Can Creating Art Fight Depression?

In my experience, yes.

Of course, it depends on many things. There are all kind of depressions and, maybe, when you are at the latest stage, when nothing counts any more and you just want to curl in the fetal position and hope to die, well, maybe then art wouldn’t do the trick…

It depends, also, if you are just an art amateur or an art creator (no matter if you are any good, if you are famous or not). Just looking at paintings in a book or in a museum wouldn’t do the trick either, even in light depression cases, probably.

But if you are a creator, it will, most of the time, even in hard cases. I don’t know if it’s the same thing as in Eros and Thanatos, Love and Death counterbalancing themselves. You know, they say the passion of lovers being exacerbated by the presence of Death or a mortal danger… Could be. Creation and depression, love and death…

Durer's Melencolia

Durer’s Melencolia

Anyway, when you create art (and mind you, the word “art”  has lots – sometimes too many –  meanings, … carpentry could be an art if you put passion in it…and they talk about the art of cooking..), when you do something with your hands and eyes and heart, it changes something in the chemical balance (or INbalance) of your brain. The chemistry of your brain really changes. And depression, sadness, melancholia (the old, middle age name for depression; as in the above Melencolia of Albrecht Durer) fades away. At least for a while. And if you persist creating it will fade away for good. That’s my experience, at least.

Here it is, my latest creation (except for a commissioned portret): it looks sad, melancholical, maybe. But I am not.

Your Roots can Enslave You

Your Roots can Enslave You

I cannot end this post without citing (again) Graham Greene and his essential words (for me, at least, essential; they guided me in time of trouble, in times when I was Waiting for the Miracle to Come...) :

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.”

(“Ways of Escape” , Graham Greene’s autobiography; In fact, Graham Greene ended this phrase by citing himself Auden: “Man needs escape as he needs deep sleep’)

Escape or not, it works. Create something (write, compose, paint etc, etc.) and your depression will fade away… In my experience, at least. But about this, and about famous cases, like Vincent Van Gogh’s, another time…


12 responses to “Can Creating Art Fight Depression?

  1. Oh, surely it does. It can be a great help to fight it. It certainly doesn’t heal it, but it helps to get over it.
    Art is indeed an excellent therapy,one of the best I’ve experienced till now. And I know you know what I’m talking about.

    Thank you for this (another!) great, helpful post!

    Miss you; miss our “chats”.


  2. Reblogged this on nós and commented:
    Miss you!

  3. It is one of many things that can help. Judy collins swears by eating lots of greens and going for long walks. I think variety is the key. If you try enough things, you will be more likely to find something that works. the mere fact that you can get yourself to try things is a good thing in itself. Great to see you back.

  4. Eating greens (which I do) and taking long walks (which I wish I do) could help, of course. But these are a bit too vague (just a general tonic, a ginseng cure0, not focused enough on depression. Creating something with your hands and mind and heart kind of targets better the CAUSES, the inner heart of depression, in my opinion. And it’s true also that the hardest part is to start again painting or writting etc. When you do it it’s like you are half the way already on the good side… On the other side of depression (some call that “moon mood”)…

    • Fair poiont, but I think the fact that this comes from singer songwriter Judy Collins suggests she is already doing the art stuff and very well too. Her advice suggests that is all she needs.

      • I’m just an old ignorant, barb (by the way, my wife’s family name is barb!) and I have never heard of Judy Collins before (which is only fair since she never heard of me either; jocking). I’ll search for her on the net. Greens, long walks and a creative work, yes, that should do it about right…Best whises!
        YangYin (my name in chinese Da(Yes) Nu (no))

      • Not ignorant, nobody can know everything. cheers.

      • Thanks, Barb! It would be awful to know everything! no discovery to make, no new singer to listen, no new artist to see…
        Best wishes!

      • Utterly boring if that was possible. cheers.

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