Depression Colors (+ what they mean)

In this blog post, we will gain insight into depression colors, and in the context of our homes. We will understand the associations between color in architecture and mental health followed by depression and lowered color perception. Lastly, We will understand the effects of color on mental states, how it is used in therapy, and research on color psychology. 

Depression Colors

Different colors influence our feelings in different ways. This association is what color psychology deals with; studying colors with respect to human emotions and behaviors in everyday life. Although much of it is subjective, there are certain proven aspects to it.

There are some colors that make us feel sad, depressed, melancholic, and the like. Some other colors make us feel calm, tranquil, at peace, and relaxed. This is an element of color psychology and excellently exemplifies how color influences our mental states. 

Emotions evoked by colors are determined by several factors, including the brightness of the color, its shade, tone, and if it is a cool tone or a warm tone. 

While warm colors elicit a sense of hope, joy, energy, and optimism, cooler tones bring about sadness. Warm colors are associated with positive moods and cool-toned colors with negative moods. 

Depression colors are those that are dark and muted, such as shades of black and grey. They elicit feelings of sadness and depressing emotions. Further, neutral colors are also ones that can release such responses. 

Depression Colors in Our Surroundings

Have you ever felt that you feel more at peace in certain surroundings while sadder in some? Have you chosen a color for your bedroom walls because of the way it makes you feel? Have you ever bought something in a particular color because it makes you feel relaxed or happy?

All of these things happen because of the impact colors have on our psychological well-being. Let us gain insight into several colors and the emotions they evoke. 

Grey 

Grey is a depression color. Too much of this color causes unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, social withdrawal, and depressive feelings. It is also related to detachment or neutrality. 

One study evaluated the association between colors and depression. They reported that individuals who claimed grey to be their favorite color or as the one that struck their mind first scored the highest on Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI) in comparison to others.

Black

Black is commonly associated with sadness and fear. In western societies, people wear black clothes while attending funerals, and is typically related to times of grief and mourning. 

Black is also perceived to be intimidating and unapproachable as it is associated with power. Many witches and villains in pop culture are clad in black to seem evil.

Brown

This shade is often associated with being sad, loneliness, and withdrawal owing to its darkness.

Green 

Green has the effect to calm and soothe people, helping with anxiety and depression. Too much green can make a person lethargic, depressed, and mody, while very little green leads to indifference.

Blue 

Shades of light blue evoke calmness and a sense of spirituality. Dark blue tones, on the other hand, create a feeling of detachment and coldness. Even too much blue can elicit feelings of apathy, indifference, and can bring down your spirits. Too little blue may cause a sense of suspicion, adamance, untrustworthiness, and timidity. 

Beige 

Being a neutral tone, it makes one feel drab, sad, bored, and gloomy. a neutral color. It is primarily used in the background and not foreground. Too much of this shade can elicit negative emotions. 

Purple 

Purple is typically related to spirituality, harmony, calmness, peace, and contentment. It also enhances sensitivity, boosts creativity, and increases imaginative thinking. 

However, dark purple could make you feel sad, frustated or gloomy. Excessive amounts of purple can make you feel irritated, impulsive, arrogant, and impatient. Too little of the tone might bring about a sense of powerlessness and indifference.

While decorating your house, you can bear in mind these effects to ensure wise choices are made. Try to make choices that lift your mood up. 

Color in Architecture and Mental Health

Although there is not enough scientific literature to support the effects of color on one’s mental health, this concept has been used in architecture for a long time. Several colors elicit different emotions and play a role in psychological stress and even depression. Such impact on psychological well-being is of interest to architects and designers. 

The influence of color on mental states has been looked into by architects and designers in various aspects, including attempts to increase productivity and making people’s emotional health better. 

Red is usually related to reduction of depression, increase in anger and appetite. Blue is related to a feeling of protection and productivity. Puple is known for improving creative senses and improving problem-solving abilities; green with unity, peace, and decision-making; orange with hope and optimism.  

These influences are not restricted to solitary colors. For instance, intensely saturated colors negatively impact stress levels. A monotonous spectrum of colors can lead to irritability and obsessive thinking. 

Depression and Lowered Color Perception

People commonly ask those who are depressed to “brighten up” or associate depression with shades of black and grey. It has been shown that people with depression report that their vision is not as efficient or perceptive to contrast as it was prior to being depressed.

Dr. Emanuel Bubl, in his research, found that the retina of depressed people had lower sensitivity to contrasts in colors. 

