There has long been a popular belief that creativity and mental health are linked. Many famous artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people throughout history have had a reputation for being “tortured geniuses” or struggling with mental health issues. But is there really a connection between creativity and mental health? Let’s explore the evidence.
Mental health also has an undeniable correlation with creativity; in fact, there is a strong link between them. Just think of it this way: We are our most creative selves when we feel the most like ourselves. If you are included in the 21% of adults in the United States who currently experience a mental health condition, you likely feel this on a spiritual level.
Many famous creative people have spoken about their struggles with mental health. For example, Vincent van Gogh famously cut off his own ear and was hospitalized several times for mental health issues. Sylvia Plath, the poet and writer, struggled with depression and ultimately died by suicide. Kurt Cobain, the frontman of the band Nirvana, also died by suicide after struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
These examples, and many others like them, suggest that there may be a link between creativity and mental health. However, anecdotal evidence is not enough to prove a causal relationship.
Several studies have been conducted to explore the connection between creativity and mental health. One study published in the Journal of Creative Behavior found that people who scored high on a test of creativity also tended to score high on a test of schizotypal personality traits, which are associated with certain mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.
Another study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that people with bipolar disorder were more likely to work in creative professions than those without the disorder. The study also found that those with bipolar disorder tended to score higher on measures of creativity.
A third study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found that people with depression tended to score higher on measures of creativity than those without depression. However, the study also found that people with depression tended to have lower levels of motivation and energy, which may affect their ability to be creative.
While these studies suggest a link between creativity and mental health, they do not prove causation. It is possible that people with certain mental health conditions are more likely to be creative, but it is also possible that the reverse is true – that engaging in creative activities may help to improve mental health.
The Benefits of Creativity for Mental Health
Regardless of whether creativity causes or is caused by mental health conditions, there is evidence to suggest that engaging in creative activities can be beneficial for mental health. For example:
- Art therapy has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
- Writing about traumatic experiences has been shown to improve mental health outcomes for people with PTSD.
- Engaging in music therapy has been found to be beneficial for people with depression and anxiety.
- Engaging in any type of creative activity, such as painting, drawing, writing, or crafting, can be a form of self-expression and can help to reduce stress and improve mood.
While the connection between creativity and mental health is not fully understood, there is evidence to suggest that there may be a link. Regardless, engaging in creative activities can be a beneficial tool for improving mental health, whether or not one is struggling with mental health conditions. So go ahead and pick up that paintbrush, start writing that novel, or try your hand at a new craft – your mental health may thank you for it.
- Schizotypal personality traits: personality traits associated with schizophrenia, such as odd beliefs, unusual perceptual experiences, and social isolation.
- Bipolar disorder: a mental health condition characterized