Color Therapy for Depression


With the number of side effects that come with standard pharmaceutical interventions for depression, it is unsurprising that many people look for alternative therapies. There are treatments based on music and on storytelling. Therapy can takes place one-on-one or in a group, with or without family members present. One of the more esoteric alternative therapies available is that of color therapy.


Developed over several decades in the later part of the twentieth century, color therapy for depression operates on the principle that exposure to certain colors causes changes in our moods, and that by modulating that exposure, we can alter our emotional state at will. Color therapy is conducted by a trained specialist and can be performed anywhere from several times a week to a few times a month, or even in one’s own home.


The different colors used to evoke positive emotional responses generally include orange, blue, indigo, and violet. Others colors like red or yellow also trigger emotions, but those tend to be higher energy feelings and so are not used therapeutically very often.

  • Orange - Symbolizing the sun, the color orange is said to treat depression by increasing alertness and concentration, and by decreasing feelings of dread.
  • Blue - The most common color used in color therapy, blue is used to reduce tension throughout the body, helping with both anxiety and depression. It may also benefit a regular sleep cycle.
  • Indigo - The calming effect of indigo makes it a good choice for people with depression or anxiety.
  • Violet - Like indigo, violet relaxes the mind and body. Proponents of color therapy claim that it can relax muscles and encourage meditation.


So far, there is no conclusive evidence that color therapy causes a significant change in a depressed person’s mood. Neither is there proof that it doesn’t work. In most cases, participants would say that the therapy was working, but would show no scientifically measurable indication of it. Further research is needed if color therapy is to achieve the same popularity as, say, light therapy.

Light Therapy

Related to color therapy for depression is light therapy. Scientifically proven and commonly used to provide relief from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the “winter blues”, light therapy makes use of a white or sometimes blue-tinted light to simulate the light of the sun. This alters the body’s production of melatonin, and has a measurable effect on biochemistry.


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