Symbolism for depression (7+ symbols & underlying meaning)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the symbolism of depression, clinical features of depression and it’s symptoms, the relationship between depression and it’s symbols, some of the symbols of depression and finally some common questions around the topic.

Symbolism for Depression are:

  • Semicolon
  • Half moon
  • Direction to north
  • Peace sign
  • Poplar tree
  • Fire
  • Direction to north
  • Gloomy and grey weather


Depression is a mood disorder that is often called Unipolar Depression or Major Depressive Disorder. It is one of the most common and prevalent mental disorders.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), the two key symptoms of Depression are Depressed mood and the loss of pleasure and interest, Anhedonia during the same 2-week period. Apart from these two symptoms, Depressive patients also undergo other symptoms such as insomnia and hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation, loss of energy, worthlessness, diminished ability to think and concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation. 

Sign and symptoms of Depression

Some of the sign and symptoms associated with Depression are:

  • Depressed and Low mood
  • Anhedonia
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Worthlessness and Helplessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Thoughts on ending life
  • Difficulty in sleep
  • Irritability and Agitation
  • Fluctuation in appetite
  • Difficulty in decision making.

Symbols and Depression

Symbols are believed to a universal language which adds meaning and deeper understanding of the story.

Tattoos or any kind of symbols for that matter can be an ideal way to express one’s inner feeling and a reminder. Depression affects around more than 300 million people and many often get a tattoo as a coping mechanism. 

Uses or rationale behind symbols

There are different reasons for getting a symbol or tattoo by an individual. It serves a different purpose for the individual. Some of the reasons and rationale behind getting a tattoo are:

  • Mean to express one’s inner feeling and struggle
  • A visual reminder to stay positive and strong
  • A clue for people around you about the difficulties faced and struggle
  • Reinforce their message and word
  • A powerful depiction of understanding depression

For these different reasons, people get a tattoo or often associate their struggle with some kinds of pictorial depiction or reminder. Symbols are often associated with nature, tattoo or with society.

Symbols of Depression

There are different symbols and depictions people use to portray their struggle and journey. Some of the most common depression symbols are:

Associated with nature

Some of the appearances from natural landscapes that are used as a symbol for depression are barren landscapes and cliffs that capture the darkness, despair, their struggle and recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation.

These are believed to be the hallmark of depression and the underlying struggle.

Poplar Trees

Pain and griefs of depression and the funerals are often depicted through poplar trees. 


Half-moon perfectly depicts the challenge faced by people diagnosed with depression. The half symbolises the illuminated and brighter side of the person while the other half depicts the struggle and battle against depression. Since the other half is dark, it means one has given up and sees no hope.

Stagnant Water

A stagnant river whose flow is disrupted by the muds and sand around symbolises the struggle of the individual with depression where they are unable to move ahead. Trapped in the negative thoughts and it’s abyss, the picture is also used to show the struggle of depression.


Self-harm and self-defeating behaviour performed by those with depressive episodes are pictured by fire that symbolises anger, destruction and harm. 

Direction to the north

Seasonal Affective Disorder caused by lack of sunlight and disruption in melatonin is often prevalent in the area receiving less sunlight. The direction towards the north is often used to portray seasonal depression primarily, along with it, it also means death, hostility, cold and death.

Peace sign

Despite the prevalent and well-known symbol of peace with the sign of a circle with lines in the middle bent, it is otherwise seen as a symbol of grief where the circle symbolises head. And the shortline in the circle symbolises the arms reaching to the base meaning hopeless anguish.

Association in society

Other cues from the society to picture the struggle of depression and its symptoms are the bed, isolation, lethargy, volatility and medication are few of the examples that are often associated with depression. 


Semicolon tattoo originated from the project that was initially started by Amy Bleuel in the year 2013. Her focus or mission was to support and encourage people with mental illness and inducing hope in them.

The symbol Semicolon is to the depiction of what it does to a writer, where it means that the story isn’t over moreover, there are more to write. Similarly, it represents the motivation and the will of people diagnosed with depression to move ahead and keep themselves going.

Flower with Semicolon

Rather than a simple and cliche semicolon, adding flowers on it can strengthen and perfectly portray the meaning and message one wishes to convey.

