When Depression Strikes – Psychiatry Recommends Photography



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There are different forms of art therapies that are touted as effective in helping people deal with their mental health problems because these tools for artistic expression often provide a personal outlet to the individual who is suffering.


“Many people turn to therapy because they feel as though they are not functioning. Most people come feeling depressed or anxious and fear that they are defective.” Stacy Donn Cristo, LMHC said. While there are people who would instead choose the more technical types of treatment, there are those who are more into photography – a kind of art therapy that helps people communicate their thoughts and emotions non-verbally. Perhaps, it is for this particular reason that psychiatry and psychology professionals opt for this type of treatment. Since photography is personal, it shows therapists what a person thinks or feels through the pictures their clients take. Furthermore, photography’s cathartic effect makes it a popular choice for young adults who are suffering from mental health issues like depression.


How does photography help people cope with depression?



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Photography Nurtures Positive Thinking


As stated by Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC, “Feeling hopeless often leads to anger in men as opposed to the lethargy that can manifest in women. As a result, depression in men can be particularly hard to spot sometimes because it doesn’t look like we think it should.” Hopelessness and helplessness are common symptoms experienced by people with depression, which is why it is necessary to nurture a sense of positivity to counteract negative thoughts and emotions. Photography is a craft that requires focus and intense observation, which helps photographers intimately see and appreciate things that they’ve never noticed before.


In choosing what subjects to take images of, one tends to learn that there is hidden, modest beauty presented in one’s surrounding. Even those that used to be inconsequential become meaningful and essential to existence. Upon realizing the magnificence of the environment, people with depression who opted for photography as their therapeutic modality rebuild their positive attitude to fight the darkness within by understanding that everything has a purpose – even the leaf that fell from the tree has served its function. For most people who found happiness and created their bubble of positivity due to photography, the art did not just help them survive but also thrive despite their condition.


Photography Expands Your Support System


The great thing about discovering your passion is realizing that there are groups of people who are also into the things you do and who can help widen your horizons and enhance your knowledge and skills to be better with your craft. Photography is a great hobby to be part of a community.


One of the primary reasons why people succumb to depression is due to the feeling of being left out or alone. In this modern world, people have become a prisoner of their dreams. More and more are driven to fulfill their goals not noticing that life is quickly slipping by and the people who were once alongside them have vanished or have gone their separate paths.


As we mature into adults, it gets harder and harder to find people whom you can relate to or share hobbies with. For this reason, people with depressive symptoms find comfort in photography because of the vast community that welcomes them with open arms.


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Photography Reminds You That Life Is Meaningful


By gazing through the lens, photographers can capture impressive, emotional details that others are usually oblivious to. For people with depression, capturing something that fills their heart with joy is a huge deal because it is quite difficult for happiness to come around. Looking at printed images of photos they have taken makes them nostalgic and helps them remember that there was a moment in their lives that felt meaningful and blissful.


The best part about photography is that it not only enhances creativity and takes it a notch higher, but it also teaches people with depression the art of mindfulness.“Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines,” says Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC. Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that helps people achieve balance, and at the same time reduces stress.