Art Therapy and Depression Paintings – Cristina is Painting
Depression paintings
Art Therapy

Art Therapy and Depression Paintings

Believe it or not, art therapy and paintings can be a real help in treating depression. Many studies from prestigious universities around the world studied the value of depression paintings. The University of Gothenburg revealed that there is a clear effect of art therapy on cases of severe depression.

A group of 43 people participated in a series of art therapy session meant to improve their mental state. Parallel to this, a group of 36 patients was set to be the control group. All the patients in this study followed the regular medicinal treatment for depression.

The art therapy group worked with a specialist in art therapy and created simple exercises. They were invited to draw or paint how they felt and then try to explain what it represented. The results were very concluded.

Anxiety Painting by Cristina Iordache - 2014
Anxiety Painting by Cristina Iordache – 2014

The patients who worked on depression paintings improved and the symptoms like anxiety, sleep apnea, insomnia or emotional involvement diminished. Since depression affects 5% to 10% of people all the time, these studies are always welcome. Art therapy improved mental health overall.

Many famous artists and painters, at some point in their lives, worked on depression paintings. Many of these paintings were a form of art therapy for them. Expressing using a creative medium is always encouraged because it has many benefits. It moves the point of conscience focus so the patient is no longer overanalyzing their thoughts. The depression paintings boost self-esteem, imagination, and creativity.

Famous painters and the depression

Pablo Picasso and his Blue Period

A lot of famous artists were affected by depression, and Pablo Picasso has been one of them. During his famous Blue Period between the years 1901 and 1904, his depression paintings started with the terrible death of his close friend, Carlos Casagemas.

All the paintings he worked on during that time, featured blue and green tones, all maintaining a depressing atmosphere.  This tragic event felt even more intense with the other problems he has in his life.

The event behind the “La Vie” painting by Pablo Picasso is what triggered his depression and Blue Period. It’s a representation of his friend and somehow, even his guilt of not being able to support him during the darkest period of his life. However, his art and creation helped him overcome this dark period and create more cheerful paintings.

It’s a very puzzling painting and it’s meaning it’s still a bit of a mystery for everyone. Pablo Picasso never liked to explain his paintings stating that “A painting, for me, speaks by itself, what good does it do, after all, to impart explanations? A painter has only one language, as for the rest …”

Edvard Munch and his depression paintings

Edvard Munch is an expressionism Norwegian painter. His early artworks reflected some of his mental anguishes. One of the most popular depressing paintings he worked on is “The Scream”. Almost everyone knows this painting.

Edvard Munch - The Sick Child
Edvard Munch – The Sick Child

“The Scream” is a very powerful painting with a deep meaning behind it. It reflects his struggle with anxiety, panic, and depression. However, a lesser-known painting that is filled with sadness is “The Sick Child”. It depicts his younger sister suffering from tuberculosis. The fact that he worked on six versions of this painting between 1885 and 1926, shows that he struggled a lot with the death of his sibling. Later, in this life, he moved back home and his paintings focused more on natural landscapes and a more joyful atmosphere.

Depression paintings and their purpose

Art therapy and depression paintings should work hand in hand. The patient is able to reflect on his body perceptions and his senses. They can understand their emotions and work on healing their mind and soul.

There are many art therapy exercises you can do at home or with a therapist. Depression is not something to be ashamed of and should be treated like any other illness and taken care of properly. Creating depression paintings doesn’t mean you are focusing on the negative side of your mind more, but that you acknowledge the negative thoughts and work on healing them.



  • Anna

    When i hear about depression and paintings, it reminds me of an artists named Beksinski. He suffered from depression, and often painted his visions and nightmares on canvas. He’s not an impressionist but a surrealist, however, you should check out his artworks!