The Color of Depression (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the color of depression, and explore some novel concepts like Color Psychology, Color Therapy and Color Perception in Depression.

Color of Depression

The color of depression in general terms is assumed to be blue, as shown in the phrase “feeling blue” because blue is one of the cooler shades in the spectrum of colors and coldness is associated with the melancholy feelings of depression.

Depression is characterized by intense sadness, inability to function in daily tasks, lack of energy, feeling unmotivated, and loss of sleep and appetite.

These things are associated with dark shades and cool tones, and therefore other colors that are used to denote depression also tend to be dark, muted, and cool shades like Dark blue, Gray, Purple, and lilac, in fact, purple hyacinths are considered to be a symbol of sadness.

Different colors and emotion

A recent study working with the theories about the color of depression found that people with depression or anxiety were more likely to associate their mood with the color gray than happier people, who preferred yellow.

People often comment that they feel like they are in a gray mood today or they are feeling blue funk.

Similarly, for the anger, they may say that they are seeing red or they could be green with jealousy.

Colors are often used to describe emotions, and this may be more useful than previously thought, due to some new research related to colors and emotions, which explains why blue has always been seen as the color of depression.

The results of the study mentioned above are detailed in the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology, and they are extremely useful in the context of dealing with someone who is not able to report on their mood, in which case, doctors could gauge the moods of children and other patients who are having trouble communicating verbally.

“This is a way of measuring anxiety and depression which gets away from the use of language,” study co-author Peter J Whorwell, a professor in the University Hospital South Manchester commented, “What is very interesting is that this might actually be a better way of capturing the patient’s mood than questions.”

It is a common thing to use colors as metaphors for moods, but before this study, it had not been systematically researched.

Color associations, Whorwell said, can be used to investigate moods in people who are not able to give an accurate sense of it.

He and his colleagues also found that saturation of color and its relation to mood was also important. “A light blue is not associated with a poor mood, but a dark blue is,” Whorwell said. “The shade of color is more important than the color itself.”

Depression and perception of color

Depression has also been proven to alter our perception of color, in that we tend to prefer darker shades that are cool-toned when our mood is low.

In addition to gray being a color of depression, research indicates that people with depression may be more sensitive to it as well.

When people with depression are asked about their color choices, most mention a dark color, like blue, black, or gray.

The reason for this is likely that patients with depression cannot view black and white contrasts accurately, due to the changes that may have taken place in their brain due to serotonin imbalance.

According to a study in Biological Psychiatry, researchers discovered that there was a dramatically lower retinal contrast gain (which allows us to differentiate between contrast in colors) in patients with depression, than in healthy subjects.

Even among patients taking medication for depression, they found a significant decrease in the retinal sensitivity of depressed patients, as compared to healthy people.

This proves with certainty that depression can change the way a patient sees the world, and can even eliminate the vibrancy of naturally occurring colors, making the world seem gray, quite literally.

In addition, studies have also found that the more neutral colored and dark we see the world, the worse depression tends to get, for instance how people tend to experience more depression during the Winter, as opposed to in summer (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

What do different colors do for health?

Different colors have been attributed to benefitting us in some way, which is part of a growing field of study known as Color Psychology.

Here is a list of what different colors are associated with:

·       RED: Energy, confidence, will-power, strength, courage, motivation, attention to detail. Good for people suffering from depression and negativity.

·       ORANGE: Stimulation, Optimism, Creativity, self-expression, happiness, opens the mind to things, revitalizing great in cases of Depression, negativity, trauma stress of losing a loved one.

·       GOLD: Great for Depression, especially in women going through menopause or menarche, or anxiety.

·       YELLOW: cleansing, self-confidence, contentment, self-control, mentally stimulating, for use in depression, despair, and disdain, negativity, lack of confidence.

·       GREEN: Promotes harmony, personal development, compassion for self and others, self-acceptance, great for stress, panic, and anxiety.

·       BLUE: Calm, peace, relaxation, slowing down, steadying, self-expression, intuition, great for insomnia or anger, also to feel cool and for hot flashes in menopause.

Color Psychology for home décor

Color psychology is a subset of psychology that deals with how certain colors make us feel and how our perception of colors can change our thoughts and behavior.

According to current studies on color psychology, researchers suggest that if your home is decorated with colors in a certain way, it can boost your productivity.

Living room and open areas: Earthy tones like brown and beige as well as warm colors like reds, yellows, and oranges, and often work well in both the living room and other public, open spaces in the house as they stimulate conversation. Kate Smith, a color consultant comments, “These are colors that encourage people to sit around and talk, You feel the warmth, the connection with other people.”

