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Movies About Depression That Perfectly Capture the Experience

Depression is a mental disorder characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness. It can cause various physical and psychological symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide. It affects people of all ages. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 17 million+ adults experience major depressive episodes at least once annually in the United States. Depression rates were higher among adults. With nearly one in five suffering from mental illness, it’s no surprise that depression and other mental diseases are not only a common theme in films. 

Many of us can identify with it, even if we aren’t always comfortable acknowledging it. There is a practical approach to visibility and hearing in movies about depression. We can connect with characters and tales that feel authentic to us, making us feel less alone. Seeing characters battling with and managing depression is also a powerful way of destigmatizing mental illness and instilling empathy and compassion in the audience. 

Movies can be a powerful tool to start conversations about mental health and make a real difference. Depression is a universal and significant issue in art, so here are some of the finest movies to understand its complexity. It can also help us understand depression in various forms and learn how to navigate our mental health. 

Understanding Movies About Depression: Is it Necessary?

Many people face depression. It can be challenging to comprehend and navigate. But, are films on depression necessary for people to understand the problem fully?

Movies about depression might offer an alternative viewpoint on the subject. They also help us to learn about various coping techniques and treatments. Some films use leading actors to make depression discussions more approachable. They let us relate to individuals dealing with depression and provide settings that depict what it’s like to live with mental illness.

Since a movie is an artist’s vision, many filmmakers feature their own depression experiences in their work. Movies can be a powerful tool to start conversations about depression and break the stigma associated with mental illness. They can also help people struggling with depression to feel less alone. 

Is Cinema Therapy a thing?

Cinema therapy is used to treat depression. Films can give insight into a person’s mental state and help them uncover and resolve any underlying issues. Cinema therapy helps depression patients in many ways. It can help people to explore and understand their thoughts and feelings. Films can help people gain perspective on their situation.

Film therapy can be used in both individual and group settings. It can be adapted to meet the needs of the individual. For example, some therapists may recommend certain films to help a person explore a particular issue or emotion. Others may use films to provide comfort and relief. 

Therapists say that movies from childhood can be soothing for some teenagers. Immersing yourself in another world and focusing on the characters, narrative, and story might let you forget about your issues even if it is temporary.

Cinema therapy is a promising therapy for depression. It is a safe, non-judgmental space for people to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It can also provide escapism and relaxation, which helps people more connected to the world and themselves. With proper guidance and support, cinema therapy can be a powerful tool in managing depression.

Top Movies About Depression 

A psychiatrist ‘Irfana Parveen’ from Practical Anxiety Solutions suggests you to watch the below mentioned movies. This will get you through the depressive surroundings and know about various aspects of a person is depressive state.

  • Anomalisa

Anomalisa is an animated comedy-drama film directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. The film portrays the story of Michael Stone, a motivational book author, and his success in customer service and corporate efficiency. Stone is clinically depressed, despite being an expert on helping people live better, happier lives. He despises himself and feels alienated from the world.

Stone considers everyone else nearly identical, and sees himself as an outsider, reflecting on the existential problems of living with depression. Until he meets Lisa, an anomaly in his universe, and feels something for the first time. 

This thought-provoking film delves deeply into love and relationship issues, as well as selfishness and decisions in the context of depression. It is a masterwork from the seasoned director. Anomalisa is a poignant and thoughtful exploration of how we connect and cope with one another in an increasingly disconnected world.

  • World’s Greatest Dad

World’s Greatest Dad is a black comedy-drama film written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. This serious, thought-provoking drama explores depression and mental illness. The film stars Robin Williams as Lance Clayton and tells the story of Lance Clayton, a failed author and high school poetry teacher who turns to extreme measures when his son, Kyle, dies due to an autoerotic asphyxiation accident.

To make his son look like a hero in death, Lance fakes a suicide note and stages a suicide. Through this act, Lance becomes a media sensation and can gain the admiration of his son that he never could have achieved in life. With the help of his best friend, Lance tries to keep his secret from the world, all while struggling with his conscience. World’s Greatest Dad is a poignant exploration of the complexities of fatherhood, the power of regret, and the importance of forgiveness.

