Are Mental Illness and Creativity Related?

woman painting at art studio

Many of the world’s most famous creatives struggled with mental health issues. Often the existence of their mental health as a contributor to their creativity is overlooked because their struggles become just another part of the glamorized story of their lives. When they pass because of alcoholism, drug addiction, or suicide, they are immortalized through their memory as an artist. What people are quick to forget is the fact that behind the creativity and perhaps the fame was an individual, a human being like anyone else, who was struggling with mental illness.

The Big Think examines the relationship between creativity and mental illness. A 1931 study, the article cites, interviewed over 800 well known creative “geniuses” at the time and found that a small percentage, the minority, of participants had no struggles with mental health. Recent research supports the finding. Bipolar disorder, for example, is highly correlated with high intelligence and creativity. A screening of over 700,000 teens in Sweden, the article explains, found that “exceptionally creative” teens were four times more likely to have bipolar. Other studies have found that people who are highly creative are highly likely to have bipolar disorder or another personality or mood disorder. Writers are the most likely to struggle with a severe mental illness like anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia. Additional research has found a scientific link through neuroscience. Though many of these studies point to a correlation, the article points out, none draw a definitive line of causation.

Creativity and mental illness may be linked, which is why creative and expressive art therapies are helpful in mental health treatment. The mind is full of genius, finding ways to express itself other than words. Music therapy, art therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, and other creative forms of therapy help clients express what they might not otherwise be able to express.

Creatives in the spotlight who struggle with mental illness use their gift of creative talent to communicate a human experience that cannot be understand by anyone else other than those who also struggle. Yet, with their music, their art, their creativity, they are able to spread awareness, touch lives, and make an impact. Still beneath the surface they are people struggling with challenging symptoms in need of understanding, love, and care.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at Call 1-800-273-8255.

You can find balance between your creative efforts and your mental illness. If you are struggling with bipolar disorder, depression, or any other mental health issue, there is help available. Avalon By The Sea is one of Southern California’s only certified primary mental health treatment facility. Our residential treatment programs and spectrum of care are trusted to provide trusted results. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-958-7511

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