The Link Between Art and Depression

I sometimes wonder if artists are more sensitive than other professionals, so suffer more from depression and related illness than they do?

OR… is it that everyone struggles, but artists have a creative outlet for their depression, which is what makes it more visible to others?

If it’s the latter, does the creativity assist with demolishing low moods, or does it encourage it? Because let’s be honest, most of the best love songs, paintings, photographs, stories etc were born from severe anguish. Oooh it’s an interesting one to pick apart, that’s for sure.


I don’t have the time or the resources to gather research of my own, but there is enough evidence already out there to support a theory that neurodiversity, depression and creativity are knitted together. That doesn’t mean that all Autistic people can paint. Or that all BiPolar people can write a love song. But it means that their unique perspective on the world can inspire something amazing. We then have to figure out how to translate that in to a narrative that’s tangible for others. Some have the environmental factors to enable this and some don’t.

I think you could also throw in to the mix, that a neurodivergent mind will process the world differently, and this in itself can produce artwork which is unique and of enormous value. This is where my curiosity really kicks in.

The Grumpy Hen

Art has been used for many years, as a form of therapy for anyone who is struggling with anger, anxiety or general mental health. There are many reasons why this is successful.

Firstly, indulging a person’s basic senses can give a positive focus and help to settle your brain chemistry. Whether it’s working with the tactile qualities of clay, examining a subject with your eyes or just adding colour to a page, it takes a gentle thought process with sensory rewards.

Secondly, once you are calm, it’s possible to communicate your feelings through your chosen medium. Sometimes, especially with Autism, there can be gaps in one’s ability to communicate verbally – particularly when your fight or flight mode is activated. But when presented with something abstract, such as colour, line and shape, it is possible to get those emotions out.

Oddly, if you ask someone to ‘draw how they feel’ they probably won’t be able to. Trying to put your own emotions in to a visual representation is near impossible. However, if you merely set out to create something, most of us will automatically pour our emotion in to it anyway… food for thought. Have you ever looked back on something and realised it was skewed by your mindset at the time? Well there you go.

I’m setting out to produce a body of work which allows my current mindset to access the freedom of my creativity. I have no idea where to start or where it will take me, but that’s the whole point isn’t it?! The journey rather than the destination.

2 thoughts on “The Link Between Art and Depression

  1. Helen Mahoney 4th Apr 2022 — 1:25 pm

    I think a neurodivergant mind is more open to creativity, and their interpretation of life, makes for an interesting mix.
    The ‘average’ mind struggles to interpret life enough to make a coherent impression, that captures the everyday ‘person’.
    (Just my opinion!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, can a neurotypical person create art of the same value as a neurodivergent person…?


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