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Feeling “Gray” Is Characteristic of Depression

A new study suggests individuals with depression or anxiety characterize their mental state as a shade of gray.

Scientists developed a tool to study the relationship between color choice and mood. The instrument, termed the Manchester Color Wheel, documents an individual’s preferred pigment in relation to their state of mind.

Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medical Research Methodology describe how they developed the color chart.

Peter Whorwell, professor of medicine and gastroenterology at University Hospital South Manchester, worked with a team of researchers from the University of Manchester, UK, to create an instrument that would allow people a choice of colors in response to questions.

He said, “Colors are frequently used to describe emotions, such as being ‘green with envy’ or ‘in the blues.’ Although there is a large, often anecdotal, literature on color preferences and the relationship of color to mood and emotion, there has been relatively little serious research on the subject.”

The researchers created a wheel of colors of various intensities, including shades of gray. They then asked a control group of non-anxious, non-depressed people to describe which color they felt most drawn to, which was their favorite and whether any of the colors represented their current mood.

When the test was repeated with anxious and depressed people, most chose the same ‘drawn to’ color as the healthy participants, yellow, and the same favorite color, blue. When asked which color represented their mood, however, most chose gray, unlike the healthy subjects who tended to pick a shade of yellow.

A separate group of healthy volunteers were also asked whether they associated any of the colors with positive or negative moods.

According to Whorwell, “When we used these results to separate colors into positive, negative and neutral groups, we found that depressed individuals showed a striking preference for negative colors compared to healthy controls. Anxious individuals gave results intermediate to those observed in depression, with negative colors being chosen more frequently as well as positive colors being chosen less frequently than in the control test.”

The Color Wheel provides a unique way of asking patients about their condition that dispenses with the need for language.

Source: BioMed Central

Feeling “Gray” Is Characteristic of Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Feeling “Gray” Is Characteristic of Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 12, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/09/feeling-gray-is-characteristic-of-depression/11285.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.