I recently saw a question in a writers group on Facebook asking what a young woman with depression would look like. All the usual stereotypes came out about someone not looking after themselves came out… but here’s something you should know – someone with depression looks just like you.
Depression is invisible , and most people with depression, myself included, are very good at hiding how they feel behind a mask. They may look a bit tired, but many people do, but overall, they look ‘normal’.
The first time I was diagnosed with depression, I had recently had my first child. I had post-natal depression and I wasn’t coping. When I mentioned it to someone at playgroup, they were shocked. I had been able to hide the fact I wasn’t coping so well. I didn’t look like someone with depression.
Even now, I have bouts of depression, but I still get up in the morning, have a shower and get dressed. I brush my hair and do what I have to to get through the day. Even those who know me well may not be able to tell when depression is taking hold by my appearance alone.
If you’ve never experienced depression yourself and you’re looking to describe what someone with depression looks like, they don’t always look the way you would be expecting. Instead of looking disheveled and unkempt, they may overcompensate with brightly coloured clothes or extra make up. They may change their hair colour or style or they may do none of these and just look the way they have always done.
One of the issues around depression is how it’s portrayed, and the assumption that someone with depression looks different to everyone else. A great way to help reduce the stigma around depression is with more realistic representation of someone who has depression.
If you’re creating a character with depression, look past the stereotypes and see that depression can hit anyone, and most of those with depression are really good at hiding it. With this in mind, the person would look the way they usually do, and those around them wouldn’t be able to tell they are depressed by their outward appearance.