Depression is one of the fastest growing illnesses in the world. More than 300 million people suffer from the so-called ‘disease of modernity’ and scientists don’t expect this trend to stop anytime soon. On the contrary, contemporary lifestyle creates perfect preconditions for the growth of depression and anxiety.
However, depression is not exclusively terrible as it can also ignite inspiration in you. A lot of world-famous artists actually suffered from depression.
Depression can stimulate creativity because people often become more sensitive to art when experiencing strong emotions. But at the same time, the opposite is also true: artistic creativity can be a sign that a person is more likely to suffer from depression. That’s why our goal here is to describe five ways depression and creativity influence one another.
1. Depressed people are thorough analysts – A state of anxiety and sadness makes people more attentive and detail-oriented, which is the constituting element of high-quality art. Namely, we all remember bad situations more thoroughly than good times. When creative people face stressful life events, they tend to think about it a lot during more peaceful times, so they come up with new ideas eventually.
Aeschylus, one of the best writers of ancient Greece, famously stated: ‘Wisdom comes alone through suffering.’ This is probably the best way to describe how depression influences poets, painters, and other artists. Suffering, they are forced to look deep down into their souls – and that’s where their art comes from.
2. Creative people contemplate more often – It’s a well-known fact that creative people contemplate more often than other (less artistic) individuals. For them, the feeling of anxiety and depression lasts longer than usual because they don’t want to let go of any problem before they figure out a meaningful conclusion.
However, this is often impossible to achieve. Just think about problems like war or poverty and you’ll see that no one has ever been able to solve these problems. That’s why depressed individuals keep ruminating up to the point in which they express their thoughts in the alternative form: a painting or a sonnet, for example.
3. Depression forces us to improve – According to evolutionists, depression is only a natural way for the human race to detect its flaws and concentrate on improving these shortcomings. Our flaws make us angry and we would do anything to get rid of them. Looking at it from the standpoint of a creative person, it seems like depression forces artists to keep trying until they find a way to solve problems in a sophisticated technique or execution. They simply keep working and trying passionately to express their thoughts in a more efficient manner.
4. Depression is a motive – Nobody can function perfectly 365 days in a year. We all have behavioural oscillations and sometimes we just feel depressed, with or without a particular reason. But once you figure out the way to embrace this feeling, you can actually use it to take concrete actions both in your private and professional life.
This is also how creative people function. They suffer for hours, or days, or even months. But as soon as they learn how to deal with these emotions, they get a motive and encouragement to look at it through artistic lenses. They are ready to write about it, paint it, or conduct music dedicated to internal battles. For them, depression is the most common source of inspiration.
5. Art is relieving – Franz Kafka, the most influential novelist of the 20th century, dealt with psychological torment. Vincent Van Gogh was combating frequent episodes of depression and paralysing anxiety. Examples like these are countless in the history of culture and they all prove one thing – art is a relieving activity. It offers depressed people a sanctuary to hide from everyday pain and sorrow. It is their way to tell people that there is something very wrong with the world they live in. And what a beautiful way it is.
Nothing in this world is completely black or white. Things are usually somewhere in between and this is also where depression stands. Although it is generally considered to be a terrible feeling, it can inspire you to become more creative as an artist.
If you are experiencing anxiety issues yourself, try to embrace it as the source of inspiration. It will help you to get out of the hard times and perhaps even create your best life work. Bear this in mind: no pain no gain.
Olivia Ryan is a journalist who always tries to see the bright side of things. She likes to inspire people in her writings and to enjoy a mysterious beauty of twilight. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.