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What can you draw when depressed? (9 depression drawing ideas)

Amanda Knowles

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In this blog post, we will answer the question “what can you draw when depressed?”. We will also address the importance of using art and art journals in expressing feelings and look at various drawing ideas in depression. We will also broadly discuss the signs that you are severely depressed and the link between depression and creativity.

What can you draw when depressed?

When you are depressed, you can draw the following:

  • Draw your favourite things
  • Draw things that make you happy
  • Draw what is going on in your life
  • Draw animals or people you love
  • Draw things that make you sad or frustrated
  • Draw yourself
  • Draw portraits
  • Draw your depression
  • Draw your feelings

In psychology, drawing is classified under art therapy, which is the umbrella that covers all visual arts that are used in psychology. Before looking at art therapy, techniques used in art therapy and its benefits, let us explore a bit more about depression.

What is depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by a persistent low mood and loss of interest in activities that affect our day-to-day activities. The causes of depression can be biological, psychological, or social factors. These factors alter brain function and repress crucial neurotransmitters that control our moods.

Warning signs that you are severely depressed

  • Persistent low mood
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Hopelessness and helplessness
  • Change in eating and sleep patterns
  • Suicidal thought and ideation
  • Isolation
  • Unexplained physical symptoms
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability and moodiness

Depression affects how you think and behave and manifests into emotional, physical, and psychological problems. 

Art therapy

 Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that allows free expression of feelings and thoughts through visual arts that are drawing, painting, or modelling. It is rooted in the idea that free expression fosters mental wellbeing and healing. In the 1940s, art was used by doctors who had mental issues in expression and treatment.

Art therapy, therefore, became an important aspect of the therapeutic process and was formalized. Apart from art therapy, there are other creative therapies that are widely used in treating depression and other mental issues. They include;

  • Dance therapy
  • Expressive therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Writing therapy

Techniques used in art therapy

The techniques used in art therapy include all materials and resources that will help in improving your moods, enhance self-awareness, cope with stress and realize new positive coping mechanisms. They include;

  • Working with clay
  • Sculpting
  • Drawing
  • Photography
  • Collage
  • Colouring
  • Doodling
  • Scribbling
  • Painting
  • finger painting

How effective is art therapy?

  • It helps to reduce symptoms of depression and trauma in adults
  • It helps in the treatment of mental conditions of children who are not verbally expressive
  • Helps improve the quality of life in patients under treatment for terminal illnesses like cancer
  • It improves self-esteem in children, adults and people living in nursing homes

Depression drawing ideas

It can be very challenging to create something good on purpose when you are having symptoms of depression. It can also be very difficult to find inspiration and motivation for new drawings when your mood is very low. However, there are many drawing ideas available that can help you get started in lifting your mood and be able to express yourself despite the emotional state that you are in.

We will look at a few of these great ideas from a formerly depressed artist. Note that when coming up with new drawing ideas, do not focus on those that can trigger self-harm and suicide, as they will be counter-productive. Instead, focus on drawings that will encourage and will give you hope.

They include:

Draw your favourite things

These will help uplift your mood when you are feeling very low. You can draw flowers, trees, rivers, mountains etc if you are a nature lover. Draw your favourite pet. Drawing your favourite thing will not only help uplift your mood but also give you new ideas of things to do, and places to go that will be a positive distraction. 

Draw what is going on in your life

This is called observational drawing, and it is the process of drawing what is happening around you. It can be challenging, but very rewarding. It helps you focus on your thoughts and also on the people around you.

Observational Drawing will help you get an insight into your thoughts and feelings and also in problem-solving. 

Draw things that make you angry and frustrated

Draw yourself, conquering the things that make you angry or frustrated. This will not only improve your mood but will also provide insight into the things that make you depressed and device ways of conquering those things tying you down.

Draw people or animals that you love

This works great for children with depression. It helps the therapist identify the child’s support system. The same concept also works for adults. This will help you remove the attention from the depressed feelings and instead start finding solutions, i.e., realizing the positive support network around you.

Draw things that make you happy

These can include wonderful memories that make you thrilled. These will help keep positive memories alive and also challenge you to find activities that will trigger the same kind of feeling.

Draw what you are afraid of

This works as exposure therapy. It will help you face your fears head-on. Being aware of our fears helps us come up with ways to overcome them.

Draw your goals

Vividly putting your goals on paper increases the chances of success on those specific goals. It makes you get committed to achieving them despite the challenges you are going through. They will also give you the will to live as they are symbols of good times ahead.

Drawing your goals will give you a renewed energy to come out of your depressive phase stronger.

