Good news for depression sufferers – scientists have found that just ten sessions of art therapy may ease the severest of symptoms and even help some people get back into work.
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenberg studied the impact of an art therapy course on 43 adults with 'severe' or 'moderately severe' depression. Most were so affected by their symptoms that they were unable to work at the start of the study.
Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that encourages people to express their feelings through drawing, painting or other art techniques.
Each session began with a relaxation exercise, then participants were encouraged to draw their feelings using crayons and watercolours, before discussing what the images meant.
At the end of the course of ten hour-long sessions, the patients had improved an average of five steps on a rating scale used to understand depression. Factors measured included anxiety, sleep, ability to take initiative and emotional involvement.
Cristina Blomdal, PhD and qualified art therapist, said this represented a huge enough leap for some people to get back into work.
"Painting pictures based on themes and discussing the pictures with the art therapist promotes self-reflection and brain stimulation that takes place outside of the conscious mind," she explained.
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