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Dealing with depression can be a difficult concept to understand, especially when you are not that knowledgeable about psychology. In addition, depression is one of the most sensitive topics when it comes to mental health.
But we believe that depression is a topic that all people should learn about. Regardless of whether you are currently dealing with it or not, it is a struggle that we all need to understand.
In this post, we have gathered a list of the best movies about dealing with depression. Whether you are in a close relationship with a depressed individual, or exhibiting signs of depressive behavior yourself, we hope that these movies can help you better comprehend what it means to be depressed
Let’s check out our list of the best movies about depression.
1. Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine comes with a powerhouse cast and a heartfelt storyline. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (a husband-and-wife team), this movie has enjoyed great success and is one of the best movies that deals with depression and other mental illnesses.
The main story is about a little girl named Olive who goes on a journey to win the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. With a supportive mother, father, and grandfather, and two other family members that cannot be left alone, the whole family goes on a trip to California where the competition is to be held.
Family tensions start to rise while on the road. As these tensions grow, everyone discovers the personal issues and mental state that they are dealing with. And as the trip progresses, everyone realizes that they actually need each other’s love and support.
Little Miss Sunshine portrays how our family members play a significant role in our lives, especially when we are struggling with depression, suicide ideation, or other mental issues. It teaches us a very important lesson—that it is okay not to be okay, and that we can always find comfort in our family and home.
2. Prozac Nation
If you know Prozac, then you probably know what this film is all about. For those who are unaware, Prozac is an antidepressant drug that is used to treat several different psychological disorders, like depression, panic attacks, and even bulimia nervosa (a eating disorder).
This movie is about the drug and a Harvard journalism student who has just started her college life, but soon ends up experiencing symptoms of depression. Due to the circumstances surrounding her family, love life, friendships, and achievements, plus the fact that she has been suffering from substance abuse, she separates herself from everyone and begins to cycle through the stages of emotional instability.
She then seeks the help of a psychiatrist and is prescribed Prozac. But while she has good results at first, she feels that she is depending on the drug to much, and that it is consuming her. She wants to numb the pain through the use of the drug, but instead of helping her, it seems to have taken control of her life.
Prozac Nation is based on the autobiography of Elizabeth Wurtzel, who struggled from atypical depression. A lot of experts believe that it has contributed to mental health awareness. In their words, “Wurtzel helped normalize depression.” If you are looking for a movie that can help you understand depression, we suggest checking out this film.
Cake may not be the highest-grossing film of all time, but it is certainly one of the finest if you are looking for movies about depression. While it received a lot of unfavorable reviews from movie critics, many health professionals agree that it flawlessly depicts what it is like to undergo chronic pain and major depressive disorder.
The story revolves around Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) and her journey towards healing. She starts out suffering from chronic pain disorder after the death of her son in a car accident, and this eventually develops into severe depression. She joins a support group to cope up with her illness, but she doesn’t get serious about the process until she learns of Nina, a member of the support group who commits suicide.
What is amazing about this movie is that Jennifer Aniston is able to portray perfectly what a patient with chronic pain and depressive behavior feels like. Her character goes through a series of events that change her views on depression and reveals to her how wanting to be better plays an important role in actually getting better.
This film gives us hope that we can overcome depression as long as we are willing to heal, and as long as we are surrounded by the right people who genuinely care for us.
4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a mixture of a light drama and a feel-good movie. The drama comes from the depiction of struggling with mental illnesses like depression, overthinking, and anxiety disorders, while the feel-good element comes from overcoming these issues with the help of friends and a community full of love and compassion.
Starring Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, and Zach Galifianakis, the film is about a high school student who is suicidal named Craig (Gilchrist), who admits himself to a psychiatric ward after a suicide attempt. He meets Bobby (Galifianakis), who becomes his first friend, and then Noelle (Roberts), who becomes his friend and love interest.
The movie is about how people struggling with mental issues can still find joy and happiness through therapy and healing. But more than that, it teaches us that depression doesn’t only come from negative factors such as trauma, abuse, and grief—it can also be the result of simply existing without truly living and then having intensely irrational thoughts about sadness and melancholy.
5. The Hours
The Hours is a star-studded psychological drama that portrays the lives of three women suffering from different levels of depression. These women are Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), and Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), all of whom are connected by Woolf’s 1925 novel titled Mrs. Dalloway.
