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Doodling: An Innovative Therapy Against Depression

Jane Hudson 30th Jul 2018

According to the National Mental Health Survey conducted in India, one in 20 people over 18 years of age have dealt at least once in their life with depression. This amounts to 5.25% of the population and a total of over 45 million people with depression each year in India alone. The effects of art on depression and mental health are widely recognised, but sometimes it can be hard to commit to a form of art which is perceived as being more expensive and time-consuming, such as painting. Doodling, a simpler form of art which is accessible to anyone and simply requires a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper has also been shown to have surprising benefits, helping individuals deal with depression and anxiety and also regain mindfulness. 


Image : bymintowl at

Creating community

Through doodling and drawing, it is possible to create groups of people who are dealing with the same issues and can support and encourage each other. Even simply sharing your work online, on social platforms or platforms dedicated to art, can create an overwhelming response and help those dealing with this difficult situation feel less alone. 

The blog The Doodle Chronicles is a great example of this. It was started by a student diagnosed with severe clinical depression and anxiety, and by sharing her doodles online, she has received wonderful replies and comments from other people struggling with depression all over the world. Another touching story comes from Bhamati Pai, a 36-year-old Indian woman diagnosed with malignant brain tumour, who fought for survival and was able to bounce back also thanks to doodling, which helped her keep feelings of despair and depression at bay. Recently, doodling as a form of both art and therapy has in fact reached many Indian cities, such as Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad, and is continuing to expand. 

April By Santanu Hazarika

April By Santanu Hazarika

How doodling works

Doodling is accessible to almost anyone and does not need to possess any kind of artistic qualities, so it frees the individual from "performance anxiety" and the feeling of needing to create something beautiful. Doodling can simply be the repetition of patterns, random words, shapes or anything else you feel like drawing. It doesn't have to be aesthetically pleasing, but if you want to draw a specific item or figure, there are plenty of tutorials or drawing lessons available online to help you get the result you want. 

Maya By Santanu Hazarika

Maya By Santanu Hazarika

Doodling helps the mind slow down, and consequently can help with overthinking or wandering into negative thoughts; it is calming and provides stress and anxiety relief. Doodles look like they are random but actually multiple studies have shown that they are not quite as random as they appear. Doodling is our brain's way to make sense of our lives, filling in the gaps which can't be filled by normal memory or through processing. Doodling allows us to find the lost puzzle pieces and put everything back together, recreating whole memories and enhancing our sense of self and meaning in the process. 

Also read The Profound Impact of Art on Mental Health

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