Heart with Semicolon

Heart with a semicolon is a simple yet elegant tattoo as a reminder to love yourself and keep yourself going. Often the semicolon is put on the border of heart to perfectly portray depression and the struggle undertaken.

Hope tattoo

People living with depression can use tattoos like hope that can help them defeat the thought of bleak hope and pessimism. Hope tattoo is a unique one that helps the person to remind of the better days ahead. Paring it with semicolon results in the restart and a new beginning.

Believe tattoo

Since people with depression lack the belief of better things coming ahead and brighter days. Having a word like Believe inscribed acts like an affirmation for them. It can also be a reminder to stay strong, positive and firm to their belief. 

Pairing it with a semicolon can be a strong symbol for the need to live through the dark and gloomy days. 

Breathe tattoo

Breathe tattoo is commonly associated with Anxiety, breath carries the meaning and the importance of recollecting one’s thoughts and refuelling with more positive thoughts and emotions.

Those who are struggling with mindfulness can have this tattoo as a simple reminder to pay attention to managing the symptoms.

Semicolon with Music

Music itself is great therapy and soothing for the person battling with depression. It represents the will to live and pass through the gloomy days.

Koi fish

Koi Fish is the least commonly used symbol to depict depression. The fish signifies the ability to swim through gracefully and steadily through the waterfall. It is a reward for the perseverance shown by the fish against all odds and obstacles. Similarly, those battling with depression often had to live through the hardships and combat the symptoms.

Small Mountains

Depression is believed to be a mountain and the small mountain symbolises the struggle undergone by the individual through steps to combat the depressive symptoms and hardships. The struggle of depression was believed to be a gradual process.


Phoenix is a bird which is believed to arise from ashes, similarly people diagnosed with depression can rise out of their death thoughts and suicidal ideation. 

Semicolon with cross

The picture is a reminder for those with lived experience of depression. It is popular with a meaning that it is a faith that one holds on and their future gets better.

Paws with semicolon

A symbol of semicolon with paw symbolises emotional support and the need of emotional well being. Having such a symbol speaks about the emotional support often provided by their pet and animal.

Symbols of Depression for people with lived experience 


It is to remind that there is no wrong or flaw in having depressive episodes. Believing that they are warriors in battling with mental illness. 


Life can be a blend of past and future, and no one can be an expert of pain and healing.

Not ended

One can have this word as a symbol of their depressive episode. It symbolises how they didn’t give up against the illness and has the motivation to move ahead.

Pi value

It is a mathematical value that reminds the person that despite the world falling apart, they are still the constant in their world. The semicolon with Pi symbol reminds them about the need to keep themselves moving against all the odds.

FAQ: Symbolism for Depression

Is there a symbol for mental health?

Monarch Butterfly is a butterfly which is believed to be the symbol for people affected or are diagnosed with any kind of mental illnesses. 

The butterfly in its early stage living in a cocoon seems more like the withdrawn feeling undergone by the individual. And this is often shared commonly by most of the people battled with mental illnesses.

What animal is associated with depression?

Rodents and Primate shows the sign of sadness and gloominess. Other than that, research studies have shown that most of the mammals have shared a similar brain wiring like humans resulting in depression.

What is a symbol for sadness?

Sadness is often symbolised and depicted by Rain. Rain is the particular weather that brings in feelings of darkness, exhaustion, sadness and loss of hope.

What are the four types of depression?

The major types of depression are Clinical Depression, Persintet Depression Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

What is the tattoo symbol for depression?

Heart with Serotonin is believed to be the tattoo for depression. It is simple yet an elegant one that provides enough reminder and statement of depression. The tattoo also symbolises and implies the person to move forward. 

Why is semicolon a symbol for depression?

Semicolon is used as a symbol for depression where it is believed to be a movement aimed to instill hope and love to the person struggling wit depression, addiction, suicide and self injury. The underlying meaning is “ I’m still here”.


In this brief guide, we discussed the symbolism of depression, clinical features of depression and it’s symptoms, the relationship between depression and it’s symbols, some of the symbols of depression and finally some common questions around the topic.

For more information and symbols, visit the links mentioned below


Cuncic, A. (2020). Depression Tattoos to Support Mental Health. verywell mind.

Legg, T. J. (2019). Inspiring Ink: 5 Depression Tattoos. healthline.

Peterson, T. J. (2020). Symbols of Depression You May Not Have Thought of Before. healthyplace.