The link between creativity and depression

Jeoffrey Mukubi

BECAUSE creative people tend to be highly conscious, reflective and aware, it seems they are inclined to spend far more time thinking over their failures, fears, insecurities and disappointments than most people. As idealists with expansive imaginations, they can easily imagine lives lived differently, with far higher levels of achievement and satisfaction.

Also, if artists have a strong social consciousness, as many creative people do, they may spend a lot of time imagining possible solutions to social, political and economic problems in the world. Unfortunately, their dreamed-of solutions may not always be practical or feasible.

In short, creative people can become chronically frustrated because their idealism and reflective natures make it impossible for them to accept their own failures or those of society.

And that’s when it hits the fan.

It is clear that many artists all around the world are suffering from depression as many of them are verbal about it.

To be creative and find new and interesting solutions we need to think a lot. Going over things again and again in our minds is called ‘rumination’ and well rumination leads to depression when we are having negative thoughts or are self-critical.

So being a thinker, the very thing that means one is more prone to creativity, might also be the very thing that makes one more prone to depression.

But it is weird when you reverse the question and ask if it is true that to create good art we ‘need’ to be depressed? I mean Adele just got divorced from her husband and now she’s about to drop a new album in December.

I look at it this way, depression also involves rumination and eventually the rumination can lead to revelations, or the depression can just end. Both the relief and the excitement over the new level of understanding can cause a relief and a burst of new energy, it’s science.

So, it may not be all that bad to be depressed, just look at it as another challenge that can be overcome and that could possibly turn into a multimillion dollar recording contract right after you went through a depressing divorce with your husband.