How to Write a Depressed Character (10 Tips with Examples)

Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

You’ll have to deal with profound feelings at some point whether you’re writing a book or a short tale: An essential character saying, “I adore you,” for the first time in a romance, a buddy or lover experiencing difficult times in a death scene in a thriller. Getting an emotional reaction from your readers that feels genuine may be challenging, but there are a few techniques.

Depression can be debilitating, and it’s not always easy to read about or write about. However, if you want to write a character that’s depressed, you need to be aware of the ten tips listed below. These tips will help you create a believable and compelling character who suffers from depression.

Top 10 tips to Write a realistic Depressed Character in your Novel

There has been much more talk about mental health on social media and in the news. That is starting to happen in our literature and cinema. They are, however, not 100% right all the time, and they may sometimes oversimplify concerns like suicide into sensationalized sound bites. How do we, as creators, influence that? We’ve put together a list of ten tips for remembering when you’re creating your next character based on our experiences.

Bonus Tip: You can simply write compelling characters using ready-made AI templates. There’s only a need to provide a simple outline of the character to this tool and it will generate a complete character or story for you. Its like magic!

#1 Consider your own emotions

Remember that emotion lies within you, and all that is required is for you to access and express it on the page. By expressing your feelings and translating them to your characters’ emotional conditions via writing activities or questions, you might be able to achieve this in fiction writing. Instead, you might be delving into your characters’ minds and utilizing their histories to connect with their feelings.

#2 Don’t make it ‘too sad’!

The characters who have the most difficulties are those that attract you the most as a writer and reader. They’re also more lifelike. Who do you know who has never had any problems in their lives? Nobody. We all have struggles. Furthermore, conflict — or, again, struggle — is at the heart of the entire notion of a plot. The plot progresses because of this.

That doesn’t mean you should add a depressed character “just because.” Like grief or death, depression is a high-maintenance plot point. It’s essential to see it for yourself.

#3 Always add weight to the backstories

Showing your character’s background may help you generate an emotional response to little things, such as words or even body language. Foreshadowing a sad occurrence with a narrative may make the climactic moment more poignant.

Depression is a serious condition that affects around one in eight American adults. The truth behind sadness and real depression can be hard to identify, especially when it comes to fiction writing or television series.

#4 Leave a little room for a surprise with particular details

If you show and don’t tell, that is how you will generate real emotion that will connect with your readers. When it comes to readers‘ emotions, little occurrences are often more potent than huge, dramatic events or descriptions. This is especially true if your characters’ histories are familiar to them.

Writing a depressed character is crucial to making your story work. The depressed character should be realistic and believable, as well as sympathetic and sympathetic.

#5 Pain isn’t beautiful; remember that!

This pertains to all forms of suffering, but I’d like to focus on depression and suicidal thoughts. The desire to rip out my hair stems from this tendency to associate pain with beauty. The fact that pain is unpleasant does not mean it is unattractive. Pain of any sort is misery. They endured the agony because they had to. That’s like someone tossing you into the pool and then allowing you to swim to safety.

#6 Be accurate, and understand depression first!

This image, on the other hand, isn’t always correct. The facts about mental illnesses are often misunderstood. These problems have been dramatized in literature in all of its forms far too often. Experience of unpleasant feelings, a lack of drive, and a lack of enjoyment feelings are all characteristics of depression. Depression is a complex condition to manage. It’s a ruse. “Good days” and “horrible days” exist.

It isn’t always a sadomasochist who cries and slowly drifts to the floor or flippantly flickers the switch. Everyone experiences it differently due to its complexity. The core of a person’s suffering might remain the same, yet their tale will be unique.

#7 Be practical and real!

Since they were given a pep talk, do not allow the character to emerge from their sadness. That isn’t going to work. It’s possible they’ll notice the issue and want help, which is beneficial. On the other hand, if it makes a person feel like they aren’t being listened to or mocked, they may withdraw even more.

#8 It’s not always visible

It’s unrealistic to expect your character to be in tears all the time, but crying and a dismal demeanor are common signs of melancholy.

Many individuals mask their grief with an effective grin, as previously reported. Depressed people, on the other hand, may experience various symptoms, such as tiredness and rage.