  • Cake

‘Cake’ is a 2014 drama movie directed by Daniel Barnz and starring Jennifer Aniston in the lead role of Claire Simmons. Set in Los Angeles, the movie follows Claire as she struggles to cope with chronic pain and depression after losing her son in a car accident. Her grief and hopelessness over her recovery make her feel as if all she can do is complain about life.

Claire’s life changes when she meets her support group’s newest member, Nina Collins. As Claire and Nina connect, Claire realizes she must learn to embrace her pain and take control of her life. 

Through her journey, Claire finds the courage to accept her circumstances and forgive herself. Ultimately, she finds strength and understanding in her life. With its powerful performances and gripping story, Cake is an emotionally charged and thought-provoking exploration of the human spirit’s resilience.

  • The Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton Twins is a 2014 independent comedy-drama film starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as fraternal twins Maggie and Milo. The movie narrates the tale of a brother and sister who had become distant from each other but reunite following the brother’s suicide attempt, which prompts the sister to contemplate the same.

After ten years of estrangement, Maggie and Milo reunite in their hometown of Nyack, New York. The film follows the two individuals through their attempts to reunite and overcome past struggles. Maggie works as a dental assistant and is in a loveless marriage, while Milo is an aspiring actor living in Los Angeles. Despite their differences, the twins take solace in one another and try to mend their broken relationship. 

They discovered that both have more in common than they thought and that family is essential in times of distress. As the story progresses, they learn how depression affects their lives. 

  • Interiors

‘Interiors’ is a Woody Allen film. The film portrays the family breakdown as the father leaves the mother because he is tired of caring for her. She suffers from severe depression and dementia. Eve, the mother, tried to commit suicide. She then spent years in a sanitorium regularly.

The movie follows each family member as they grapple with the situation, in their own unique and sometimes dramatic ways. Joey, one of her daughters, cares for her. Joey takes her worry and anger out on her. Their relationship exemplifies how depression leads to resentment cycles within families. 

Through a series of vignettes, the movie paints a picture of a family facing tremendous grief. However, the family finds the strength to stick together and support one another in their darkest hour. Interiors is a dramatic and heartbreaking exploration of loss and grief and an homage to the resilient human spirit.

  • Garden State

Garden State follows the story of Andrew Largeman (Braff), a 26-year-old actor/waiter who returns to his hometown in New Jersey after his mother’s death. The film is a romantic comedy-drama written and directed by Zach Braff. 

Andrew Largeman returns to his hometown after nine years to attend his mother’s funeral. He blames himself for the accident that left his mother crippled and ultimately dying. The weight of his guilt has rendered him apathetic and numb to life.

Upon his return, he reconnects with old friends, meets a mysterious young woman (Natalie Portman), and discovers a newfound purpose in life. The film widely gained appraisal for its nuanced and honest depiction of mental illness. 

  • Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama film that tells the story of a family’s cross-country journey to a beauty pageant. The film starring Steve Carell, is a dark comedy that shows how depression affects entire families. Except for Olive, the titular character, and her youngest daughter, all Faris family members suffer from depression. Their mental health problems frequently prompt them to lash out at one another, exacerbating their sadness.

The family includes seven-year-old Olive; her father, an unsuccessful motivational speaker; her mother, a stressed-out working mom; her brother, a Nietzsche-reading teen; her uncle, a gay professor recovering from a suicide attempt; and her grandfather, a foul-mouthed Vietnam veteran.

Despite numerous obstacles, the family embarks on an 800-mile road trip to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California. Along the way, they learn lessons about themselves, each other, and their family. Ultimately, they find acceptance in each other and the courage to be who they are. 

  • Numb

Numb is a psychological thriller starring Matthew Perry and Lynn Collins. Numb tells the story of Hudson Milbank, a renowned screenwriter whose psychiatrist diagnoses him with depression and depersonalization disorder. He begins to feel disconnected or detached from his body and mind.

