Sometimes depression cannot be described with words alone. There are movies about depression that can do a much better job of describing this darkness.

I’ve noticed people trying to describe what depression feels like, and they fail horribly. I cannot even describe to you what it feels like to drown in the depths of endless darkness. No, I’m not depressed all the time, but when I encounter this monster, it’s not easy to understand much less put into words. Movies about depression do an outstanding job of conveying what I feel, and also what many other sufferers of mental illness encounter.

Take a look for yourself and “get the picture”!

Yes, movies do a pretty good job of telling this morbid story. So it seems that they can also transport you to a place where even depression is easier to stomach and quite relatable. Here are a few examples of exemplary movies about depression which tell the dark tale of this mental illness.

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

As far as movies about depression go, The World’s Greatest Dad tells a realistic story of dealing with single parenthood and trying to raise a deeply disturbed child who is obsessed with pornography and perverted behavior. I’ve seen this movie at least twice and found it to be both disturbing and informative.

The lead actor, Robin Williams plays the single father who must deal with his son’s dysfunctional ways and then cope after his son’s suicide. William’s character also struggles with being a writer, poet, and trying to find love.

Williams was also deeply depressed in real life, and apparently dealing with mental illness. The actor committed suicide in late 2015. To understand more about depression, family dysfunction, and suicide, be sure to give this one a view.

Melancholia (2011)

Kurstin Dunst stars in this strange and euphoric tale of depression and the fate of our world. Justine, portrayed by actress, Dunst, is self-absorbed and seemingly void of accepting any consequences in life. Justine feels pointless to change anything in her life, and while a giant planet hurls toward the earth in a path of impending destruction, she indulges in whatever she wants.

The destruction of the earth is a metaphor for just how destructive depression can be. This movie about depression worth a watch!

Girl Interrupted (1999)

This tale is the true account of author Susanna Kaysen’s 18-month stay in a psychiatric facility. The author, who was obviously struggling with depression and a personality disorder encounters others who make a profound influence on her life.

The author, recounts, that during her stay, she discovered things about herself while watching others work through their own various illnesses, even witnessing the suicide of one of her friends. Winona Ryder does an astounding job at portraying Susanna’s role in Girl Interrupted.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, is more than just a “feel-good” vintage flick. On the contrary, this movie hits you right in the feels with an accurate portrayal of what depression is really like.

George Baily, a successful businessman has worked his entire life to make life better for everyone else. But what about his own happiness? Baily comes to terms with the fact that his own life insurance policy may just be more valuable to the citizens of the town if he was dead.

As Baily plans to hurl himself from the Brooklyn Bridge, an angel shows Bailey what life would have been like without him. Needless to say, the world needs Bailey after all. The movie ends on a high note as Bailey joins his family for a Christmas at home.

Numb (2007)

Moving away from his comedic personality on Friends, Mathew Perry portrays screenwriter, Hudson Milbank in a film about mental illness. Milbank experiences what some understand as feeling “numb” or having strange reactions to everyday events or even troubling experiences.

It’s obvious that something is wrong, and so Milbanks seeks professional help. Unfortunately, medications don’t seem to be working, so he tries other avenues of treatment. Along the way, he falls in love, learns more about himself, and learns to deal with his odd actions and personality. His diagnosis is depersonalization disorder, a fairly new diagnosed mental illness.

It’s a Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

Unlike many other movies about depression, this one focuses on the common suicidal feelings present in “normal” teens. After almost killing himself, 16-year-old Greg Kilner, played by Keir Gilchrist, seeks help. Because the youth ward of the psychiatric facility is temporarily shut down, Kilner must stay in the adult ward where he befriends several other patients.

Kilner is just an ordinary teen who just can’t seem to get ahead. He has a normal home life and fairly normal social life, but unlike his friends, who seem to be able to skate by in life, Kilner seems to struggle, thus causing stress. This stress leads to his suicidal attempt in the first place. Although this film is not high on dramatics, the audience is able to relate to Kilner’s story as an ordinary boy who just wants to end his life and be free of society’s pressures.

Cake (2014)

This tale follows the life of Claire (Jennifer Anniston) as she deals with chronic pain from a past accident. She deals with her pain through medication and physical therapy, and also through constant complaining and denial. Depression sets in as Claire tries to come to terms about why she was in the accident in the first place, which also killed her son, by the way.

Claire experiences a bit a psychosis when trying to gain relevance through a friend (Nina) who committed suicide, who also lost her son in an accident as well. Anniston’s character goes through patterns of denial and loss of purpose while ignoring her past.

The Skeleton Twins (2014)

Twins (male and female) in separate locations, decide to kill themselves at approximately the same time. The male, Milo, cuts his wrists but fails to die before help arrives. They contact his first of kin, his twin Maggie, right before she takes a handful of pills. Maggie decides to take her brother Milo in to live with her and her husband (Luke Wilson).

Both of them explore their past trying to discover why they had the same urge for suicide. As they explore their history, it gets worse, then ultimately better. Apparently, their lives were not as happy as they thought.

Wait! There’s more!

This is an exhaustive list by no means. In fact, there are a few more movies about depression that help you to understand what it’s like to suffer from this illness.

  • The Virgin Suicides
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Side Effects
  • Two Days, One Night

Be sure to check out some of these films and more which portray depression and its awful symptoms. While these films may not describe and explain all the symptoms of depression, it’s a start. Maybe, by being able to relate, you can help yourself grow stronger and even help your loved ones deal with their own darkness.

Movies about depression are designed to help us understand those things which are just not conveyed properly in words, and these are a few of the finest examples. Hope this helps!



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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Don

    Strange thing depression. Possibly the most well known and least misunderstood of all afflictions. Explaining by the depressed sound silly.To explain it with sadness is like explaining the ocean as wet. Like waking at night, every night, and thrilled there’s no light. Like digging deeper with no way out. Like waking, washing your face and donning your mask to go out and be another person. Like living in darkness and having not a clue as to why. Like laughing on the inside which ends in a tear, not knowing what was funny.

    My first indication I was getting better was waking and not feeling so much darkness. It was like caring less and enjoying it more. See? Explaining getting away from it can’t be done. I don’t have any idea how that happened either. I don’t want it back, but here is the bizarre part – at times I miss some of it. Kind of like I lost a part of myself. A deeper self.

    1. Sherrie


      It’s true, it’s hard, if not impossible, to understand. I guess that’s why those who’ve never struggled with depression cannot fathom what it’s like. I live with the beast and I have learned to deal with it in such a deep way that it almost seems nonexistent at times. Then, in a moment, it reminds me that I was never alone. Yes, I can understand why you miss it, it is a dark part of us that when cut away, leaves us feeling like our twin (our tumor) has been removed. It’s hollow where that old friend used to be, and I think that’s why, if we feel weak at times, we call it back to us. Yes, it’s creepy, but I am sure you know what I’m saying.

  2. Rob

    I think depression is the worst mental illness there is because it is an eternal downard spiral that feeds itself, meanwhile you can only watch helplessly by. If you talk about it to friends and family, they treat you different and it makes them sad, which makes you more depressed. If you hold it in and pretend to be normal you feel guilty and it makes you more depressed.
    I watched Meloncholia with my girlfriend (For some reason I only meet women that don’t have it,) and I spent the whole movie trying not to cry. When she is moving slowly, and calls out that she can’t go anymore, that she’s not strong enough (I can’t remember exactly how it goes) I lost it. That, to me, was the most perfect scene about depression.
    For anyone reading this that doesn’t suffer from it but know someone who is… They want to be alone not because they don’t love you, but because they DO love you, and they don’t want to drag anyone else into the darkness.

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