The Link Between Depression and Creativity

March 22, 2023 Rachel Craft

As a writer, I’ve found creativity is one of the first things to be affected when my depression rears its ugly head. Depression makes it harder to motivate myself to write and harder to express my unique creative voice—the thing that brings me the most joy.

Many people don’t think of themselves as “creative” because they don’t practice art forms like writing or painting. But in fact, creativity is a key element in almost every job or hobby, from medicine and engineering to running a business and repairing cars. Creativity is what gives our daily tasks meaning, what makes them enjoyable, and what helps us grow. Unfortunately, when we have depression, our creativity takes a hit. 

Depression Dampens Creativity

Depression fills us with feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness. It saps our motivation. Activities that we used to be passionate about can suddenly seem unimportant, and through the haze of depression, it’s easy to forget how we used to feel about these activities.

Since we use creativity in all aspects of our lives, these effects can be far-reaching. Depression can make it hard to find the energy to work each day. By sucking the creative joy and meaning out of work, it can turn a formerly enjoyable occupation into a going-through-the-motion experience. Similarly, depression can sap the joy from our most cherished hobbies and pastimes. These activities usually help us escape from the stress of our daily lives and recharge after a long work week, but under the weight of depression, they can feel out of reach.

In my experience, this turns into a vicious cycle. When depression starts to take hold, I lose the motivation to exercise my creativity, and without that necessary creative outlet, my mood only gets worse.

Creativity Helps Fight Depression

That’s why I’ve learned to force myself to continue doing creative activities, even when depression makes it difficult. Creativity is one of the most important tools in my mental health toolbox. If I can force myself to do some creative activity while battling depression, it boosts my mood and helps me rise up out of that depressive episode

For me, this usually means writing. But there are many other ways to exercise your creativity, from cooking and gardening to building furniture and fixing cars. People with depression often find physical activity very therapeutic; I think creative outlets work similarly because they exercise our brains. They distract us, loosen the hold of depression’s negative thoughts and feelings, and help us rediscover joy.

I recommend finding your favorite creative outlet and turning it into a routine. Once you’re in the habit of doing something you enjoy every day or weekend, it’s easier to keep up the practice even when depression takes hold. Depression may make it harder to motivate yourself to be creative, but if you do it anyway, you’ll see how helpful it can be. 

APA Reference
Craft, R. (2023, March 22). The Link Between Depression and Creativity, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Rachel Craft

Find Rachel on Twitter and her personal blog.

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