The movie is divided into three settings: modern-day 2000, the capitalist age of 1950, and the roaring 1920s. Vaughn is a New Yorker aiding her poet friend who suffers from AIDS, Brown is a pregnant Californian living in an unhappy marriage, and Woolf is an English writer suffering from depression and irrational thoughts while finishing her novel.
Although from different eras, these three women experience the same pain and struggles as Mrs. Dalloway. Being the author of the book, Woolf has written down all the possible feelings that Mrs. Dalloway could have felt. Vaughn and Brown—and perhaps all the readers—experience through the book how it is to live in loneliness and depression.
We recommend this movie to anyone who feels like they are suffering from severe loneliness. We also suggest it to those who have friends or family members who are suffering from mental illnesses. This movie can definitely help you understand what it means to be lonely and depressed.
Melancholia comes highly recommended, especially by those who are exhibiting signs of depression and other mental illnesses. It is a masterpiece that fits in both the science fiction and drama genres, and was written and directed by genius filmmaker Lars von Trier. The movie has a star-studded cast, with Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg as the main protagonists.
The story is a tale of two sisters, Justine (Dunst) and Claire (Gainsbourg), who have totally different outlooks on life. Justine suffers from severe depression, while Claire embraces life at its finest. However, everything gets turned on its head when a new planet called Melancholia is reported to be approaching Earth and predicted to cause great destruction.
As Melancholia comes closer, Justine starts to recover from her depressive state. It seems as if she is ready to welcome death and humanity’s extinction with open arms. For her, this is the only way to escape her dark thoughts. Claire, on the other hand, becomes nervous and starts to feel fear and uncertainty for herself and her family. The apocalypse seems to have awakened her sense life’s futility.
Considered one of the best movies about depression by The New York Times and one of the best films of the 21st century by several critics, Melancholia is a must-see movie for those who want to understand everything about depression. It is also highly recommended for those who are suffering from the illness, as it helps them realize that the world understands their fears and emotions.
7. The Skeleton Twins
The Skeleton Twins was directed by Craig Johnson and stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. It is a comedy-drama film that follows the story of estranged twins Maggie and Milo, who were separated when they were younger, but eventually reunited after finding out that they tried to commit suicide on the same day. This reunion was what they needed to fix their lives and their relationship with one another.
This film received favorable reviews from movie critics because it helped increase mental health awareness. It also helped normalize feelings such as sadness, anxiety, and depression. It didn’t have to be dramatic or dark to help people realize the seriousness of these disorders, but it still managed to open the eyes of viewers to the fact that talking and communicating can be a great way to cope up with feelings of depression.
If you want a light yet meaningful film about depression, we recommend checking out this one. As most critics suggest, it is a movie that can help you understand the cause of depression, how it affects our daily lives, and how you can take action to recover from it.
Numb tells the story of Hudson Milbank, a successful screenwriter diagnosed with depression and depersonalization disorder. It is a dark romantic comedy in which Hudson eventually meets Sara, a young and beautiful woman who introduces him to a world full of positive emotions and wonderful experiences.
This movie helps people understand what being depressed and depersonalized feel like. It is pretty obvious from the title—Numb—that there are moments when you feel disconnected, like your soul is literally detached from your mind and body. You cannot feel anything, no matter how much medication you take or how much support those around you provide.
The movie also shares a lesson that we all need to learn when it comes to mental illness—the dangers of overprescription. Medical drugs are designed to supplement the healing process. They are not the primary answer in dealing with mental illnesses. Above all, the most important thing is a willingness to heal and a desire to take action.
9. Garden State
Garden State is considered one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and emotionally touching movies of all time. It is based on the real-life experiences of actor-director Zach Braff, and has received numerous awards and recognition.
The story is about a guy named Andrew Largeman (Braff) who returns to his hometown after his mother’s death. He deals grief and depression, and is highly medicated with all of the drugs his father made him believe he needed. But as the story progresses, he starts to reconnect with the people from his past and begins a genuine relationship with a girl (Natalie Portman) who has a positive outlook on life.
What this movie helps us realize is that depression involves a lot more than loneliness. It can be quite dangerous, because it numbs you in ways you wouldn’t believe were possible. The movie helps communicate the feeling of emptiness that many people experience when they grieve and suffer.
