How to write a depressed character (A complete guide)

In the following article, we are going to discuss how to write a depressed character, understanding depression and some tips to make your character more realistic, treatment options for your character.

Writing a depressed character

If you want to write about a character with depression, you must first familiarize yourself with the disorder.

With the growing portrayal of mental health disorders in movies, books, tv shows more and more people are getting curious

However, this portrayal is not always accurate. There is a lot of misinformation about mental illnesses out there. Fiction, in all of its forms, has dramatised these disorders far too often.

Understanding depression. 

Depression is a mood disorder, characterised by experience of negative emotions, lack of motivation, lack of any feelings of pleasure. Depression is a tricky disease. It’s deceptive. There are days that are “good” and days that are “awful.”

It is not always crying and sinking slowly into the floor or flipping the light switch on and off. It is a complicated disorder and everyone has a different experience of it. The crux of the symptoms may remain the same, but everyone’s story will differ. 

There are many people who suffer from depression, and yet manage to fool their co-workers, friends and family into thinking they’re doing just fine. 

If you want your character to be realistic, I’d suggest talking to someone who has or is suffering from the condition. ( Keep in mind, be empathetic and sensitive towards them). 

Read up about depression here.

Tips for writing a depressed character

Don’t worry about the character being unlikeable. 

When your pals are sad or worried, do you despise them? No. It may be difficult to be around them at times, but you don’t abandon them in their distress, do you? Obviously not.

You are not unlikable because you are having difficulties with anything. The concept itself is incomprehensible. Characters that face the most challenges are the most engaging to write and read. They’re also more realistic. Do you know someone who has never had a problem in their life? Nobody.

We all face challenges. Not to mention that the entire concept of a narrative revolves around conflict — or, as you may have surmised, struggle. This is what propels the storey ahead. A book would go nowhere if it didn’t have conflict. Nothing was going to happen. If you tried to read it, you’d fall asleep in your chair.

That doesn’t imply you should include a character that suffers from depression merely for the sake of it. Depression, like sadness or death, is a high-maintenance plot point. You must see it through to the end. 

That being said, don’t be put off by this! In our media, we need more representation of the mental health community

Do not glorify the suffering 

Remember, pain is not pretty.  This is true of any form of suffering, but let’s focus on depression and suicidal ideation. There’s a common misconception that pain equals beauty. 

Pain is not the same as beauty. Any kind of pain is a source of sorrow. It’s up to you to make something beautiful out of your agony, but the pain itself isn’t. Why is it that pain is given so much credit? Yes, pain alters people, but it is the individuals who alter. The discomfort had no effect. The individual was saved.

Depression isn’t a delicate flower. It isn’t a dramatic sigh followed by a flop onto the couch. It’s not a modicum of sadness here and there, nor is it a perfect peace with tears silently streaming down your face.

It’s most typically impatience and outbursts. Saying things you don’t mean but can’t take back. Looking in the mirror and seeing the spark in your eyes that you used to take for granted is no longer there.

Depression is going into the bathroom to cry, putting on the fan so no one can hear you, and then coming out, appearing as if everything is fine. It’s a crushing sense of inadequacy, with a continual voice in your ear saying, “You’re not good enough.” You’ll never be. “It’s best for your family if you don’t come home.” And you’re so worn out that you believe it.

Depression is neither attractive nor dramatic. It’s a living hell.

Be accurate. 

Do not use the term lightly. You must be careful not to confuse depression with sadness. Because people use the term, a character can use it, but you must keep conscious of the condition. 

It’s a deep grief accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. You have the impression that the world is crushing you or that the world would be a better place without you. This is debilitating, and it can linger for days, weeks, months, or even years, making life difficult.

Be precise

Remember your character’s symptoms, but they don’t have to be filled with everything on the list. It’s possible that they have trouble sleeping and have poor energy, but it’s also possible that they have a false feeling of positivity that masks their despair. 

Concentration difficulties, irritability, eating disorders, and an inability to get pleasure or contentment from material possessions are all possibilities.

 If you slam everything on your character and their dealing with depression isn’t the main focus of the story, you’ll hit a lot of roadblocks. So, before you choose a degree, think about the story. 

Be realistic 

Do not have the character awaken from their depression because they were given a pep talk. That isn’t going to work. It may cause them to recognise the problem and seek assistance, which is a good thing. On the other hand, it might make a person feel as though they aren’t being understood or even mocked, causing them to withdraw even more.

