Depression is a mental illness that adversely impacts a person’s feelings, thought, and behaviour. It is not just a state of sadness and anxiety, which you might feel for a few days. Depression affects for prolonged period— weeks, months or even a year. It causes loss of interest in activities, hopelessness, and a variety of emotional and physical problems.
The symptoms of depression range from psychological to physiological conditions such as:
- Anxiety and worry
- Frustration and anger
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of interest in activities and lack of motivation
- Self-harm and suicidal tendencies
- Difficulty in verbal interaction
- Tiredness, aches, and insomnia
- Loss of appetite
Apart from these symptoms, the social life of a person also gets impacted negatively. People suffering from depression immediately start taking medicine and believe this medication is the only cure. However, medication cannot uproot the problem. This is where Art therapy is very helpful. Art therapy utilises art forms like drawing and painting, collage making, and sculpting as a modeself-expression and communication. It is therapeutic.
A depressed person may be asked to paint or make a clay sculpture or make a collage by the therapist. Though it didn’t seem to help much to the person, but when the session completes, the person realises that he is feeling the difference.
Let’s see how art therapy helps in combating depression:
1. An alternate to verbal communication
People suffering from depression find it difficult to convey their feelings to a therapist. Because of low self-esteem and confidence, they find it difficult to open up. When they indulge themselves in the art forms, they gradually open up in front of the therapist and share their deepest emotions and feelings. Some people hesitate to talk about their problems when they have a direct eye contact with the therapist. Artistic activities ease them up and reduce their hesitation as they are not looking directly at their therapist.
2. Provides relaxation
Artistic activities divert the mind from the anxiety and sadness. They drift depressed people away from the constant worrying thoughts, and hence, relaxing their mind. They are so involved in the creative process that they forget the problems that keep them anxious every day.
3. Strengthens self-esteem
Depressed people when asked to paint to make any sculpture by the therapist, they initially declare that they aren’t capable of doing any art form, out of their low self-confidence. When they actually get involved in the activity and finish it, they feel a sense of accomplishment. Seeing the result, they get a big boost in the confidence which strengthens their self-esteem and give them a motivation.
4. Vent out anger and frustration
People are offered with activities like hitting the nails on the ply and make patterns, or take out their anger in the form of drawing or painting to vent out the frustration in a self-destructive way. This is an effective technique for mental relaxation without harming self or others. This activity not only pacifies their anger but also when they look at the art form afterwards, they feel pleased and content with their work.
5. Bridge between therapy and patient
Art therapy bridges the gap between a patient and a therapist. Through the art forms that a depressed person has made, therapists can infer a lot of inside information.Based on the patterns of the art form created by the person, the therapist can assess his current mental state; how well he is following the instructions and what is his motivational level, etc.
Medicines and talk therapies cannot stimulate the sub-consciousness the way creative process does it. In addition to the psychological therapy, the art therapists are also expert in art. They have an exhaustive. They have an exhaustive knowledge on both art and psychology. They blend both these fields in the therapy, which aids the patients to express their deep feelings and emotions. That’s the reason Art therapy is very effective and beneficial in treating depression.