The world of depression is, in fact, GREY

Generally, when a color is associated with an emotion, it is perceived to be a metaphor. However, it is not the same anymore. Colors truly represent emotions. The mental stability of an individual affects the way he/she perceives color. The same is the situation when they say ‘the world is dull to depressed people’ and ‘the world of depression is, in fact, grey.’ Depressed individuals face difficulty viewing contrast between the colors.


Researchers considered approximately 300 subjects for study regarding color perception and emotions. Depressed individuals, depressed individuals undergoing treatment or medication, and healthy individuals were a part of the experiment. They divided the participants into two groups. The first group watched a very sad clip from a TV series whereas the second group watched a clip from a stand-up comedy.

After they felt cheerful or gloomy based on the clip they watched, they interpreted colors in a few photographs. The first group had difficulties perceiving the color on the blue-yellow axis. Whereas, the second group had no issues. Depressed individuals who watched the sad clip observed very little contrast between the two colors. It looked greyed out for them. Whereas, depressed individuals who attended the stand-up clip also perceived less contrast but better than the former group.

Depression is mostly related to the color blue; whereas, yellow represents happiness. Hence, the blue slang. The phrases like ‘feeling blue’ or ‘getting the blues’ are often used in depression quotes expressing extremely calm feelings.

Therapists use this phenomenon as a clinical diagnosis for the state of depression. The clinicians check out for the color the individuals perceives to determine whether he/she is depressed. It can be used as a standard to report whether the individual is responding to the medication positively or negatively.

What is the reason for the different perceptions of depression?

Neurotransmitter Dopamine is one of the reasons for this impairment. Dopamine is the reward center of the brain. It is responsible for the sense of satisfaction or pleasure. Dopamine addiction makes people’ want more’. Smoke or a drink can trigger its release. It is also responsible for the feeling of wanting to play a game a lot more times after a win.
Besides, dopamine is also responsible for visual perception. It plays a role in the signaling processes in the retina of the eye. This deficit is a consequence of dopaminergic pathways impairing blue-yellow judgment. Weak color perception in ADHD is also a consequence of this deficit.

What can be the treatment for depression?

Bright colors are a treatment(phototherapy) for depression, especially the Seasonal affective disorder. It is related to a type of sadness due to the seasonal changes. Phototherapy or light therapy works on the principle of compensating for lack of sunlight exposure. The duration of the sessions depends on how well the client handles the exposure. One theory to understand its mechanism is that it enhances the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a feel-good hormone. Other theories also suggest the placebo effect as the mechanism of action.

Paintings depicting depression

Art is the best way to express one’s emotions. There are various artists whose art represents their state of mind.
Vincent Van Gogh is a very famous artist and is well known for the painting of ‘wheat fields with crows.’ The art is perfect on the lower end with a bright yellow field, whereas, on the other half, the sky is a menacing grey-black color with a large population of crows in the sky. It is one of his last paintings before he committed suicide. The art also suggests he suffered from a severe case of depression and suicidal thoughts. It is one of the scariest paintings.

Jackson Pollock is a man of abstract paintings. He suffered depression for an extended period of his lifetime. He also attended therapy sessions as a part of his treatment. His emotions are very intense. To relieve all the stress, he started consuming alcohol and soon became a victim. Most of his paintings depict his depressive, alcoholic character. Over time, he gave up painting altogether.

Related: How your brain reacts when you see crush and when in love

Post a Comment