Art in Action: Reduction Of Symptoms Of Stress And Depression In Adolescents

Topics: Art Therapy

High School students today have the same anxiety levels as insane asylum mental patients during the1950s. About 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health. Not to mention, that’s only covering Americans and not the entire global population. Experts suspect that these statistics are just scratching at the surface of what the true numbers are since most people tend to not seek help for anxiety and depression.

’The results of the study suggest that cases of depression will continue to increase in the coming decades, as anxiety tends to predispose people to depression,’ says psychologist and study author Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University. This is where Art therapy can come into play. As with any kind of therapy, it is generally used as a treatment for something physical or mentally– usually as a way to improve one’s emotional state or mental well-being.

Expressive arts therapy doesn’t have to be used only as a treatment though. It can be used as a safe unmediated way to relieve stress or tension, or it can be used as a mode of self-discovery. Many people can stand to use some sort of creative outlet. Whether it be music, a form of art, or a form of-of writing. Expressive art therapy is the use of creative arts as a form of therapy that has proven to work wonders in many people’s lives.

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It can help someone express themselves, explore their emotions, manage addictions, and improve their self-esteem. Art therapy can significantly reduce symptoms of stress and depression in teenagers today.

Art therapy can help with self-esteem. A problem with any age group, especially with the early ages of childhood, comes with self-confidence. If it’s not treated early enough, or given the type of support needed, it can blossom into something known as anxiety. Art therapy allows the individual to take a reign over their actions by being able to self-direct themselves and express emotions in a way that is appropriate and constructive in a learning curve where it builds character through enough practice. Not only that but new connections can be made with other individuals that carry the same type of luggage the other may have. Therefore, building a close enough bond and helping further develop a sense of communication skills. Overall, through this natural way of counseling, the person can feel more confident in him or herself and how they want to carry themselves in their community. This type of self-expression is highly important to those who chose nonverbal communication and prefer to keep it to themselves. It’s almost like baby steps in a way. Adding in little by little while simultaneously building a character with enough courage to open up. The impact of creating art and how the process can help build self-esteem has always been given a blind eye and taken for granted by professionals in the art industry and the same field. The major reason for this is to blame is the lack of understanding and research given to this area of study thus causing an oversimplified view in which self-esteem is loosely defined and considered to be a problem. A study was made using psychotherapy and art therapy as it’s put on in female juvenile offenders. The experimental study compared the impact of both treatments where participants were put into two separate therapy group interventions. One featuring art therapy and psychotherapy. Their self-esteem was measured in a questionnaire designed by the authors and the Harter Adolescent Self-Perception Profile. There were no significant differences in the questionnaire and both groups reported an increased feeling of mastery and connection with self-approval. There was something that particularly stood out though. The art psychotherapy group showed a significant increase in the closeness of friendship and behavioral conduct while the art therapy group did so in the area of social acceptance. This showcased an approach that can be selected to build greater trust and self-disclosure or to build group cohesion, based on client needs. All this coming together that Art therapy was fit to high standards and managed to shine a light in itself where it was proven it was as much a professional approach as the other was considered to be.

The healing power of art has alwillnessesays been long identified and used by artists as a coping mechanism to release any pent-up stress. Now in the modern time era, it’s finally being brought to the service on just how much empowerment it holds. It’s creating new avenues for self-expression by providing benefits for those who suffer from mental illnesses like severe depression. There’s a lot of evidence with art therapy helps in these fields, and finally, people are aware of the increased integration of art therapy within depression treatment. Artists of all colors and techniques have always known the healing benefits of art and it’s only been a few decades since art was welcomed to the world of psychotherapy. Depression is known to be deeply painful and such a struggle to carry in everyday lives. It robs you of joy and everyday gifts life can give you. It strips away the positive and leaves simply the negative outline. And most importantly, it silences your voice thus causing an inability to communicate your pain in healthy ways. For people with depression, art therapy represents a type of freedom. “Research has shown that art-making can have a profound impact on a person’s physical and psychological well-being,” says Marygrace Berberian, a clinical assistant professor of art therapy at New York University. Then, there’s a young woman in treatment at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, who preaches about it. While she sketches out the soaring towers of the Smithsonian castle under the watchful gaze of her art therapist, she exclaims, “It’s more about putting my emotions into the artwork than telling someone about it and making myself upset. I end up talking to [my therapist] about everything, once I’m drawing.” Though, sometimes people just don’t want to open up. It’s frightening to open up their minds and express what’s going on in their heads. Art therapy serves not only as a healthy type of expression but also a way that doesn’t always require verbal communication. “It can be difficult to open up to strangers about your deepest darkest emotions. Sometimes we are taught to suppress our emotions and put on a blank face, even when experiencing inner turmoil,” explains Douglas Mitchell, a marriage and family therapist. For many people going through depression and depressive moments, that art therapy provides a line of communication whether it be verbal or nonverbal. Overall, Art therapy allows to develop a sense of independence and self-efficiency, put a stop to unhealthy patterns, and develop a better coping mechanism.

So far, art therapy helps all age groups with self-confidence, and handle depression, but how about dealing with physical and mental disabilities? The basic point of art therapy and everything it helps for is by using creative media in a way to help the person recover from mental illness, trauma, and even substance abuse. According to the Foundations Recovery Network, “ For over 100 years, the field of art therapy is effective in helping individuals explore and express feelings and improve overall well-being.” Studies have shown that Art therapy can be very effective for a variety of conditions. Some benefit mentioned by the ATA is that it’s helped people who have medical, educational, developmental, and social problems. There’s a particular study that was done with Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. Researchers found that using art therapy managed stress and improved physical symptoms of the disorder. While writing exercises are usually given, art therapy was a way to reduce the intensity and frequent nightmares the veterans would experience usually every night. It managed to improve their sleep and reduce their startle response when they would wake up from slumber. Schizophrenic and bipolar patients have also experienced the benefits of art therapy. In a report issued by the British Medical Journal, art therapy was issued weekly sessions art therapy for an average of one year. “Participants in the study had a reduction in symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions, sustained for 24 months.” There’s also a report in Psychology Today on bipolar individuals who found changes in brain function during episodes due to the creative process of art in their treatment plan. It was even noted that people with mental illness often share similarities with highly creative individuals. An example is from a man named Sir Anthony Sher. Who was a former cocaine addict? He was mentioned in an issue of British weekly about his interview where he opened that he was addicted to cocaine for over twenty years. Then one day, he decided to start therapy in hopes to get rid of the hardcore deadly addiction. Thirteen years later, Sher has since been clean for thirteen years and continues doing art therapy. Not only that, but he also discovered that the treatment managed to take his stage fright away.

In conclusion, Art therapy can significantly reduce symptoms of stress and depression in teenagers today. Art therapy can be used as a safe unmediated way to relieve stress or tension, or it can be used as a mode of self-discovery. Many people can stand to use some sort of creative outlet. Whether it be music, a form of art, or a form of writing. Even though there are still arguments about how there are other outlets that are much more effective than Art therapy itself, there’s no denying the evidence this form of therapy has benefited many people of all ages. Finally, there is a treatment that is cost-friendly and safe to use, and no need for medication, or opening up to a stranger about your deepest darkest secrets. A type of therapy that many people do every day without themselves even knowing they’re doing it, to begin with. It’s finally time to give art therapy its deserved recognition and the values it’s done for the world for many, many, years. Not only can this type of therapy help with childhood development, but it’s also known to perform physically and both mentally, while others usually stick to one of those criteria and never both.

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Art in Action: Reduction Of Symptoms Of Stress And Depression In Adolescents. (2022, May 13). Retrieved from

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