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Can a Tattoo Improve Your Mental Health?

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Surviving depression and other mental health issues is challenging. Depression can affect your physical and mental health and strain close relationships, work, and daily activities. If you are reading this, you’ve probably endured and fought depression successfully. While several therapies can help depressed persons improve their quality of life, some people resort to getting permanent tattoos.

Getting a depression tattoo is a declaration and personal reminder of the tough times you’ve overcome. Some people also get depression tattoos as a show of support for those battling depression and mental health issues. If you are afraid of getting a tattoo because of the pain involved, most professionals currently use numbing cream from Numbered Ink and other supplies to reduce pain intensity. Below, we explore whether being tattooed can really improve your mental health:

Are tattoos good for mental health?

Tattoos serve as permanent reminders of someone’s dark past, especially their journey through depression. Several studies suggest that tattoos potentially improve mental health. For instance;

  •  A 2017 study found that tattoos are perceived as an option for people who want to express their individuality
  • 92% of tattooed people are happy with the art
  •  A 2011 study found that tattoos improve self-esteem and body appreciation. It also reduces appearance anxiety

Tattoos are generally a process of reflection. Some people experience deep reflection by sitting and watching tattoo artists mark their skin. A large percentage of those affected choose tattoos with meaning. Tattoos also provide ink therapy. This is one of the unpopular therapies that can improve mental health. Here’s how tattoos can also improve mental health:

  • Encourages camaraderie among those battling depression
  • Helps during the grieving period
  • An outlet for emotional expression
  • Increases awareness about mental health
  • Demonstrates a sense of commitment
  • Boosts body image and self-esteem

What are the best depression tattoos?

If you’ve considered getting inked, below are common depression tattoos:

  • The traditional semicolon. The semicolon tattoo is popularly associated with depression. It is mostly used by those who’ve survived suicidal thoughts and attempts and serves as a reminder that their story and life purpose aren’t over yet.
  • Heart with a semicolon. You can spice up the traditional semicolon in many ways. In this case, you can combine the semicolon with the image of a heart. This simple tattoo is a reminder to keep going and always love yourself.
  • Hope tattoo. Most people struggling with depression often feel useless and develop a sense of a bleak future. Depressed persons can’t imagine a brighter future, especially if facing serious problems beyond their control. This tattoo is a constant reminder of better days ahead, regardless of their situation.
  • Semicolon with a musical note. Music therapy can help improve your mood. Pairing the semicolon with a musical note is perfect for musicians or those who feel relieved listening to music.
  • Paw print. Cat lovers struggling with mental health issues find the paw print interesting. Beyond being ordinary pets, cats and other animals are excellent emotional support animals.


While it seems unbelievable, tattoos can positively affect your mental health. You can ink the body to highlight your troubles and tribulations or commemorate an important event. You can also get inked to appreciate the artistry. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental health issues, a tattoo can improve your mental health and quality of life.

Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle. 

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