Colour Therapy

Our rating
 Question mark: This treatment has not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.

What does this rating mean?

The rating system

  • 3 smiliesThese treatments are very useful. They are strongly supported as effective by scientific evidence.
  • 2 smiliesThese treatments are useful. They are supported by scientific evidence as effective, but the evidence is not as strong.
  • 1 smileyThese treatments are promising and may be useful. They have some evidence to support them, but more evidence is needed to be sure they work.
  • No smiley On the available evidence, these treatments do not seem to be effective.
  • Question markThese treatments have not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.
  • These treatments are not recommended and could be dangerousSafety or other concerns have been raised for the use of these treatments.

What is it?

Some people believe that their mood is affected by the colours of their surroundings and their clothes. Colour therapy may involve painting rooms or wearing certain colours to try to boost mood. 

Colour therapy also refers to an alternative therapy where patients are exposed to coloured light on their bodies. Note that this therapy is different, but similar, to light therapy.

How does it work?

It is not known how colour might affect mood.

Is it effective?

Some research has been carried out showing that the colour of a room affects mood in people who do not have depression. However, there has been no research on how colour affects people who have depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

It can be expensive and impractical to change the colour of your surroundings (i.e. by painting walls), especially in settings outside the home.

Where do you get it?

Books on the use of colour for health and well-being are available in bookshops and on the internet. You may also be able to find colour therapy workshops available, which are usually run by alternative health practitioners.

Recommendation

Given the lack of evidence on colour therapy, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.

Key references

  • Kwallek N, Lewis CM, Lin-Hsiao JWD, Woodson H. Effects of nine monochromatic office interior colors on clerical tasks and mood. Color Research and Application 1996; 21: 448-458.

Last updated and reviewed: 1 November 2019