In an attempt to flee, he escapes, where he encounters a mysterious woman. Together, they embark on a strange journey that leads to unexpected consequences. While medication is often necessary for depression sufferers.

Numb confronts the problem of overprescribing drugs without addressing the core issues and problems it causes. It is a powerful story that speaks about the struggles of dealing with mental health issues and finding peace. It is an emotionally-charged film that stays with the viewer long after the credits roll.

  • The Hours

The Hours is a film released in 2002 and directed by Stephen Daldry. This riveting drama chronicles the parallel lives of three twentieth-century women: the legendary writer Virginia Woolf, an unhappy 1950s housewife, and a modern-day book editor with her former boyfriend dying of AIDS.

The film portrays the lives of two women who read Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway.” Mrs. Dalloway is a novel about an affluent, depressed woman living in England after World War I. The film details the struggles and joys experienced by the three women as they learn to cope with their past and present lives. 

Ultimately, the film is a testament to female friendship. It shows how it can support and understanding in times of difficulty. The Hours is an emotionally powerful and thought-provoking story impacts the viewers to stay connected till the credits roll.

  • Prozac Nation

Prozac Nation is a 2001 autobiographical film based on Elizabeth Wurtzel’s best-selling novel. The movie follows young author Elizabeth’s struggles as she attempts to cope with her depression, substance abuse, and mental health issues. ‘Prozac Nation’ was directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg. The film explores the effects of antidepressants and the struggles of living with a mood disorder.

This film depicts Elizabeth’s fight with depression as she begins her first year at Harvard. The strain of success drives her into profound depression and erratic behavior. She eventually gets prescribed Prozac and experiences some improvements in her mental health. However, Elizabeth soon discovers that Prozac is not a miracle cure and still struggles with depression.

Overall, Prozac Nation is an honest and powerful look at the difficulties of living with a mood disorder. It also shows how antidepressants can be both helpful and detrimental. It is a must-watch movie for anyone seeking for insight into mental illness struggles.

  • Gravity

Gravity is a 2013 science fiction movie that follows two astronauts, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). They struggle to survive in space after their space shuttle is destroyed. As the two astronauts attempt to reach safety, they must battle the intense and unforgiving forces of the cosmos. They must return home alive. 

The movie offers a realistic and exciting portrayal of life in space. It provides a thought-provoking analysis of the human condition.

Gravity appears to be a space adventure. It’s also a compelling depiction of depression, loneliness, and separation. Gravity is a thrilling, exhilarating, and unforgettable experience with its beautiful visuals and intense action sequences.

  • Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea is an American drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. The movie follows the story of Lee Chandler, a depressed, brooding handyman from Boston, who returns to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea, following his brother’s death.

After his brother Joe’s (Kyle Chandler) death, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to know that Joe has made him Patrick’s sole guardian. Lee reluctantly returns to his hometown to care for his nephew. While there, he confronts his past mistakes. These include a devastating incident that left his ex-wife Randi and his children heartbroken. 

Ultimately, the film is a heart-wrenching story of grief, love, and redemption that explores the complexities of family bonds and the power of forgiveness. 

  • Silver linings playbook

Silver Linings Playbook features Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro in a story focused on a former teacher, Pat Solitano. The film portrays Bradley Cooper as a football fanatic suffering from manic depression. It also stars Jennifer Lawrence as a bereaved lady who falls in love with him despite their mental health concerns.

Pat was recently released from a mental health facility and is determined to reunite with his estranged wife, Tiffany. Tiffany and Pat’s relationship is strained after Pat learns about Tiffany’s affair. Later, Pat agrees to participate in a dance competition with Tiffany to gain his son’s custody. 

As the film progresses, they learn to understand and accept each other. Silver Linings Playbook is a story of hope and resilience in the face of adversity. It is a story of overcoming odds and finding joy in life’s struggles. The film offers a refreshingly honest perspective on mental health.

  • Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a romantic comedy movie directed by Max Barbakow. The story follows Nyles, a wedding guest stuck in a time loop. He meets Sarah, the maid of honor, and falls in love with her. Palm Springs shows that these two characters have their issues. When Sarah meets Nyles, she realizes that both are unhappy, lonely, and depressed people.

The film follows the adventures as they try to break the time loop and find a way to be together. A clear allegory of depression and anxiety, both of Palm Springs’ lead characters experience trauma and mistakes from the past. 

Palm Springs is a light-hearted, charming movie that will make viewers laugh and cry. It is a modern-day twist on a classic love story with a unique take on time travel. 

  • End Of The Tour

End of the Tour is a 2015 film based on the true story of Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s five-day journey with acclaimed author David Foster Wallace. The film, directed by James Ponsoldt stars Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. 

The film go through the two men as they discuss life, literature, and fame as they travel across the Midwest. The film discusses self-consciousness, addiction, anxiety, and depression.

The story revolves around flashbacks to the journey and present-day interviews with Lipsky. The film captures Wallace’s complexity and the impact he had on Lipsky. End of the Tour is a poignant and thought-provoking film that will linger with viewers long after the credits roll.

  • It is Kind of a Funny Story

The film ‘It is A Kind of Funny Story’ is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, based on the 2006 novel by Ned Vizzini. The story follows 16-year-old Craig Gilner, who checks himself into a mental health clinic to deal with his depression. The majority of his depression stems from his assumption that any failure will ruin him in the long run. 

During his stay, he meets many characters, including Bobby, a formerly suicidal patient, and Noelle, an artistic girl. Throughout the story, Craig must confront his depression, learn to take responsibility and build relationships with the people around him. 

The film is a heartwarming story of self-discovery, acceptance, and friendship, and ultimately provides an optimistic view of a teenager dealing with mental health issues.

  • Mystic River

Mystic River is an American drama film directed by Clint Eastwood in 2003. The film follows three childhood friends from the working-class Boston neighborhood of East Buckingham who are reunited and whose lives are shaken when one suffers a family tragedy.

The story follows the characters through flashbacks to their childhoods. The film meditates on how choices can have long-term and profound effects. Mystic River is a powerful story of tragedy and redemption, exploring the complex relationships between its characters and the consequences of their actions.

  • Pulse

Pulse is a science fiction horror film released in 2006. Directed by Jim Sonzero, it follows the story of a group of college students who discover a website that allows them to enter the minds of the recently deceased. 

This horror film illustrates major depression with a twist. But what appears to be a mental health problem turns out to be a much larger evil that his team must come together to stop from taking over the planet.

The film stars Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder, Christina Milian, and Jonny Rees. Pulse is an exciting blend of horror and science fiction. The film is visually stunning, with special effects, and has a haunting soundtrack. 

  • In her Skin

In Her Skin tells the story of teenager Rachel Barber, who went missing in Australia and is presumed dead. In Her Skin shows some of the negative consequences of an unsolved mental health issue.

The film chronicles the events as family and friends cope with the tragedy and a police investigation starts. As the search for Rachel intensifies, the film delves into the lives of those closest to her and unravels the truth of what happened.

The film is a gripping account of a family in crisis, where tragedy and confusion reign. In Her Skin is a powerful tale of the consequences of hidden secrets and the lengths people will go to to protect themselves.

  • Melancholia

Melancholia is a 2011 film directed by Lars von. The story follows two sisters, Justine and Claire, as they struggle in a mysterious planet on a collision course with Earth. Justine has deep depression, while Claire desperately tries to keep her family together. As the planet, Melancholia draws closer to Earth, Justine’s depression grows deeper. 

A sense of impending doom grips the family. It’s difficult for her to consider the consequences of her actions. In the end, Justine and Claire accept their fate and come to understand what seems inevitable.

Melancholia is a powerful exploration of depression, grief, and the human capacity to accept the unknown. According to The New York Times, Justine evokes “acute anguish and the paralyzing hollowness of depression” in “Melancholia.”