Draw your depression

We learn that the first step to treating depression or any mental illness is to accept that we are sick. Drawing your depression will help you acknowledge that depression is real. You have it and will help you take control. You don't have to show this drawing to anyone, but putting it out there can be liberating and gives you a good feeling when you are not hiding or running from it.

Draw self-portraits

A self-portrait is an excellent way to express how you view yourself. A great idea to draw your self-portrait is one that depicts your strengths and weaknesses that make you unique. Magnify your positive aspects.

You can use your favourite colours to note down your strengths inside your portrait. This will not only improve your mood but also increase your self-esteem.

What to do if you are too depressed to draw

There is no right or wrong way to express yourself through drawing. You can sit and stare at an empty blank sheet of paper, doodle on the page, play with colours or try something creative. The most important thing is to ‌ do something that you really like and one that will improve your mood.

You can seek inspiration elsewhere, take care of yourself, reach out to someone, change the way you think about your art, and be mindful of your expectations. Tips To Deal With Depression As An Artist will explore these points ‌.

Ways drawing helps to manage depression

Can be calming and soothing

Drawing distracts you from the depressive feelings of hopelessness and despair and gives you peace as you bring your ideas to life.

Is a problem-solving tool

Drawing can help you devise ways of finding solutions to your problems. Drawing yourself by conquering your problems can help you get an insight into the solutions you have within yourself.

Helps in self-expression

Drawing is a great tool for people who bottle up emotions and those who cannot express their feelings verbally. Being able to express feelings is in itself fulfilling and reduces the burden of negative thoughts and emotions weighing down on you.

Helps the mind to focus on productive and positives

Drawing things you love and those that make you happy breaks the chain of rumination which is a precipitant to depression. Focusing on productive things also rejuvenates your energy to get things done.

It boosts self-esteem

Depression makes you feel useless and unproductive. Accomplishing a simple task like drawing is fulfilling. It acts as a window for you to try out other things to get the feeling of accomplishment gotten from drawing.

Why do people draw better when they are depressed?

Research has shown that people tend to be more creative when they are sad. A professor at Columbia University, Modupe Akinola, wrote that sadness and negative emotions lead to creativity. In her research, people who good negative feedback on their presentations got better collages and drawings.

It is believed that sadness makes us more attentive to detail and alert. It also makes us more diligent and focused. Happiness, on the other side, makes it less likely for us to get insight. Art requires a lot of focus and persistence.

Conclusion

This blog has explained ‌the depression drawings that can help you manage depression. We have also noted the benefits of drawing when you are depressed. We have lightly touched on what depression is and the warning signs of severe depression.

The blog has helped us understand art therapy ‌and the techniques used in art therapy. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask questions in the comments section below.

Frequently asked questions: things to draw when you are depressed

Is drawing good for depression?

Yes, expressing your emotions through art can help ease symptoms of depression. It is also helpful in improving memory and developing positive coping mechanisms for depression.

What should I draw when I am sad?

You can draw something that makes you happy, people, places and things that you love and repetitive patterns. Mandals are great repetitive patterns that can help calm you. You can also draw things that symbolize peace or strength.

What objects represent depression?

Images that depict sadness capture darkness, struggles, despair, death and loss of control. Examples include skulls, ravens, barren landscapes, tears and fear.

What flowers represent depression?

Lilies are known as flowers of sadness. They are mostly associated with death and funerals.

Citations

Cherry K., (2021, August 31). What is art therapy? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-art-therapy-2795755

Guest author (2018, July 10).  Creativity and Recovery: The Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.rtor.org/2018/07/10/benefits-of-art-therapy/#:~:text=Studies%20suggest%20that%20art%20therapy,complex%20feelings%20and%20find%20relief.

Optimistminds, Too depressed to draw? (Tips to deal with depression as an artist). Retrieved from https://optimistminds.com/too-depressed-to-draw/

Wasted Talent Inc, 9 Easy Depression Drawing Ideas – by a formerly depressed artist. Retrieved from https://wastedtalentinc.com/depression-drawing-ideas/

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Amanda Knowles

Amanda Knowled is an Applied Psychologist, with a deep interest in psychopathology and neuropsychology and how psychology impacts and permeates every aspect of our environment. She has worked in Clinical settings (as Special Ed. Counselor, CBT Therapist) and has contributed at local Universities as a Faculty member from time to time. She has a graduate degree in English Literature and feels very connected to how literature and psychology interact. She feels accountable and passionate about making a "QUALITY" contribution to the overall global reform and well-being. She actively seeks out opportunities where she can spread awareness and make a positive difference across the globe for the welfare of our global society.