Depression often presents with other mental disorders and may share traits with them. Psychosis may be a symptom of severe depression, and depression and anxiety are frequently mixed.

#9 It’s not always likable!

Do you dislike your pals if they are sad or anxious? No. It may be challenging to be around them sometimes, but you don’t abandon them in distress, do you? That’s unlikely.

Having problems with anything has nothing to do with your likability. The concept itself is incomprehensible. The most difficult characters to write and read about are the most interesting. These are more lifelike as well.

#10 Use sad moments for further development of characters

Remember that your characters are on a quest while you’re writing. You’re only showing a narrow piece of the journey on the page. Your characters, on the other hand, will need to develop and change. Make certain intense emotional situations appropriate in the overall plot in a manner that feels genuine to your characters and tale. Difficult emotional experiences may influence your character.

Top 3 examples of depressed characters

#1 Luna Lovegood from the “Harry Potter” series

Luna Lovegood is often portrayed as an outsider who does not fit in with other students her age. Luna is often seen to be wearing odd clothing, engaging in strange behaviors, and talking about seemingly impossible things. At school, she is seen as an oddball and is often bullied and ridiculed by her classmates. Her parents died when she was nine, which left her with a great deal of emotional pain and loneliness. She often takes solace in her studies and her pet, the magical creature named the Blibbering Humdinger. Luna is described as having an inner strength that allows her to cope with her struggles and still maintain her optimism and kindness. Despite her depression, she is still able to find joy in the small things in life and help her friends, which makes her a heroic character.

#2 Dr. Gregory House from “House.”

Dr. House from House MD is portrayed as a character that suffers from depression in a number of ways. One example is the way he frequently isolates himself and shuts people out. He is often irritable and cynical, and his behavior is often seen as an effort to distance himself from those around him. Additionally, Dr. House is often seen as uninterested in activities that would otherwise bring him pleasure, such as social engagements or hobbies. He also suffers from chronic pain, which can be seen as a physical manifestation of his emotional pain. Finally, he often struggles with making decisions and can be seen as procrastinating or avoiding difficult choices, both of which are classic symptoms of depression.

#3 Chandler Bing from “Friends.”

Chandler Bing from Friends often exhibits signs of low self-worth, loneliness, and pessimism. He is often seen as the “straight man” of the group, making sarcastic and self-deprecating jokes about his own life and his place in the world. Throughout the show, Chandler is shown to be struggling with his own insecurities and self-doubt, which he tries to mask with humor. He is often portrayed as the “unlucky one” of the group due to his bad luck in relationships and other areas of his life. His fear of commitment and abandonment issues also drive his negative outlook on life. All of these behaviors are common signs of depression and Chandler is a great example of how someone can use humor to cope with their inner struggles.

Final Words

Writing a depressed character is not easy. But with the proper tips, you can make your lead character realistic and relatable. Try writing one of these ten tips and see how it goes!

Just remember to balance out the gloomy feelings with happy ones. After all, people who are sad sometimes need some joy in their lives too!

Related FAQs

How can I make my characters more interesting if they’re depressed?

One of the most challenging things about writing believable and likable characters is that they must be able to go through difficult experiences and still maintain a sense of dignity. If your main character is depressed, you can include a few elements to make their experience more realistic and engaging for readers.
First, consider the triggers that send them into melancholy mode. What events or situations set off their depression? How often does this happen? Are there any specific times or places where it becomes particularly intense? Once you know these details, it will be easier to write scenes that explore their emotional journey.
Second, don’t shy away from delving into their thoughts and feelings. Why do they feel this way? Is there anything else going on in their life that may have contributed? Ask yourself questions such as these to better understand who your character is and what’s driving them forward during tough times. This makes it easier for readers to sympathize with them and connect emotionally with the story arc.

Can I use other emotions besides depression in my writing instead of just depression?

You can use other emotions in your writing instead of just depression. Understanding that not every emotion is appropriate for each tale or piece is crucial. If you’re using an emotion that is not generally associated with your topic (for example, anger), consider the impact that this might have on your readers.
If you’re unsure about whether or not a particular emotion is suitable for a specific piece of content, reach out to experts who may be able to give you advice on how best to portray that particular feeling within your work.

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