Major depressive disorder is the most common mental health issue in the US. It touches the lives of millions of Americans each year and affects about 7% of the population. Understanding and remedying depression is a lifetime struggle for many people. Because it is such a huge part of our society, many people are trying to remove the stigma and let others know they are not alone by getting depression tattoos.
Tattoos are the most personal form of self-expression and when it comes to mental health, these tattoos become even more meaningful. Mental health tattoos come in all shapes, sizes, and subject matter. Because no one’s individual fight with depression is the same, tattoos can range from hopeful and inspiring to expressing sadness and melancholia. We decided to take a look at some of the latest designs people have shared on social media to get a better understanding of how people are manifesting their emotions. Here are 25 depression tattoos that prove no one is alone in their strife.
Depression can feel like an ominous cloud looming over you and obstructing your vision. Here, we find a beautiful expression of that sentiment. You’ll see a number of cloud-themed tattoos on this list. It’s a powerful symbol.
The person with this tattoo shared that it’s a reminder to love yourself and practice self-care. The delicate flowers here offer a glimmer of hope.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Hope can be hard to come by if you’re suffering from depression. This person’s tattoo is a reminder to always look to the light at the end of the tunnel. Things will improve.
“It’s okay to not be okay,” is a wonderful message that attempts to spread acceptance. You’ll notice the small butterfly is composed with a semicolon. It’s a popular mental health tattoo that many sufferers choose.
More Than Meets the Eye
The tattoo artist who shared this image wrote, “it is always mixed emotions creating these pieces based off of others anxiety or depression. if one thing though, its helped me realize i am not alone in /facing/ those pesky demons.”
It’s Okay to Cry
The messages from sympathetic artists are truly wonderful. The tattooed who did this design named it “drowning in tears.” They wrote:
“This was one of my most inspiring, intimate and emotional sessions so far! My customer is struggling from depression lately and her mood changes a lot. So she asked me during the lockdown to design a tattoo for her that combines the three themes of depression, moodchanging and apnea (holding breath). This is it! Thank you G. that you came to me with this intimate topic and trusted me! Thank you for the wonderful experience! You are such a lovely and strong Girl, please keep that in mind always. It was an honor to decorate your body with my art!”
The person with this tattoo described it as a representation of their depression. They wrote, “knowing, that it will end and that the sun still shines.” We love the small flower coming from the chaotic squiggle and the cute little son on top.
It can be difficult for anyone to not let doubts or negative thoughts creep in. This tattoo shows how those detrimental voices can feel.
Rain, Rain Go Away
As we mentioned, clouds are popular symbols of depression because they bring darkness, rain, and fear. However, they always pass. This micro tattoo of a cloud is a helpful reminder of that.
It Will Pass
If you ask any tattoo artist what they tattoo the most, they’ll almost always tell you this phrase. “This too shall pass” like the cloud is an affirmation that things do get better even when that seems impossible.
This is a very cool design that shows a storm underneath the umbrella. You’ll see this motif often if you look at depression tattoos.
For many dealing with depression, it can feel as if you’re wearing a mask to prove to the world that you’re okay. However, underneath that are many emotions inside. This gorgeous tattoo perfectly represents it.
It Can Take Hold
This giant red hand represents depression and how it can take you prisoner. This creative design is one of the most effective on the list.
The person with this tattoo explained that it was gotten to cover old scars. This deeply personal design represents a complicated time and we appreciate them sharing this image.
It Can Feel Like a Monster
The person with this tattoo wrote that it is based on artwork about depression by Shawn Cross. We’d say they nailed it.
On Fiona Apple’s latest album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters (which happens to be the soundtrack to the pandemic), she wrote a song about depression called “Heavy Balloon.” The lyrics “People like us we play with a heavy balloon / Keep it up to keep the devil at bay but it always falls way too soon.”
This very cool design represents depression for the person who got it. For some, it can feel like being held by a monster.
This happy/sad monster is pretty incredible in its simplicity. We love the handpoked look here which helps give the tattoo even more personality.
This is a stunner. The tattoo artist created this original design as a first tattoo for his client. He shared the image along with the quote:
“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.”
“And here I am living despite it all,” is an incredible quote for this tattoo. We love this meaningful and somber tattoo and its positive message.
Healing Takes Time
Here, we find a brain being medicated which is the perfect visual representation of treating depression. We love the fine, sharp lines the artist was able to use here. Great work!
The person who shared this tattoo wrote that it is a surrealist representation of winning his fight with depression. This gorgeous design is both personal and thought-provoking.
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“Stay strong,” is a beatufiul message of encouragement that pairs well with a beautiful rose and some geometric flourishes. We love a flower tattoo and this is one of our favorites.
There you go! 25 depression tattoos that tackle mental health and all of its complexities. We hope you enjoyed these designs and feel inspired and hopeful. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, visit MentalHealth.gov where you can find resources and a helpline if you would like to speak with someone.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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