15 Best Movies About Depression That Accurately Portray the Struggle

About 17 million of Americans suffer from major depressive disorder. Movies about depression can be a great way to help people understand what it’s like to struggle with this condition. Keep reading for a list of 15 movies that accurately portray this mental illness, ranked from oldest to newest.
movies about depression

5 Best Movies About Depression

  • The Hours (2002) – a multi-perspective movie showing how different generations deal with depression and suicide 
  • Melancholia (2011) – selected by the U.S. National Society of Film Critics as the best picture of 2011
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – a classic tale that makes you rethink the good and bad in your life
  • The Virgin Suicides (1999) – shows a depressed family from the interesting perspective of outsiders
  • Ordinary People (1980) – won 4 of its 6 nominations at the 53rd Academy Awards

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

This classic Christmas film tells the story of George Bailey, a man who becomes suicidal after hitting rock bottom. While it may not have been intended as a movie about depression, its depiction of the condition is still incredibly impactful and realistic. It also gives hope for those who may be struggling with thoughts of despair.

Ordinary People (1980)

This drama follows the Jarrett family as they struggle to cope with the death of their older son and the depressive episode of their surviving son, Conrad. The film highlights the difficulties of communication and misunderstanding that often come with loving someone who has depression. It can help both the depressed and their loved ones understand the complexity of depression and its effects on relationships.

Three Colors: Blue (1993)

In this French film, Julie suffers from depression and attempts to disconnect herself from the world after the tragic death of her husband and daughter. The movie explores the emotions and experiences of grief, loss, and depression in a raw and unique way.

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

This film follows the lives of the five mysterious Lisbon sisters, who all eventually commit suicide. It delves into themes of depression, dysfunctional families and societal pressures, as well as the effects of loss and grief on a family.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Based on a true story, this movie about depression follows Susanna as she enters a psychiatric hospital and meets the other troubled girls in her ward. It explores the stigma surrounding mental health conditions and the different ways that individuals cope with their own struggles, including depression.

Prozac Nation (2001)

Based on the memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel, this film follows a young woman as she navigates college and her struggle with depression. It offers a deep and honest look at the effects of depression on relationships, work, and daily life. If you or someone you know is struggling with the condition, this film may offer insight and understanding.

The Hours (2002)

This drama tells the intertwined stories of three women affected by depression and suicide, including Virginia Woolf as she writes her novel Mrs. Dalloway. It delves into the various ways that depression can manifest and affect individuals, as well as the impact it has on those around them.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

This dark comedy follows the Hoover family as they go on a road trip to support their daughter’s dream of becoming a beauty pageant contestant. The film also explores the character Olive’s uncle Frank’s struggle with depression, highlighting the difficulties of loving someone who is depressed and trying to help them through it.

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

This offbeat romance takes place in a world for those who have committed suicide, showing the main character Zia’s journey to find his ex-girlfriend and his own struggle with depression. It offers a unique perspective on the effects of depression and suicide, as well as hope for those struggling with thoughts of ending their own lives.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

This comedy follows Craig, a teenager who checks himself into a mental hospital for his depression. The film offers an honest and often humorous look at the reality of living with and seeking treatment for depression. It also shows the impact that mental illness can have on relationships and daily life.

Melancholia (2011)

An art house film, Melancholia follows sisters Justine and Claire as a rogue planet threatens to collide with Earth. Justine (Kirsten Dunst) struggles with severe depression. This film by Lars von Trier offers a unique perspective on the experience of living with depression and the ways it can affect one’s perception of the world.

Gravity (2013)

Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut struggling with depression and grief after the loss of her crew on a mission in space. The film offers a unique and visually stunning depiction of depression, as well as the importance of seeking help and finding support.

Cake (2014)

This drama stars Jennifer Aniston as Claire, a chronic pain sufferer and former member of a support group for those with chronic pain who becomes obsessed with a suicidal member who recently passed away. This movie about depression offers insight into the struggles of living with chronic pain.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

In this darkly comedic drama, a mother uses three billboards to call attention to the unsolved murder of her daughter and her own struggle with grief and depression. The film explores the impact of loss and unresolved trauma on mental health, as well as the importance of seeking justice and closure.

A Star Is Born (2018)

This remake follows the story of a successful musician who helps a young singer find fame, while struggling with his own demons and alcohol addiction. The film offers a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and depression on relationships and daily life.

How Movies About Depression Help Others

Movies about depression can offer insight and understanding for those who have never experienced the condition, as well as validation and a sense of community for those who are currently struggling. They can also serve as a reminder for those in recovery to continue seeking support and treatment. By accurately portraying the reality of living with depression, movies about depression can help to destigmatize mental illness and encourage individuals to seek help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, resources are available. Please consider reaching out to a mental health professional or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Editor’s Advice 💬

If you know someone who is depressed, try watching one of these movies with them. It’s a beautiful way to understand their struggles better and keep them company at the same time. You can even start a movie club between the two of you – take turns choosing movies to watch. They can be about anything, not necessarily depression. Try your best to be understanding, compassionate, and available for your loved one. 

How Movies About Depression Help Others

FAQs About Depression and Movies

What Should I Watch When I Feel Depressed?

When the blues come knocking, reach for a feel-good film or two! From lighthearted comedies like Love Actually or The Princess Bride to movies dealing with psychology, such as Silver Linings Playbook and Inside Out, there’s something out there that can take your mood from low to high. Pick up some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch, and enjoy being transported into a world of laughter or thoughtfulness.

What Is the Movie About a Depressed Boy?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is probably the movie you’re thinking of. The coming-of-age drama poignantly captures teenage Charlie’s battle with depression and anxiety to gain acceptance from peers and ultimately find himself in the process.

Can Sad Movies Trigger Depression?

Watching a sad movie can certainly leave us with an emotional hangover, but it doesn’t have to drag on for long. Take the time you need for self-care and find something positive that brings you joy! And if your mood is more than just momentary sadness, reach out to those close to you – sometimes all we really need is support from someone who cares about us.

Can Watching Movies Help With Depression?

Yes and no. While watching a movie can provide a temporary distraction from emotional pain or difficult thoughts, it won’t solve all of your problems. To manage depression, it’s vital to seek professional help and develop healthy coping skills. A combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes will be a real help.

What Is a Good Movie to Cheer Me Up?

It depends on what kind of movie you’re in the mood for. If you want something lighthearted, try a comedy like The Hangover or Bridesmaids. For something more romantic, check out a classic like Love Actually or an indie favorite such as 500 Days of Summer. And if you’re looking for an inspirational story, try The Pursuit of Happyness or A Beautiful Mind!

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