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Pick a color: Study shows depressed patients gravitate towards gray

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When I heard news of a study on colors and mood today, I couldn't help but think of the opening words in Dr. Seuss' "My Many Colored Days:"

Some days are yellow, some are blue/On different days I'm different too/You'd be surprised how many ways/I change on different colored days

Perhaps inspired by the classic book, which goes on to attach colors with different emotions, researchers from the University Hospital of South Manchester in England wanted to see whether mood affected color preference. The team created a wheel of colors and asked study participants - 309 healthy ones and 218 considered depressed or anxious - a series of questions. From WebMD:

People in the groups differed sharply... when asked to pick a hue that reflected their mood. Healthy participants selected a shade of yellow, but depressed ones, for the most part, chose gray.

According to the researchers, the color gray implies "a dark state of mind, a colorless and monotonous life, gloom, misery or a disinterest in life." Yellow, on the other hand, is linked to "happiness, cheerfulness and a positive emotional state."

As for practical applications of the work, which appears in the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology:

The researchers say the color wheel could be useful "in a variety of clinical situations" in diagnosing and treating people who suffer from depression. It also may prove useful, they write, in situations in which verbal communication might be difficult, such as with children.

Photo by StewC

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