Movies About Depression May Help People Understand The Illness Better

By: Patricia Oelze

Updated February 27, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown

Depression is a common mental health illness that affects more than 322,000,000 people across the globe. However, it is still not understood by both victims and experts, and some even believe it is not a real illness. In fact, some who have it are ashamed or embarrassed about it, and this stops many people from getting the help they need. This problem has led those in the movie industry to an idea about helping the public understand depression and other mental disorders by producing films about mental health conditions.


A Common Condition Often Misunderstood

One thing that is very important about mental health illnesses such as depression is that they are very real, and while depression affects people in different ways, it is generally common and treatable. As a matter of fact, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and affects approximately 7% of American adults. However, those who suffer from the condition do not care how common it is when they are trying to figure out what is making them so unhappy or exhausted for no obvious reason. While some individuals clearly understand that they are depressed, there are so many more who just have no idea why they are so sad.

Signs Of Depression

The signs of depression can be vague, and it is common for those with the disorder to be diagnosed with some other ailment such as chronic fatigue disorder or just told that it is all "in their head." Some of these symptoms include:

  • Chronic fatigue no matter how much sleep you get
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Forgetting things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Having a hard time making decisions
  • Feeling "foggy" or "out of it."
  • Sleeping less or more than usual
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Lack of energy or feeling "run-down."
  • Feeling sad or hopeless for no reason
  • Anxiousness or stressed out
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others


Seemingly, every year, there are more and more episodes of those with mental disorders like depression who commit suicide or harm others. Whether this is due to their mental health condition or not is usually unclear, but it has been shown that many of those who do so are trying to deal with an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young adults and adolescents, and depression is the leading cause of suicide. Therefore, it is essential that we get the word out about depression and other mental conditions. It is important to let people know how real and how common these illnesses are and that they are very treatable.

Types Of Depression

There are different kinds of depression. While each of these has its own set of symptoms, most of them are similar and share symptoms, making it difficult to tell them apart. However, it is important to find out the type of depression because that makes it easier to treat. The types of depression include:

  • A major depressive disorder is the most common and is characterized by having at least five of the symptoms of depression.
  • A persistent depressive disorder is a type of major depression that continues most days of the week for at least two years.
  • Premenstrual syndrome happens to women who are menstruating and typically start about a week before their period.
  • Bipolar depression is often referred to as manic depression and is characterized by periods of hyperactivity or mania alternating with periods of severe and debilitating depression.
  • Postpartum depression is a serious condition affecting new mothers and can be severe enough to risk the life of them or their new baby.
  • The seasonal affective disorder is a depression that typically only affects people during the winter months when there is less sunshine.

Causes Of Depression

Although there is no real "cause of depression," there are many risk factors and commonalities. For example, women are twice as likely as men to get the disorder, and it affects those in their 30s more often than any other age group. Some other commonalities or risk factors include:

  • Previous history of a mental health disorder
  • Mental illness in the family
  • Environmental factors like poverty, trauma, or abuse
  • Hormone imbalance as in premenstrual syndrome
  • A chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Lack of sunlight such as with seasonal affective disorder
  • Medical disorders such as heart disease, cancer, or Parkinson's disorder
  • Certain medications

Movies About Depression

With all of the interest in mental health in the media recently, the movie industry has been more actively portraying characters with mental illnesses in films. There have been some fantastic movies made about mental health disorders while there are also some extremely bad ones. However, bringing mental health into the forefront and getting people talking about it is vital to getting help to those who need it. Some depression movies have portrayed those with the disorder that has no idea what was wrong with them and believe that they are just alone in the world, trying to deal with their feelings on their own. Others have followed people trying to fight depression while those around them are telling them it is "all in their head."

13 Reasons Why


One of the most publicized movies about teenage depression lately is the 2017 Netflix miniseries "13 Reasons Why" based on a young adult novel written by Jay Asher in 2007. This dramatic and heartbreaking story is about Hannah Baker, a high school student with depression who commits suicide but leaves recorded tapes about what she considers to be the 12 people involved in the reason why she took her life. The film was criticized as being too realistic, and many even said that it caused an increase in teen suicide. However, this is an excellent depiction of teen suicide and depression that was realistic, which is what makes it such a great movie.

Little Miss Sunshine

Another movie about mental illness is one of the best movies to watch when you're depressed. The film, "Little Miss Sunshine," is a more lighthearted and humorous depiction of depression that revolves around a young girl whose dysfunctional family all suffer from some type of depression except for her. Even though the movie includes serious subjects such as suicide and abuse, the general feeling of the film is more humor than it is drama. Those who suffer from depression can benefit from this movie by seeing how a family can depend on each other when they need to while those who are unfamiliar with the illness can see the subtle and not-so-subtle symptoms of depression.

Movies To Watch When Depressed

Did you have a bad day at work, or have you had a run of bad luck lately, making you feel frustrated or sad? Maybe you are clinically depressed and just starting treatment or have yet to start treatment. No matter what is getting you down, watching a "feel good" movie can seriously make you feel better. According to many experts, movies that make you laugh are capable of increasing endorphins, which are the hormones that improve your mood. Have you ever heard the saying, "fake it until you make it?" Laughing and smiling are reported to be very effective in making you feel better, even when it is a fake smile, but when it is a real laugh or smile, that is even more effective than faking it, of course. So, why not grab a comedy flick and have a movie night?

Inside Out

An interesting option in depression videos is the 2015 animated movie "Inside Out." The film is not just for kids as it gives the entire family something to think and talk about. This cute show is about the different emotions in a young girl's mind, which include Disgust, Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Joy. Each of the emotions is depicted as a character, and they are shown working together to help the young girl adjust to a difficult life situation. This is a very well-made and modern way to look at different emotions and an excellent way to talk to younger children about their feelings.


If Depression Were A Monster

If you are just looking for a short depression video, one of the best is a film without words called, "If Depression Were a Monster," by BFMP. This poignant two-minute video with absolutely no spoken words communicates more about depression than most full-length and fully scripted movies. It goes through 24 hours of a young woman's life with a life-sized blue plush monster following her around that represents her depression. The monster shows how it feels to have such a burden following you through life. In one of the scenes, it shows another person with a monster who also has depression, and another has the monster giving the woman glasses of alcohol to drink to help make him go away. But he always stays in the background.

A Day In The Life Of Depression

This short video is narrated by Wentworth Miller, who opens up about his struggle with depression. In "A Day in the Life of Depression," the inner thoughts of some people living with depression are given voices to express how they are feeling inside. Some of the thoughts they share include, "I'm tired," "I just want it all to stop," and "Will I ever be happy?" In less than two minutes, you can hear the internal monologues of all these individuals that you may also be feeling. In the end, Miller encourages those with depression to reach out for help. This is an important issue, and if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or any other mental health disorder, contact a mental health professional for help. You can click here to get help from right now.

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