In this guide we are going to discuss what depression tattoos are and what are some heartwarming tattoo ideas.
We will also discuss why people get depression tattoos and whether they actually are healthy in one’s mental health journey.
What are depression tattoos?
Depression tattoos are tattoos that people usually get to represent their own experiences with depression or other mental health disorders and conditions.
These tattoos can be an art form used to express oneself or as a reminder about one’s own experience and journey including victories when it comes to their mental health.
It is also a visual reminder of the need to stay strong and a reminder for others as well about your own beliefs and your own struggles as you become mentally more resilient.
Why do people get depression tattoos?
People get depression themed tattoos as a personal reminder to themselves about what they have overcome and their own ex[ereinces of taking on the challenge of living with mental health disorders such as depression.
It can be a form of celebration or honouring a milestone when one has begun to health in their own mental health journey- to celebrate an accomplishment.
It might also be a public declaration of your own beliefs when it comes to mental health and also stand as a show of support for other people- in your family or even for strangers- that you support them in their own struggle.
Sometimes, people might even get a tattoo that has the theme of depression and this might be part of the impulsivity that sometimes accompanies depression. They might have gotten it in a spur of the moment without much thought as well.
What is depression?
Depression or clinically known as major depressive disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is a serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Apart from these emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.
For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Let us look at the various symptoms that must meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression.
Symptoms of depression indicate change from normal functioning and include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
Do depression tattoos help?
When these tattoos are done with mindful intent and understanding of the meaning behind a tattoo, it can be a powerful reminder of your own victories, journeys, and your own abilities to overcome an obstacle.
Tattoos can in fact be a stance against the world around you as you express your individuality and might also be part of your appreciation towards your own body.
Tattoos might positively impact your body as it helps you demonstrate a sense of commitment, support others with the same condition, increase awareness, and provide a means for self expression.
It can also be part of your own grieving process and your own journey towards healing from your own trauma and struggles, it can also give you a sense of empowerment and pride.
For most people tattoos can also be part of their coping process and also help you cover up self-harm scars that were part of your mental health struggles.
While positive the changes that tattoos can bring about, sometimes the choice to get a tattoo might not be well thought out and could be a result of impulse- it can also be an unhealthy way to cope with your feelings and emotions or it might also be part of an adrenaline seeking behaviour fueled by impulse.
It is very important that you reconsider the reasons why you want a tattoo and where the urge to get one is coming from so that there is mindful intent and the tattoo is part of your larger journey towards growing into the person you want to be.
What are some depression tattoo ideas?
Here are a few tattoo ideas if you want to get one in honour of your struggle or fight against depression.
The semicolon tattoo is an important symbol of the community that struggles with depression, mental health problems, and suicide, It originated with the Semicolon Project that was started by Amy Bleuel in 2013.
The project mission was to encourage people living with mental illness and to give them hope- to keep going in spite of the struggles in their life and the condition of their mental health- that their story is not over and that this is not the end of their lives.
The symbol is a constant encouragement for both people who struggle with depression as well as serves as an empathetic symbol for the community by other people who wish to show their support in various ways.
Most people living with depression develop a false sense of a bleak future, and struggle with extreme hopelessness about their life and themselves. This is one of the most telling symptoms of depression.
Getting yourself a hope tattoo will not immediately instill hope but it can be a way to remind yourself to learn to be more optimistic about yourself and your life. It can help you remember that it takes effort to take notice of negative thoughts that aggravate depression and instead choose hope.
Mindfulness tattoos can also be a good symbol to be tattooed on your body. Mindfulness has been proven as an effective technique and way of life to combat depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness tattoo ideas such as a reminder to “just breathe”’, the symbol of the lotus, the water drop etc- can all prove to be reminders of the choice to live mindfully.
These tattoos can help you become mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour and can serve as a constant reminder to be mindful in your day to day life as it can boost your mental health and well-being.
Spiritual tattoo ideas can also be part of your mental health celebration if spirituality has been part of your healing and journey.
In Catholic tradition, a Rosary is a symbol of faith, prayer, and devotion, this can be a tattoo idea or even a cross if you believe that spirituality is part of your victory over your depression.
These tattoos need not be limited to one religion, there are plenty of religions that have various symbols such as the buddhist Om, or the Lotus which are all part of spiritual healing and mindful living.
Now another tattoo idea is a transformation tattoo. Most commonly, Butterflies often represent a natural growth and transformation, starting life as a caterpillar then developing into a vibrant, colorful butterfly with the ability to fly and be free.
Transformation tattoos symbolise that we all have the power to choose to change, grow, and evolve into something greater. Such tattoos also serve as a reminder that transformation is messy, ugly, painful, but the rewards of change are beautiful and well-deserved.
You can opt for tattoos that symbolise victories- your own victories in your own mental health struggle against depression.
These victory tattoos can be symbols of a mountain to symbolise your climb up towards self-love and self-compassion, or it could be symbols of victorious warfare to symbolise that what you went through was akin to war and now you have come out victorious on the other side.
The tattoo that you choose can signify the story of your own struggle and the celebration of your victory.
In this guide we have discussed what depression tattoos are and what are some heartwarming tattoo ideas.
We also discussed why people get depression tattoos and whether they actually are healthy in one’s mental health journey.
Arlin Cuncic. Depression Tattoos to Support Mental Health. VeryWellMind. September 16, 2020. Retrieved on 27th November 2021.
Hope Gillette. Depression Tattoos. Psychcentral. August 30, 202. Retrieved on 27th November 2021.https://psychcentral.com/depression/depression-tattoos
FAQ about depression tattoos
Is there a symbol for depression?
You might have seen rainstorm images, ravens, and skull or grim reaper symbols. Barren landscapes and faces of cliffs are popular, too. All of these are commonly associated with depression because they capture the essence of the darkness, despair, struggle, and thoughts of death that are hallmarks of major depression
What is the tattoo symbol for mental health?
Semicolon. If you know, you know. The mental health tattoo that started it all: A semicolon tattoo through the lens of mental health is a symbol of solidarity between those of us who live and struggle with a mental illness or who have lost someone to suicide.
Do tattoos shorten your lifespan?
Do tattoos shorten your lifespan? No study has yet to prove that tattoos shorten your lifespan due to biology. However, some studies have hypothesized the link between tattoos and risk taking behavior. This means people that take greater risks, such as getting tattooed, sky-diving, etc., may die sooner.
Is there a symbol for PTSD?
The teal ribbon has been assigned as the symbol of PTSD awareness.