Fortunately, there are several ways to cope with depression and other mental illnesses. As this movie suggests, self-reflection, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness play very important roles in changing a person’s perspective. Along with the right kind of medicine and therapy, these tools can help you live the happy life you deserve.
Most people think that depression is the result of a traumatizing event, a nerve-racking childhood experience, or a maddening sense of pressure. The truth, however, is that depression can happen for any number of reasons—or no reason at all. When it hits, it is often all-consuming, regardless of the person’s circumstances or life experiences. This is what the movie Helen teaches us.
Helen (played by Ashley Judd) is a woman who has it all—caring friends, a supportive husband, a lovable child, a stable job, and an overall happy life. But then one day, she suddenly has a massive breakdown, which causes her severe depression and anxiety attacks. She can’t pinpoint what caused this breakdown, but she knows that she is unhappy and that there is something wrong.
Luckily, she has a loving husband and daughter who genuinely cares for her and helps her recover. She also meets a new friend who teaches her how to accept and handle her depression. With the help of these people, she is able to regain control over her life and emotions.
Depression is no joke, and it can rob people of their happiness. Even if you have been living a life of bliss and success, you can never tell when depression might pop up. The important thing is to have a strong support network of people who love and support you.
11. World’s Greatest Dad
World’s Greatest Dad is a satirical black comedy-drama starring Robin Williams, Alexie Gilmore, and Daryl Sabara. It is about a dad who uses his son’s humiliating death to achieve notoriety.
This movie is a masterpiece. It could have been really dark and cynical, but the humor in it gives the story a somehow light yet meaningful sense of purpose. It shares the story of a man who is given a chance to escape from an empty life, but ends up losing his self-respect.
This movie also helps increase mental health awareness. In the film, the father is clearly depressed, and his depression is what persuades him to come up with a very convincing suicide note for his son. The note causes people to recognize how “talented” his son was, even though he didn’t actually write the note himself.
This movie serves as a reminder that we need to take a break every once in a while to communicate and stay in touch with those who we share our lives with.
12. Girl, Interrupted
Girl, Interrupted has a star-studded cast and an outstanding storyline. It is based on Susanna Kaysen’s memoir of the same title, which is a record of her experiences after entering a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt. Although the movie received mixed reviews, it is praised for its accurate depiction of various mental illnesses.
Depression is not the sole issue in this movie. A lot of other conditions are introduced, such as schizophrenia, anorexia, and anti-social personality disorder. Susanna was even diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. During her stay in the hospital, she was able to understand what these illnesses are and how they affect the people who have them.
This movie demonstrates the fact that depression is often accompanied by other mental health disorders. And regardless of age, gender, or background, depression can hit without prior warning. Most importantly, the symptoms may not be obvious to other people—but they are there just the same.
The lesson we can learn from this film is that we need to stay connected to the people that we love. We may see them as happy and cheerful, but in reality, they might need our help and are simply afraid to ask for it.
American poet and short-story writer Sylvia Plath is widely known for her works about loneliness and depression. She is also one of the pioneers of confessional poetry, a writing style that emerged during the 1950s. But perhaps the most striking thing about Plath is her death by suicide following her separation from her husband, a fellow writer, Ted Hughes.
This is what the movie Sylvia is all about—how both Plath and Hughes fell in love and found their soul mates in each other, but also how they came to a point where they needed to separate. The story starts happily, but in tragedy when Sylvia takes her own life. Nevertheless, it shows how Sylvia tries to regain her happiness amidst all her depressing thoughts and circumstances.
The movie is somewhat sad, since it portrays the life of a real person who suffered from depression and ends up taking their own life. However, we can also look at Sylvia’s life as something that can help us understand more people who exhibit signs of depression. Her story can be a lesson to us that taking good care of our relationships is one major way to help prevent tragedies like this from happening.
Final Thoughts on Movies about Dealing with Depression
Depression and other mental illnesses are no joke. We may not see the signs, but that doesn’t change the fact that depression can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to be aware of this, and to learn ways to help ourselves or others deal with depression.
We hope that the movies we shared above can help you become more aware of what depression is and how to deal with it appropriately. Check these films out and raise your awareness. Who knows—you might just end up saving a loved one’s life.
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.
See more movies about dealing with different types of mental illness:
- 21 Best Movies About Anxiety to Watch
- 21 Best Films That Explore Mental Illness
- 25 Movies with Autistic or Asperger's Syndrome Characters