  • Side Effects

Side Effects is a 2013 psychological thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. It follows the story of Emily Taylor, a depressed young woman whose life is turned upside down. She is prescribed a new drug to treat her condition. 

The new drug, Ablixa, has severe and unexpected side effects that lead Emily to commit suicide. Emily’s husband, Martin, faces the consequences of her actions. 

Side Effects is a gripping film exploring pharmaceutical power and manipulation of people’s lives. It is a thought-provoking and intense drama that delves into the psychological and moral implications of taking powerful drugs. 

  • Lights out

Lights Out is a American supernatural horror film released in 2016. It was directed by David F. Sandberg. It follows a young woman named Rebecca, who is pursued by a supernatural entity when the lights go out. 

Throughout the movie, ‘lights out’ symbolically represents depression. The film conveys that to overcome depression, we must face our fears and find inner strength.

The film stars Teresa Palmer as Rebecca, Gabriel Bateman as her younger brother Martin, and Maria Bello as their mother Sophie. The film received positive reviews from critics, praised for its efficient use of horror tropes and Sandberg’s direction. 

  • Halloween

Halloween 2018 is a horror movie directed by David Gordon Green, and it is the eleventh installment in the Halloween franchise. It follows Laurie Strode as she comes to terms with the 1978 attack by serial killer Michael Myers. She prepares for his inevitable return.

Halloween 2018 follows the same timeline as the original Halloween. In this timeline, Michael Myers escapes institutionalization and returns to Haddonfield to finish his terror reign. Laurie Strode is now a grandmother and is dealing with the negative effects of the anxiety illness she developed due to trauma as a teen. 

The film is intense and chilling as Michael hunts down Laurie and her family. It also touches on issues such as trauma and family dynamics. 

  • Joker

Joker is a American psychological thriller film released in 2019 based on DC Comics character. It was directed by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, the film follows a failed stand-up comedian who is into crime and chaos in Gotham City.

The film examines themes of mental illness, violence, isolation, and society’s treatment of people with mental disorders and their lack of support. Through the Joker’s journey, the film draws a connection between his acts of violence and the lack of care and understanding from society.

Will watching movies about depression change mental health?

Watching movies about depression can improve mental health. There is evidence that watching films about depression can help individuals better understand their struggles, providing comfort and solidarity. 

Additionally, movies can give helpful tips for managing depression, such as maintaining positive relationships and seeking professional help. At the same time, it’s critical to understand that films about depression do not replace medical attention and do not treat the root causes of mental health problems. It is also imperative to know potential triggers when watching depression films, as they can be emotionally difficult.

Watching films about depression can benefit mental health since they bring comfort, hope, and support. It can be helpful for starting discussions about mental health. It can reduce stigma and entice people to get help from a professional.


Depression is a debilitating mental health issue that affects people from all walks of life. It is becoming increasingly clear that movies can positively impact mental health. It can transport us to worlds that we never thought possible. 

Through films, people can find solace in stories and characters and relate to their life experiences. It effectively explores different emotions and perspectives, allowing viewers to gain insight into their own lives. 

Films can also provide a safe space to process difficult emotions and situations, as they don’t require the viewer to face real-life issues. Watching films that feature characters who overcome challenges can foster a sense of hope and strength. Seeing characters on your screen go through similar feelings and tribulations can be a form of exposure therapy if you’re dealing with mental illness or simply feeling down. 

You can use to deal with grief and trauma. Films can also provide comfort, allowing viewers to feel connected and belonging, even if they are alone. 


  • How is depression portrayed in the film?

Depression is portrayed in films as a dark and isolating experience with thoughts of suicide. They may struggle to find joy in everyday activities and may also struggle with feelings of worthlessness and despair.

  • Why do actors suffer from depression?

The lack of control over their emotions, the pressure to act and look in a certain way, and the glamour and fame of their job can all trigger depression. 

  • Which famous actors were affected by depression?

Rob Delaney, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carrey, and Actress Kristen Bell are a few famous actors affected by depression.

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