you’ve been through

Channel your feelings

If you’ve been dealing with a mental illness for a longer time and you’ve been using art as a coping mechanism for some time now, you can use that art to see how far you’ve come. Not in an artistic way, but how your feelings have changed overtime. You can look at the emotions that you painted and see how much better you’re feeling now compared to when you started the journey. Or, if you feel like your recent paintings have been getting darker and more depressed, you can look at the bright points and try to figure out what was different back then and how you can get back to that point.

Beautiful things make us happy

It’s not all about the process of creating. Going into galleries and looking at art, or just looking at the ones you’ve done yourself is a powerful thing. When you look at beautiful art, your brain has a similar response like it does when you are in love. So, when you’re feeling down, perhaps a walk to a nearby gallery or even just looking up some art online can help you feel better.

Opening up the discussion about mental illness is the most important step to treating it, so even if you don’t feel ready to share your experience and openly talk about it, listening to what others had to say and amplifying their voice can do just as much good. In the meantime, you should give art a try as a way of dealing with your emotions.  You never know – it might be the thing you’ve been looking for all along.

About the author

Diana Smith

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