Movies have a significant space in human lives as they portray real-life issues of social significance. There are several movies about depression, mental health, and the complexities of life that convey mental illnesses to a certain extent. Although not entirely accurate, they are relatable to an extent where people may be able to identify their mental state and be prompted to seek help.
Depression is indicated differently by different people. It is associated with prolonged periods of sadness, self-criticizing thoughts, or a sense of meaninglessness and emptiness in life. There are numerous movies about depression that give us an insight into the perils of depressive disorder and self-harm tendencies.
Here, we take a look at 8 movies about depression. Each has its own message to convey.
Top 10 Movies About Depression
1) Veronika Decides to Die
Based on Paulo Coelho’s book, this is one of the movies about depression that portrays a depressed character and her eventual positive outlook on life. Often, the willingness and interest to enjoy life do not stem from success. What if tomorrow were your last day on this planet? How would you wish to live out your last day?
Veronika Decides to Die tells us the story of a successful girl who overdoses on pills in an attempt to commit suicide and ends up in an asylum. Here, she learns that her days are numbered as an effect of her overdose. As she nears death, she finds a renewed interest in life and love and proceeds to escape the asylum to live out her final days.
Now, answering the two questions asked previously, the knowledge that our days are numbered and coming to an end prompts us to live out our lives to the fullest. We may find ourselves finding joy in the littlest things and cherishing the beauty around us, exactly like Veronika decided to live, holding nothing back.
2) Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine is a movie that portrays life and emotions in a comedic manner. It depicts a dysfunctional family with each member fighting their own battle with depression. Olive Hoover, the youngest family member, is a pageant enthusiast being trained by her grandfather.
Each family member tackles their tale of depression as they set out on a road trip 800 miles in an ageing van to get Olive to the beauty pageant. As they race against the clock to get there on time with their limited budget, they face numerous mishaps. The plot explores how each person has an outburst and how they realize that they need each other to support and uplift their spirits.
At her tender young age, Olive comes to realize clinical depression and sees herself as a ray of sunshine for the family, uniting them all through her little antics. The movie is an eye-opener to various common yet depressing life stages – heartbreak, career concerns, and parenthood.
3) The Skeleton Twins
The Skeleton Twins follows the story of an estranged brother and sister reunited after 10 years as one of them attempts suicide and the other was on its verge. As Maggie urges Milo to move back to their hometown, we get a glimpse of their adult lives.
As the siblings stumble through infidelity, insecurities, and outbursts, they reconnect over childhood incidents and memories of their father. The movie’s key takeaway is that siblings are always there for each other in times of need. While Maggie and Milo have their differences and struggles, they’re always there to uplift and support each other.
The Skeleton Twins follows their exploration of how they came to be two depressed and broken souls, their unhealthy coping mechanisms, and their journey of realization. This is one of the movies about depression that conveys several positive messages, such as the significance of acceptance, trust, and family. Maggie and Milo learn to accept each other for who they have turned out to be.
4) World’s Greatest Dad
The movie tells the story of a high school English teacher with dreams of becoming a recognized author. His life takes a sharp turn as he tries to pass his son’s death due to autoerotic asphyxiation as a suicide. He adds a suicide note, which receives students and teachers’ attention, and his son Kyle gets recognized for his hitherto unknown talent.
As Lance basks in the long-awaited adoration, his self-esteem is renewed, and he gets over his unhappy and lonely life. However, his happiness is transient as guilt overtakes.
The film explores the feelings of a father and a teacher, but above all, an author who was never recognized for his true intellect. This is one of the movies about depression conveying that true happiness comes to those content with themselves. Through Lance, the movie tells us that being alone is more comforting than being in the presence of those who instil a sense of loneliness.
5) The Hours
The Hours makes it into this list of movies about depression with its unique storytelling and timeline switches. The movie consists of three plots following the lives of three women, all linked by Mrs Dalloway. Mrs Dalloway is a book written by Virginia Woolf, one of the three prominent characters in the movie.
The film revolves around mental illnesses and depression faced by different characters, Virginia Woolf in 1923, Laura Brown in 1951, and Clarissa Vaughan in 2001. Virginia Woolf battled depression and suicidal tendencies as she worked on her book Mrs Dalloway. Years later, in 1951, Laura Brown escapes from her seemingly happy life by reading the same book.
Living the American Dream, Laura seemed to have it all, but things are never how they seem to be from outside. Laura was contemplating suicide as she read her copy of Mrs Dalloway for the last time, but eventually changes her mind and proceeds to go back to her husband and kids. The film also travels to 2001 New York, where Clarissa Vaughan distracts herself from her life, similar to Mrs Dalloway in Virginia Woolf’s book.
The Hours is one of the best movies about depression and mental illness, portraying how life often seems meaningless and empty.
Melancholia is one of the 3 movies about depression by Lars von Trier in his untitled “Depression Trilogy”. The trilogy also includes movies Antichrist and Nymphomaniac. Inspired by his phase of depression, the movie captures depression and destruction interspersed through science fiction. Leaving the audience glued to their seat with the anticipation of a collision between two planets and the imminent destruction of life on earth, the movie connects it with the depressed life of the title character Justine.
Her family, work, and romantic relationships collapse around Justine as she hides the melancholy inside her. With the end of the world nearing, Justine thinks that the Earth is evil, eliminating the need for grievances. This stems from her dissatisfaction with life and crumbling relationships. While those around her panic about the imminent death of life as they know it, Justine’s mental state improved, probably because she could let go of her worries.
To Justine, perhaps the end of the world meant an end to the melancholy in her life. She embraced the end whole-heartedly, with the peace of not having to prolong her depressed state of life.
7) It’s Kind of a Funny Story
The movie revolves around Craig Gilner, a 16-year old with an easy life but with the constant fear of failure and low self-esteem. Craig represents every teenager out there, trying to get through high school and planning future educational goals. Added to this is the stress of maintaining a social life, relationships, and meeting his father’s expectations.
Craig feels helpless and contemplates suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge as the pressure of making tough choices looms over him. At this point, he decides to get help by checking in to a hospital’s psychiatric ward.
Through comedic instances and a hint of romance, the movie shows Craig’s journey from being a clueless teenager on the verge of depression to helping other psychiatric ward residents and helping himself during the process. He gains a renewed interest and aim in life and learns to see the brighter side.
8) It’s a Wonderful Life
This classic old movie tells the story of George Bailey, a man who put everyone else before himself. Fulfilling his duties as an ideal brother, son, husband, and empathetic citizen, George misses out on his own dreams and aspirations. Life takes a turn for the worse as his company gets into financial trouble, unearthing the streak of depression buried under his cheery self. As he contemplates suicide, he is visited by his guardian angel, who shows him how different life would have been if he were not born.
The bleak world in his absence gives George a renewed confidence in himself and will power to move on with his life. He views life with greater interest and soon gets over his troubles with help from everyone.
While real-life situations may not be as easy to overcome, these movies about depression may help give a more positive outlook on life and plant seeds of hope. More often than not, they help you connect with your loved ones who are being tormented by pangs of depression. Reaching out to those in need is the best act of love and kindness, and who knows, maybe lending an ear might be all you need to prevent the situation from getting worse!
These are a few among the numerous movies about depression and mental well-being. These movies have a unique take on portraying the subject, but they are all united by their intentions: to provide better awareness about depression and its effects.
Drop in the comments below your favourite movies about depression and how they have helped you.