Bubl and his co-workers measured perception of contrast with a test known as pattern electroetinogram (PERG). It is a safe, objective, and quantitative way of measuring retinal functional loss and recovery. The result is similar to the tracing of an electrocardiogram (ECG). 

The researchers reported a significant relation between the severity of the depression and a lowered score on the PERG. This relationship indicated that the more severe the depression, the less the retinal response to visual contrasts. 

These findings suggest a scientific backing to a cultural relationship between depression and color. 

The research also has important implications in the clinical setting. Depression entails non-specific physical (e.g., sleep and weight patterns) and subjective mental manifestations. Response changes in PERG could indicate an objective means of diagnosis for depression, which would be incredibly helpful for clinicians, researchers, and even patients. 

Such hypotheses could enable research into the causes of depression and even novel therapeutic interventions.

Therefore, it has come to light that depression can alter how patients view the world. This view could make the condition worse, prolonging the feelings of sadness and loneliness.  

Effects of Color on Psychology

Although color perception may be different for different individuals, there are certain effects that are common to most people.

Colors such as red, yellow, and orange are warm tones, which make us feel emotions that bring us warmth and provide comfort to hostile and angry emotions. Cool colors such as blue, green, and purple, bring about calmness but also melancholic or apathetic feelings.

Use of Color in Therapy

Chromotherapy (also known as colorolgy or light therapy) is the usage of colors in the healing process. This intervention was used in many ancient Chinese and Egyptian cultures. 

This process is utilized as an alternative or holistic intervention. Following is a list of colors and their corresponding uses:

  • Indigo

Alleviate skin issues;

  • Blue

Alleviate pain;

  • Orange 

Increase energy levels, and heal the lungs;

  • Yellow

Nervous stimulation and body detoxification;

  • Red

Bodily and mental stimulation and increase of circulation;

Current Research

Researchers today are skeptical of the use of color in therapy. Moreover, differences in culture can lead to differences in interpretaitons of colors. 

In most cases, the changes in mood owing to color is transient. For example, a room with blue walls may evoke calmness initially but these feelings may fade over time.

With that said, existing literature shows the influence of color on different people in many different ways, including:

  • One study reported that placebo pills of warm colors were more effective than those of cool colors;
  • Black uniforms have a higher probability of being penalized. Moreover, students more often attribute negative characteristics to players clad in black.
  • The color red makes people respond with more vigor and speed, which might be helpful in sport events.
  • Blue streetlights decrease crime rates, according to some people. 

Conclusion

In this blog post, we understood depression colors in detail, and even in the context of our surroundings. This knowledge would help us make excellent choices while painting our houses. We then saw the associations between color in architecture and mental health. 

Further, we understood the role of depression in decreased perception to color contrasts. Finally, we gained insight into the effects of color on mental states, how it is used in therapy, and current research.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions: Depression Colors

What are a few depression colors?

Cool colors like blue, green, and purple are considered depression colors. Red, yellow, and orange are warm colors that evoke a sense of warmth. However, responses to color are usually subjective in nature.

Is there an ideal color for depression?

Red is often related to reducing depressive feelings, increasing appetite and anger. Orange is associated with optimism; green with harmony and effectiveness; blue with protection; and purple with creativity and problem-solving abilities.

What is the color associated with mental illness?

Blue is associated with mental illness. Many people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder gave blue as their first choice.

Which color can help with stress?

Green and blue help with stress. Blue is great for dealing with stress as it is intensely calming. Green calms and soothes people. It brings about a sense of unity, harmony, and reduces anxiety. Additionally, violet tones display wisdom, tranquility, and strength.

Is it true that yellow is a depression color?

Yes, many people associate yellow with depression. This color evokes frustration and anger in some, and even infants typically cry more in rooms with yellow walls and decor.

Which is the saddest color?

Grey is the saddest color. Colors like black and grey, which are dark and muted, are sad colors.

Is pink a depression color?

No, pink is not a depression color. Pink is a color that elicits calmness, love, femininity, and kindness. Bright pink can be stimulating and sometimes, provocative.

Which color induces anxiety?

Grey is typically associated with anxiety, while yellow is often chosen as the preferred color by happier people. 

Which color can bring relief to anxiety?

Blue is the color that brings relief to anxiety, evokes calmness, lowers blood pressure, and reduces heart rate. To reduce anxiety and bring about tranquility, choose a place with blue and blue-green, and sit in a quiet, relaxing place with shade.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

https://www.namhpac.org/7-sad-colors-at-home-that-affect-your-mental-state/

https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/blog/the-links-between-colour-architecture-and-mental-health

https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/07/21/decreased-perception-of-color-in-depression/15826.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824

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