Depressing pictures: the most depressing pictures?

What makes for the most depressing pictures?  And why do people want to see depressing pictures?  Interestingly, while we could perhaps all agree that scenes from a war zone or a hospital would be depressing, there are some pictures that could easily trigger a negative mood in someone without being particularly depressing to other people.

What makes for depressing pictures?

depressing pictures

It is the associations that a picture brings up that determine whether it is depressing or not.  For example, I once had a friend who hated any type of wedding photo or engagement photos.  For him, these were the most depressing pictures around because he could not find a good relationship and it made him very sad to imagine that everyone else but him was finding love.

depressing pictures

For some people, the image of an adorable baby might be a depressing picture.  Maybe they experienced the death of a baby or they cannot have a child.  Or perhaps their child already grew up and they miss those simpler times.

depressing pictures

Depressing pictures can take many different forms.  Some people find photos of animal cruelty sad.   I find them so sad that I could not possibly post any, but I found a cute one of a sad-looking puppy above.

Are depressing pictures like sad songs?

Maybe depressing pictures are like sad songs: they help us to get to the root of our sadness.  They help us cry, and by helping us cry, they help us to release pent up emotion.  That gives us a catharsis, which means emotional release.

depressing pictures

I find the above photo of a homeless man to be depressing.  His face is scarred and he looks much older than he is (if you look carefully, you can tell that he is actually relatively young).  He appears humbled by a lifetime of suffering.  What could be more depressing than that?

The tears of a clown when there’s no one around…

depressing pictures

There’s that old Smokey Robinson song, “The Tears of a Clown.”  I am not sure I really like clowns at the best of times, but a sad clown surely is depressing.

However, the idea of a sad clown makes a certain amount of sense.  Many people hide their emotions or even hide from their emotions.  What is sad is that, often, we are sad or even clinically depressed, and we feel like no one else in the world could possibly understand what we are going through.  If you or a friend are going through something serious right now and need additional support, please read below.

Help is available if you are in crisis!

If you are in a serious depression right now, and you think you might be a danger to yourself, please reach out for support and keep reaching out until you get proper help. Start by calling your local emergency number if you are actually on the verge of harming yourself. Alternately, you could call a local distress line or hotline in your area.
World wide list of crisis lines
International Association for Suicide Prevention, a division of the World Health Association
An easy to see at a glance list of help lines by country

Accessing emotions through depressing pictures…

Depressing pictures are just one way to access our emotions.  It might be more productive to look at insanely adorable images.  There is scientific research to suggest that looking at photos and videos of cute baby animals actually reduces stress and depression.

With that in mind, I will leave you with a tiny kitten:

depressing pictures



  1. Nicely explained the scenarioes

  2. Interesting post. I never thought about how certain images can invoke a sense of depression. I guess it is true. I think the clown was more creepy than depressing. 🙂 I do appreciate you linking to the crisis help lines for those in need. Thank you for the article; definitely will help those in need.

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