Romance isn’t a cure to depression

There always appears to be a male character that swoops in to save the day, especially with women who are depressed and suicidal. Let’s be honest. It’s actually dangerous to put your emotional well-being entirely in the hands of one individual. You shouldn’t treat your partner as if he or she were a God-like saviour or protector. 

So, if you really must write a character whose worth and survival are entirely dependent on their significant other, please show it as unhealthy and harmful as it is. Don’t put that relationship on a pedestal and pretend it’s perfect; it’s the furthest thing from it.

Try not to portray this character in a negative light 

Some people are tempted to employ characters like this for comedic value or to play the “bad guy.” Yes, a person suffering from depression might be a pessimist because they find it difficult to see the bright side of things. 

That isn’t always the case, though. A depressed person may also be shy, speaking only when they build up a great deal of confidence to do so. There’s a fear of rejection here, which can be exploited to elicit sympathy. 

Again, personality plays a role, as some people may be more chatty and open because they are disguising their sorrow.

Depression isn’t always visible. 

While crying and a gloomy attitude are both prevalent indications of depression, it’s unrealistic to expect your character to be in tears all the time.

 As previously stated, many people disguise their sadness beneath a convincing smile. However, depression can take on various forms, such as exhaustion or even rage. 

Depression frequently co-occurs with other mental diseases and may share some of their characteristics. Depression and anxiety, for example, are frequently combined, and psychosis can occur as a sign of severe depression.

Depressed, doesn’t necessarily mean suicidal 

Suicidal ideas and behaviour thrive in the shadow of depression, but it is not a foregone conclusion that someone who is depressed is or will become suicidal in the future.

Various people have different reactions to depression. For some, it may be a severe, debilitating illness that makes getting out of bed on a daily basis difficult. 

Others may experience depression in milder forms or with distinct symptoms; for example, dysthymia is a mild but persistent form of depression. In the case of seasonal affective disorder, symptoms may even come and go with the seasons (SAD).

How will your character get treatment?

Now that you are set on the path of writing a depressed character, I urge you to make sure this character also gets treated for it. 

While it is important to create awareness about mental health disorders, it is also very very very important for people to understand, help is available, treatment is available, and that they should not try to fight these battles on their own. 

Following are some of the treatment options you can use.

Antidepressant drugs

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), Tricyclic (affect serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine), and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are the four types of antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). These difficult-to-pronounce names refer to the substances that these medications alter in our brains.

Learn more about antidepressant drugs here 


Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to change a patient’s thinking processes. As a result, their actions and/or moods should change. Rather of concentrating on the past, CBT focuses on improving one’s mental state in the present and preparing them for a more hopeful future.

Interpersonal therapy 

While things surrounding interpersonal connections can not create depression, IPT contends that depression does exist inside those settings and unquestionably affects those interactions. This therapy’s short-term goals are to improve social adjustment and lessen depressed symptoms. Long-term, the goal is to enable and empower patients to make the necessary adjustments for themselves.

These two aren’t the only therapies used in treating depression. Read more about the different types of psychotherapies used here


In this article we discussed how to write a depressed character, understanding depression and how to include treatment for your character. 


How do you develop a depressing character?

 Tips for Writing a depressed character 

  1. Don’t worry about your character being unlikeable
  2. Do not glorify the suffering
  3. Be accurate
  4. Be precise
  5. Be realistic

What are the 5 characteristics of depression?


Signs of Depression

  • Hopeless outlook.
  • Lost interest.
  • Fatigue.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability in men.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Emotions.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

What are some words to describe depression or feelings of depression?

Following are some words you can use to describe depression or feelings of depression

  • depressing,
  • dismal,
  • drear,
  • dreary,
  • heartbreaking,
  • heartrending,
  • melancholy,
  • mournful,

What actually causes depression?

According to research, depression isn’t caused by having too much or too little of particular brain chemicals. Depressive disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor mood regulation by the brain, genetic predisposition, stressful life events, drugs, and medical issues.

Which age group has the highest rate of depression?

The percentage of individuals who had any symptoms of depression was highest among those aged 18–29 (21.0%), followed by those aged 45–64 (18.4%), 65 and above (18.4%), and finally those aged 30–44 (18.4%). (16.8 percent ). Women were more likely than men to suffer from depressive symptoms, whether mild, moderate, or severe.


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