Can Color Be Used to Treat Mental Illness?

Jennifer Bell

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around mental health treatment. Many people are uncomfortable with traditional therapy and medication, so they seek alternative ways to get relief.

This is unwise. Putting off treatment will only make the condition worse. As of now, there is nothing available as an alternative that works.

While it is true that there is no true alternative to a therapist and pills, there are several methods that can help in addition to what is necessary. Most mental illnesses are not curable; they are only manageable.

Because they are not curable, if an alternative method of treatment can provide additional relief, then it is worth doing. One such alternative is color therapy. In this post, we will cover how color affects mood and whether color therapy works.

How Color Affects Mood

Every color is a mixture of the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) and black and white. Black and white are neutral colors. They aren’t known to have an effect on mood on their own. However, white makes much better use of light.

The primary colors are used the most, and mixing them can mix the effects. The most commonly used color is blue.


Blue is likely used so much because it is associated with peace and relaxation. If you struggle with insomnia, painting your room blue and spending some quiet time there before bed can help you to fall asleep.

However, stay away from darker blues, like navy blue. Dark blue colors are believed to cause sadness. In color therapy, it is used to help you relax.


Red gets your adrenaline pumping. It’s a good color for a room where there is a lot of excitement and conversation, like a game room or dining room.

Because it is so stimulating, it is usually only used in physical therapy. Most mental health conditions do not need a boost of adrenaline or emotion.


Yellow creates a sense of joy, hope, and optimism. However, too much of it can cause negative feelings. It’s better as an accent color because of this. 

You’ll only get the benefits of yellow when paired with other colors. When mixed with blue, it creates one of the best colors for mental health.


Yellow and blue make green, and green creates balance. It’s considered the safest color in color therapy, and it can alleviate symptoms of depression.

However, this is only true of darker green colors because light green can cause anxiety. This makes sense because light green typically contains more yellow than blue, and blue is the color of relaxation.

Less Commonly Used Colors & the Origins of These Associations

Other colors that are occasionally used include orange and purple. Orange is associated with sexuality, pleasure, and well-being, and purple is associated with spirituality and beauty.

All of these associations are based on eastern medicine and Chakras. The seven chakras are represented by red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Each of these seven Chakras and colors represents a different feeling.

This information leads us to a question that is often asked.

Does Color Therapy Work?

When you go for color therapy, you will either look at color or have color projected on your skin. Most scientific studies related to color psychology have to do with color that you see. There has been some data collected that suggests that the colors you surround yourself with can affect your mood and productivity.

There has not been as much data collected about the effects of color on your skin. This method is still very much experimental and based in spirituality, and the color that you see has more of an effect if you are exposed to it long-term.

If you are looking for an alternative to traditional therapy and medication, this is not the solution you are looking for. The only method that is proven to work for mental health conditions is traditional therapy and medication.

However, color therapy can help in addition to traditional methods. If you are looking for more relief, it is worth exploring. 

It’s also a good idea to surround yourself with colors that complement your illness. If you have anxiety and are surrounded by red, consider switching to blue or green.

Acupuncture and meditation are also eastern methods of alleviating stress, and they are widely used and help many people. You shouldn’t write off color therapy entirely just because it comes from eastern medicine. 

It’s important to seek help if you are struggling. If color therapy can act as a bridge to traditional therapy and medication, then that is good too. Start with whatever makes you most comfortable.

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes on behalf of Home Appraising Group, Philadelphia home appraisers.


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