Kitchen/dining room colors. Color consultants say that it makes sense to recreate the color scheme of your childhood kitchen in your grown-up kitchen. “If you grew up in a blue-and-white kitchen and have great memories, blue and white may be the best colors for you and your family,” Kate Smith says about the kitchen

She also says that warm, appetite-inducing colors like reds and yellows can be great colors in the kitchen as well as in the living room, especially for people who may be going through depression.

Bedroom: The colors in the bedroom need to make you relax and connect with your partner. Cool colors, like blues, greens and lavenders are great choices here, as they promote a calming effect. In addition, darker shades will help more.

Color Consultant Harrington suggests, “Reds tend to increase blood pressure and heart rate and stimulate activity,” says Harrington. “Blue does just the opposite. That’s why we think of it as calming.”

Bathroom: For the bathroom, consultants say that one needs h=t have feelings of cleanliness and purity, and so whites and warm colors and great, although light-saturated cool tones like blue and green can work well too.

Workspace color: For a workspace, you need a color that enhances your productivity: the faster you complete work-related tasks, the better and for that, green can be a great choice for a home office or workspace.

It also enhances concentration, which is an added advantage.

Color therapy for depression

For people suffering from depression, reds and warmer colors in the day to day life may help, especially in the kitchen, as a common symptom of depression is Appetite loss, and these colors and thought to stimulate the appetite.

As blue is thought to be the color of depression, it may benefit these people to be away from these dark shades and try to be involved more with lighter shades like orange and reds.

When suffering from depression a person may also want to use cooler, darker shades in the bedroom, as it can stimulate good sleep.

Color therapy for depression has been developed over several decades in the twentieth century, on the principle that perception of color is different in depression.

Color therapy for depression operates on the principle that exposure to certain colors can bring about changes in our moods, and that by influencing the person’s exposure to color, we can alter their emotional state and make them feel better.

Color therapy is usually conducted by a trained professional and can be performed anywhere, even in one’s own home.

The Colors used typically in Color therapy are ones that can evoke positive emotional responses generally and include orange, blue, indigo, and violet.

Some other colors like red or yellow may also trigger emotions, but as those are responsible for higher energy and heightened emotional states, they are not used therapeutically very often.

The color orange is thought to symbolize the sun, and this color has been proven to treat depression by increasing attention and concentration, and it lowers feelings of dread.

Blue is the most common color used in color therapy, and it is reduce tension throughout the body and is thought to help with both anxiety and depression.

It is also used for a regular sleep cycle.

The color Indigo is another color used often in color therapy, due to its calming effect. It makes it a good choice for people with depression or anxiety.

While there is no scientific evidence for color therapy yet, most participants would say that the therapy was working.

It should not be looked at as the only measure of treatment but in conjunction with other things, it can be used to supplement the treatment quite effectively.


In this brief guide, we discussed the color of depression and explored some novel concepts like Color Psychology, Color Therapy and Color Perception.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Color of Depression

What is the color of sadness?

Blue is thought to be the color of sadness.

In addition, dark blue has also been seen as the color of depression.

Recently however even gray has been thought to be the color of sadness.

What colors are good for depression?

The color red is good for depression, and lighter shades of cool tones colors like blue and green are also good for depression.

As gray is seen as the color of depression, colors that are brighter and lighter in saturation are also good colors for depression.

In addition, Orange and yellow are also good colors for depression.

Is yellow a depressing color?

Yellow is not a depressing color but in large amounts, this color tends to create feelings of frustration and anger.

Usually in color therapy yellow is avoided as it can create very high energy and heightened feelings.

Is the color blue depressing?

The color blue is depressing in darker shades, but in lighter shades, it can actually be used in color therapy for depression.

What is the happiest color?

The happiest color is yellow, according to general norms, but according to color therapy, Orange is the happiest, most high energy color.

What is the most relaxing color?

The most relaxing color is thought to be light blue, closely followed by light green and other light shaded cooler colors.

Other relaxing colors are Violet, Pink, Green, and tan or beige.

What color improves mood?

The color that improves mood is Yellow and orange.
Additionally, bright, warm-toned colors like pink and red and pastel colors like peach, light pink, or lilac can also improve mood a lot.
Usually to improve mood, lighter and brighter colors are good.

What color are emotions?

Different emotions are different colors, like red for angry, yellow for happy, green for jealousy, blue or gray for depression.

Light blue or green colors can also be for calmness and relaxing heightened emotions.


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