A young woman does art therapy to help cope with depression.

How Art Therapy Can Help You Cope With Depression

Art therapy helps people with depression express and process their emotions by engaging in creative activities.


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How art therapy treats depression

Art therapy has been shown to be an effective way to treat depression. People can express and process their emotions nonverbally by engaging in creative activities such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. Art therapists can provide a sense of release, empowerment, and a way to explore and understand their feelings. Additionally, creating art in an art therapy session can be meditative and soothing, allowing people to relax and release tension and anxiety. Ultimately, art therapy can provide people with a new way to cope with and manage their depression.

Skills taught in art therapy for depression

Skills taught in art therapy for depression include:


The practice of being present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. In an art therapy session, people learn to stay focused on the process of creating art and observe their emotions without judgment.

Creative self-expression

Art therapy encourages people to express themselves through various art forms, such as painting, drawing, and sculpting. This allows them to communicate their emotions and experiences nonverbally.

Emotional regulation

Through art therapy, people can learn to identify and manage their emotions by using art as a self-soothing and stress-reduction tool. This skill helps people to cope with difficult emotions and regulate their moods.


Art therapy allows people to reflect on their artwork and explore the underlying meanings and symbolism. This process promotes introspection and self-awareness, leading to personal growth and insight.

Coping strategies

Art therapy teaches people to develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing depression symptoms. By working on a creative activity, people can channel their energy into a positive and constructive outlet, improving their overall well-being.


Art therapy facilitates communication between the person, the therapist, and peers in a group setting. Through art making, people can convey their inner thoughts and feelings, promoting a deeper understanding of their experiences.

Self-esteem building

Art therapy can help boost self-esteem by providing opportunities for people to create and succeed in their artistic endeavors. This can have a positive impact on their confidence and self-worth.

Stress reduction

Engaging in art-making can reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can be particularly beneficial for managing depression symptoms. Art therapy teaches people to use art for stress relief and emotional well-being.

Overall, art therapy equips people with valuable skills for managing depression, promoting self-discovery, and improving overall mental health.

Benefits of art therapy for depression

Art therapy has been shown to have significant long-term mental health benefits for depression. People who have engaged in regular art therapy sessions have reported reduced symptoms and an improved overall mood. Over time, the creative process of artistic expression can help people manage their emotions and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Additionally, working with an art therapist can provide a sense of self-expression and empowerment, leading to a greater sense of self-worth and overall well-being for people struggling with depression.

How quickly does art therapy work for depression? 

Art therapy can have an immediate impact on people struggling with depression. Through creative expression and self-reflection with an art therapist, people can experience a sense of relief and release from their symptoms. Many people find that engaging in art therapy sessions helps to improve their mood and shift their perspective, allowing them to better cope with their symptoms. Overall, art therapy can be a powerful tool in assisting people to manage depression.

How is medication used to treat depression?

Medication is often used to treat depression, with a few different classes of drugs available for managing symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce feelings of sadness. Another type of medication called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) also help balance these neurotransmitters’ levels. Additionally, tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used when other medications have not been effective in improving symptoms. Overall, when administered with the support of a licensed mental health or medical professional, medication can play an important role in helping people manage their depression and improve their quality of life.

Other types of treatments for depression

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their depression. Through structured sessions, a therapist helps a person develop coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

IPT focuses on improving communication and relationship skills, as well as addressing any conflicts or issues in a person’s relationships that may be contributing to their depression. This type of therapy helps people identify and navigate social and interpersonal factors that impact their mental health.

Mindfulness-based therapy

Mindfulness-based therapies, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), teach people to cultivate awareness of their thoughts and emotions in the present moment. By learning to be more present and accepting of their experiences, people can build resilience and reduce the impact of depressive symptoms.

Intensive outpatient program for depression

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is often used to treat people with depression who do not require round-the-clock care but still need a structured treatment plan. IOP provides a combination of therapy, counseling, and support groups to help the person manage their depression symptoms. Additionally, IOP may incorporate different treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and art therapy, to address the underlying causes of the person’s depression and develop coping skills. This approach allows the person to receive intensive treatment while still being able to maintain their daily responsibilities and routines.

Depression treatment with Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with depression, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including depression. Our expert clinicians incorporate art therapy into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing depression is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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