Can Adult Coloring Books Help with Depression?
The explosion in popularity of adult coloring books caught us all off guard. Originally thought of as a passing fad, the adult coloring craze has kept busy publishers struggling to keep up with increasing demand. Amazon currently boasts over 3,000 adult coloring book titles – some of which claim regular spots on their bestseller lists. Have people around the world suddenly become artistic or overly nostalgic? Maybe some, but for most of us, coloring is therapeutic and gives us respite from worries, pain, grief and even depression.
The Mandala and Depression?
Carl Jung, arguably one of the most important psychiatrists of the 20th century, became fascinated with the mandala, a graphic symbolic image, typically circular in shape.
He referred to the mandala as “the psychological expression of the totality of the self.” His basic theory was that the center of the mandala represented the psyche, or the self. The encircling patterns flowing outward make up the chaotic components of the mind. This chaos could represent passion or love or conversely, self-doubt, fears, and a whole host of other psychological issues. It is the disharmony and disorganization of these contrasting feelings that create imbalances and disorder in our brain. Jung postulated that coloring the complex and rhythmic patterns of the mandala helped restore balance and reduce internal conflict. As Jung stated, "The severe pattern imposed by a circular image of this kind compensates the disorder and confusion of the psychic state—namely, through the construction of a central point to which everything is related."
Depression and the French???
This is not an oxymoron. Once known for their “Bon Vivant” attitude, a surprising number of French citizens suffer from extreme and unrelenting stress. In fact, in a 2011 study, the World Health Organization announced that 21% of the French people (the highest percentage worldwide) have admitted to having at least one extended period of debilitating depression. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-07-26/france-u-s-have-highest-depression-rates-in-world-study-suggests
Furthermore, the French are also the largest consumers (per capita) of antidepressants, tranquilizers, antipsychotics and sleeping pills.
In 2012, French based publisher Hachette Pratique’s released “Art-thérapie: 100 coloriages anti-stress,” the first in a series of adult coloring books marketed toward the stressed out, unhappy Parisian. The books flew off the shelves and have sold in excess of three and a half million copies worldwide. In fact, adult coloring books in France are now selling faster than cookbooks!! Wine, cheese and coloring!!
Depression v. Coloring: And the Winner is….
Of course no one is suggesting that coloring is a magic cure for depression, but it can certainly have positive and therapeutic benefits. When someone is fighting depression, normal daily activities can suddenly seem overwhelming. The individual typically can go through the motions of living, but oftentimes the person is distracted and not mentally present. Some withdraw from society, their family and friends by staying home or in bed. One scientist notes that coloring is the opposite of depression. People who color are forced to be fully present, engaged, and mentally absorbed. It becomes almost impossible to brood over past mistakes, or worry about the future. The negative feelings start to fade away, which produces a calming and meditative-like effect and all the positives that come with it. Check our bestselling series “Color Me Happy,” “Color Me Calm,” and “Color Me Stress Free.” on our website coloringbookzone.com.
So pick up a coloring book for depression, grab some markers or pencils (yes, even the “blues”) and Live Your Life in Color!