Depression Tattoos to Support Mental Health

Woman getting a tattoo
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Depression tattoos can be a way to express yourself, a way to give yourself a visual reminder of the need to stay strong, and also a symbol to those around you of your beliefs and the difficulties that you are facing.

If you've considered getting a depression tattoo, you might have wondered what type to get. The list below includes 11 options to consider if you want a tattoo that is representative of depression and mental health.


Traditional Semicolon

Woman's arm with depression tattoo
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The traditional semicolon tattoo originated with the Semicolon Project that was started by Amy Bleuel in 2013. Her mission was to encourage people living with mental illness and to give them hope.

The meaning of the semicolon tattoo is reflective of what a semicolon means to a writer; that the story isn't over and there is more to be written. Similarly, Amy wanted the semicolon tattoo to represent that a person with depression is choosing to keep going.


Semicolon with Flower

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If you don't want to have a simple traditional semicolon tattoo, you could choose to pair that semicolon with another image or graphic. There are many options to choose from, with one of the popular options being a flower. Flowers themselves have symbolic meaning, so if you choose to add a flower to your semicolon tattoo, you could match that flower to the meaning you want to convey.


Heart with Semicolon

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Another simple way to spice up the semicolon tattoo would be to combine it with a graphic image of a heart. There are endless options of how to do this, but one that's been popularized is to include the semicolon as part of the border of the heart.

This is a simple but elegant tattoo that makes a statement about depression and would serve as a reminder to love yourself and keep going. Other options might be to have a small heart beside a semicolon or to make the dotted part of the semicolon a heart itself.


Love with Semicolon

Man's hand with love word tattoo

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If you like the idea of incorporating words or text in your tattoo, there are also endless options. One popular tattoo that supports the idea of moving forward from depression and continuing to show yourself compassion is a tattoo of the word "love."

Again, you can link this type of tattoo more strongly to have a meaning related to depression by adding a semicolon somewhere to the design. You could do this by making the semicolon part of the script of the word "love," or you could choose to place a semicolon somewhere outside of the design.

Whatever option you like best, the combination of the word "love" with the semicolon will once again serve as a reminder that self-compassion and perseverance are most important.


Hope Tattoo

Man with hope tattoo

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Just as you could combine the semicolon with the word "love," you could just as easily combine it with the word "hope." Most people living with depression develop a false sense of a bleak future, and find it difficult to imagine that things will turn around or that the problems they are currently facing will ever be resolved.

In this way, a hope tattoo is unique in that it helps to remind the wearer that there are most certainly better days ahead, and that it's worth continuing on. Not only that, but when the hope tattoo is paired with the semicolon, it signifies that it's okay to pause and restart.

What's happening to you now doesn't necessarily reflect what your life will be like in the future.


Believe Tattoo

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Many people with depression lack a belief that things will improve. A tattoo of the word "believe" can be similar to the hope tattoo in that it signifies a better time ahead for those with depression. For anyone with strong spiritual beliefs, a believe tattoo could also be a reminder of the need to stay strong in one's beliefs and to pause and ask for guidance when feeling lost.

When paired with the semicolon, the believe tattoo becomes a strong symbol of the need for those with depression to hang on through the dark times and to believe that there is light on the other side.


Breathe Tattoo

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While a tattoo of the word "breathe" might be more commonly associated with anxiety, this type of tattoo can also be a good option for those with depression or a combination of a mood disorder with an anxiety disorder. The word "breathe" carries with it many of the same connotations as the semicolon; the importance of pausing to recollect yourself and refilling yourself with new energy to start again.

If you struggle with mindfulness and living in the moment, a "breathe" tattoo could also be a reminder to pay mindful attention to your breath as a way of managing your mental health.


Semicolon with Musical Note

Hand with musical note tattoo

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Music can have a powerful influence on your mood. Another depression tattoo option would be to pair a musical note with the semicolon so that it looks like one image. If you are a musician this would be particularly apt, and even if you are not the musical note combined with semicolon would be a reminder to you that there is still music left to be played (in other words, you still have a life left to live).

If the idea of a musical note paired with the semicolon does not appeal to you, simply separate the tattoos and place them in separate locations. For example, you could have a musical note on one wrist and a semicolon on the other.


Semicolon with Cat Whiskers

Woman holding cat with cat tattoo

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Are you a pet enthusiast, or specifically a cat lover? Another fun way to dress up the semicolon tattoo would be to combine the dotted part of the semicolon with a set of cat whiskers, so that it looks like a cat's face. A tattoo of this nature would serve as a reminder of the areas of life that keep you going, such as your pets or those around you who love you.

A cat tattoo is also a bit light-hearted, which could help to lift your spirits on the days when you are feeling down. While clinical depression is more than just sadness, it's important to engage in mood-boosting activities when you can. A tattoo of your favorite animal on your wrist or elsewhere could help you do just that.


Semicolon with Paw Print

Leg with paw print tattoo

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Not a cat lover? If you prefer dogs instead, you could make a simple switch and trade out the cat whiskers for a paw print when you get your semicolon tattoo. This is another fun way to dress up the traditional semicolon, and also remind you of your favorite furry friend during times when you are feeling low.

Beyond acting as pets, some animals can also serve as emotional supports. If you've never heard of an emotional support animal, this is a pet who is designated as necessary for your emotional well-being, and is given certain privileges, such as the right to travel with you places a regular pet could not go.

If you live with depression and also have an emotional support animal, the paw print combined with semicolon could be the perfect tattoo for you.


Semicolon with Cross

Hand with cross tattoo.

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Finally, one last depression tattoo that you might consider is the semicolon combined with a cross. This tattoo is similar to the believe tattoo combined with the semicolon, in that it's good for those who are living with depression but who also hold strong spiritual beliefs.

Cross tattoos are fairly popular on their own, but when combined with the semicolon they take on a whole new meaning. In fact, if you already happen to have a cross tattoo and are living with depression, you could consider adding a semicolon to part of the design.

This would serve as a constant reminder to have faith that the future will be better and to keep going.

By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.