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Does Your Depression Feel Like a Monster?

Uk Illustrator Raises Mental Health Awareness

Depression Monster by UK Illustrator Toby Allen

When I decided to commit my professional career to helping people recover from depression, I accepted the likelihood that I would tangibly see, hear and feel the weight of my patients’ depression. As a physician, I am trained to use specific coping skills to process these types of emotions on a daily basis.  But I’m also a human being, with deep human connections, including a close family and many loving friends. So because I am first a human being, I also humanly care about my patients. And at times I am profoundly touched by my patients’ circumstances and mental health.

As I work with patients each day, it’s a joy to offer them a way to help them cope and process the emotions at the center of their mental health disorder. That’s why I’m interested in sharing the work of one famed artist who  significantly helps many people through his art.

The Depression Monster (Image Credit: © Toby Allen 2013)

 Meet Toby Allen, UK Illustrator

British illustrator Toby Allen draws monsters to depict a variety of mental conditions and disorders. Allen says the inspiration for his drawings comes from his own battle with Anxiety. Drawing his worries and anxieties helped him to see them in a different light, and made these conditions seem more manageable.

The project originated from imagining my own anxieties as monsters and finding it to be a cathartic and healing process to draw them,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “It made them feel weaker and I was able to look at my own anxiety in a comical way. I wanted to expand upon this idea and draw other representations of mental illnesses that could help people in the same way it helped me.

So Allen shared his drawings on the internet. Then, encouraged by the massive support and positive response that he received from people online, he decided to portray other mental conditions as a way of educating people about mental illness and reducing the stigma surrounding these conditions. The result is the “Real Monsters” series, a 16 illustration collection that has helped to raise awareness of different mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, anxiety, OCD and body dysmorphic disorder, among many other conditions.

Allen conducts thorough research on each mental condition before beginning his drawings, utilizing first person case studies or interviewing people

Toby Allen tells the story of the Depression Monster

This description accompanies the illustration: “The Depression Monster floats around endlessly, always covering his eyes to hide itself from the outside world. Because of this, it always bumps into people or other monsters causing more distress to itself each time. Its only relief is to wrap its tail around a victim and share its depression with them. The victim is unaware of the monster but will register a heaviness and will develop a state of deep depression. Meanwhile, the monster absorbs any positive emotion from its post until it has had its fill and moves on to another host.”

Allen’s Monsters Offer Mental Health Insights

Toby has received largely positive feedback from people suffering from mental disorders, with many of them talking about the great impact the drawings have had on their lives. Allen’s work has a massive following on Tumbler and has been featured on The Huffington Post, Daily Mail UK and Mashable websites.

Allen wrote on his blog: “The artwork is not at all intended to make light of these conditions but instead is intended to give these intangible mental illnesses some substance and make them appear more beatable as physical entities.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-drawn-real-monsters-toby-allen

The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Monster (Image Credit: © Toby Allen 2013)

Toby Allen’s pictures offer incredible insight into the various mental illnesses that plague millions of people worldwide. For instance, he depicts the OCD monster as a cruel puppeteer that seeks to control its victims’ lives by fear. Anyone who has ever developed obsessive compulsions in order to control their environment and prevent the things they fear from coming true can attest to the controlling nature of this monster.

By turning mental disorders into a physical form, Allen makes it possible for victims to take the necessary steps to treat and manage them. “I have received so many wonderful messages from people who live with one or many of the disorders I have drawn,” he said, “each telling me how much the work means to them and how it has helped them to think about their condition in a different or more positive way.

You can shop for his art and related products online: 

Treating Depression

Once you have named and accepted depression as your monster, it may be time to seek treatment in order to ensure that it does not keep you down permanently and affect your productivity and the quality of your life. There are several methods for treating depression including psychotherapy and the use of antidepressant medication. However, antidepressant medication can have several negative side effects including lethargy, sleeplessness and thoughts of suicide.

Fortunately, TMS is proven as a great new alternative treatment for people who do not respond to psychotherapy or anti-depressants and who do not want to deal with the side effects associated with depression medication. 

TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Therapy

TMS targets areas in the brain that are known to be underactive in people suffering from depression and uses focused magnetic pulses to restore these areas to normality and lift feelings of depression. TMS has relatively few to no side effects, takes less than 40 minutes to administer and allows you to resume normal activities as soon as the treatment is complete.

If you are suffering from depression, it may be of great benefit to speak with a physician who is experienced with TMS treatment. Together, you can develop an effective treatment program that will most likely help you beat depression for good.

Hear what Nashville TMS patients have to say about their depression treatment experiences and outcomes!

Does Your Depression Feel Like a Monster?

Dr. Scott West

About Nashville NeuroCare Therapy: In April of 2010, Dr. West brought the technology of NeuroStar TMS to Nashville, becoming the first physician in Tennessee to offer the option of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for patients whose severe depression has not responded to a course of antidepressant medication or treatment for depression. The team at Nashville NeuroCare Therapy offers the most experience in the Tennessee-area. We have treated 550+ patients across the U.S. and administered 16,000+ TMS treatments, plus we maintain some of the highest percentages of positive patient responses and remission rates in the industry.

At Nashville NeuroCare Therapy, we deliver personalized therapy, specializing in TMS Therapy and Neurofeedback. We provide safe and well-researched therapies for depression, ADHD and sleep problems—all without the need for medication.

For more information on our therapies for Depression, ADHD and Sleep Problems, please contact us at (615) 465-4875 or or or visit our website

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APA Reference
West, W. (2015). Does Your Depression Feel Like a Monster?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Oct 2015
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