This article will discuss the link between depression and creativity. It will discuss how one can impact the other, and what are the ways to get the most out of your creativity, even when you are depressed.
How can I prevent myself from losing creativity when I am depressed?
There are some ways you can keep your creative side active, even though you are experiencing depression. You can do it by positive self-affirmations. Those will have a positive impact on you.
You might sit down and write 20 things you consider positive about yourself. If it is hard to imagine, think of 20 things people may say about you, and repeat those to yourself daily. Doing that before putting your creativity to work will help you to feel more prepared for it.
Being depressed can also change your sense of purpose, it can seem overwhelming to keep active on things you did before. But a good way to handle this situation is by letting your brain and heart communicate.
You should let your thoughts and feelings guide your actions, and you will be able to do something creative that touches your soul.
And finally, you can’t stop thinking about the negative aspects of things. When you are depressed, your mind tends to go directly to what is the worst that could happen. This overthinking can consume so much energy, that will not allow you to just let things flow.
Let your emotions pass through you, creatively externalize them, and if they are authentic, they will surely be understood by others.
The connection between creativity and depression
It is often common to think that depression or other mental health conditions can be related to creativity. So many great artists struggled with mental health, that it seems there is a direct link to it.
Van Gogh, a famous painter, talked to people around him about how he felt. He would write to his brother that he felt an intense melancholy, and have atrocious moments of remorse, along with periods of intense anxiety. The painter later took his life in 1890.
Not only he but many other creative minds were also troubled by mental illness. Frida Kahlo, Silvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Edvard Munch, and Charles Dickens to say the least. But studies are still trying to find the connection between creativity and depression.
It is still unsure if being more creative can make you depressed, or if being depressed makes you more creative. But it seems that some mood disorders are more connected to creativity than others.
A study done by Taylor, in 2017, showed that people with Bipolar disorder were more connected with creativity, but not so much with people that had a persistent depressive disorder.
Aside from that, the study discovered that people with major depressive disorder, which is usually more intense than persistent depressive disorder, are usually more creative.
This is an interesting finding since their intensity of them varies. But it seems that since persistent depressive disorder lasts for a prolonged period, going on for more than 5 years sometimes, it can make people less creative.
But even though this study has shown how people with Bipolar disorder and Major depression can be more creative, there is no sign that the disorder is what causes them to be more creative. But the heaviness that comes from working in the creative field, with deadlines, many trips, and high expectations can make artists depressed.
But when looking through the emotions, it is known that creative people tend to think over their actions more frequently. It is from that they get the inspiration for doing their work. So it is possible to say that creatives tend to ruminate.
And rumination is a common manifestation of depression. It can cause people to think so hard about what has happened to them, that this negative spiral of thought can cause sadness, isolation, and other symptoms of depression.
Through that, it is possible to set a relationship in which being creative makes it easier for people to develop depression.
With that, it is possible to say that depression, or other forms of mental illness, can cause symptoms that are quite often in creative people as well. Let’s discuss what they are.
The similar manifestations of creativity and mental illness
According to Taylor’s research, creativity and mental illness can manifest in similar manners, so what people may see as a sign of mental illness can be a sign of creativity, and the same is true the other way around.
In some cases, both can cause people to be hypomanic, which can make them need less sleep or food, and have a fast line of thought. Along with that, in both, it is possible to see high levels of focus and concentration in one determined matter, with a distorted sense of time.
The author says that in some research for mood disorders, the investigations around its symptoms may overlap with the signs of creativity, making it hard to separate one from the other. So that is why it is still not sure about the relationship between the two conditions.
And even though the link between them remains a mystery, over recent years many forms of art interventions have been used to help people cope with depression. Let’s learn more about it.
How to use creativity in a positive manner
Although it is still hard to have a clear connection between creativity and depression, it is a known fact that creativity can help people cope with mental illness, even depression.
Art therapy, which is a form of treatment that offers the person to change their sense of well-being through art-making, creative process, and human experience, can have a positive effect on the lives of people handling mental illness.
Not only that, music therapy, which focuses on using music to reach the goal of each patient, by reducing their stress level, improving their mood, and self-expression has been highly prescribed to help people with mental illness.
Those, along with writing about past traumatic events can help you to a point that it can even boost your immune system. So even though there is still a lot to learn about this matter, it is safe to say that if you are going through depression, turning on your creative side can help you deal with it.
But it can seem hard to not lose your creativity when you are depressed. The lack of motivation, the loss of interest in everything when you are depressed, can make it hard to be creative. But here are some ways you can keep it working.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Does depression affect my creativity?
How can I get my creativity back?
When you feel like you have lost your creativity, there are some ways you can get it back. You can do that by taking some time away. Take a break and do other things you love. Making yourself creative by force will only have a negative effect.
After you spend some time away, it might be easier to look at things from a new perspective. Find other methods to express your creativity, and create a plan around it. Keep exercising, since the activity can put you in touch with new thoughts and feelings. Not only that, it will reduce your stress level, avoiding you from burning out.
Be in touch with creative things, through reading, movies, and don’t worry, because it will come to you. Once you get a creative spark, center yourself on your work, and eliminate all the distractions you may have. If you feel it is necessary, even change your environment.
That can be important not only to take away the distractions but also to allow yourself to experience new scenery. And finally, when working with creativity, you should always be persistent. Have in mind that it is also related to practice, and with time you will get better.
Does being creative decline with age?
Yes, creating chances and declines over time. It has been shown that creativity increases in the mid-20s, and reaches its peak in the middle 30s until the early 40s. But when they reach their 80s, their level of creativity will be about half what they had when they were at their peak.
Although it is said that people’s creativity will go down from their mid-40s, it is still possible to see people in their 60s and 70s that have experienced peaks of creativity and did remarkable things in that period of their lives.
Are people born and made creative?
It is always a question if people are born creative or if they turn into it. It seems that great artists, even though they have tried, were never able to pass on that great creative strike to other people. This may cause us to understand that there is a huge aspect of creativity that is born in the person.
But they can also be taught. If you put an artist in an isolated space, without any interaction with people, nature, or the world, they might be unable to find any inspiration to do their work.
They need to be in touch with others to be able to put that creative muscle to work. With that said, it is possible to say that creativity is a combination of work and natural talent.
How to get better after creative burnout?
If you got burned out, and your creativity is suffering, you might want to understand your limitations. Don’t try to push more out of you than you can. Say no to projects that you can’t relate to, or that will drain you.
This will help you keep your energy to yourself. If you use your creativity to work, finding a new outlet for it that is completely different may put your creativity to work but without the demands of a job. This will fill you up creatively.
And finally, as you start a new project try to set a plan for it, and give yourself a strict but also realistic deadline.
How can I feel more confident about my art?
If you are an artist, sometimes it can be hard to value your work. But to become more confident you may want to stop comparing yourself to others, and expecting too much of yourself.
It is also important to learn how to deal with rejection, and work, little by little, on boosting your confidence.
This article discussed how your creativity and depression may be linked. Along with that, it explained ways that this connection can be used positively.
If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.
Taylor, C L. Creativity and Mood Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2017 Sept 21, doi.org/10.1177/1745691617699653.