Depression affects over 300 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, nearly 20% of adults experience some form of depressive disorder at some point in their lives.
There are many films that examine and tackle dealing with depression in different ways. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best movies about depression.
Just like depression itself, the films that handle it can be very different. This list goes through some of the best films that tackle depression.
So if you’re interested in taking a look at the best examples of how films handle this subject, read on.
The Best Movies About Depression
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Little Miss Sunshine is a tragicomedy that revolves around the Hoovers, a dysfunctional family, and especially their 7-year-old daughter Olive.
Every member of the Hoover family (apart from Olive) deals with some form of depression, along with other mental health issues such as addiction.
The film doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to its portrayal of these problems and how they can affect a family.
In Little Miss Sunshine, Olive wants to participate in a beauty pageant in Florida.
The rest of the family is determined to make Olive’s wish come true, and they all go on a cross-country road trip to try and get Olive into the finals.
While on the trip, the family’s problems come to light and it becomes clear that the young and cheerful Olive is what’s keeping the family together.
In this 2014 film, Jennifer Aniston stars as Claire, a woman suffering from chronic pain and depression after being involved in a car accident that also resulted in her son being killed.
Claire takes part in a support group for her chronic pain. After one of the women in her support group commits suicide, Claire begins to get recurring nightmares where Nina (the dead woman) tries to taunt her into doing the same.
Haunted by these nightmares, Claire forms a friendship with Nina’s husband.
Cake is a heartbreaking film about loss, grief, and the reactions that follow.
It paints a vivid picture of what it’s like living with depression and chronic illness, as well as some of the issues that can come from just trying to treat these problems.
It may be a beautiful film, but it’s definitely one to watch when you’re in the right headspace for it.
At first glance, Gravity might just seem like an intense and dramatic sci-fi story about astronauts getting stranded in space.
While that might be part of the story, Gravity manages to combine a high-stakes science fiction story with strong themes of isolation and depression that have a major impact on the story.
In Gravity, two astronauts are left adrift in space after their shuttle is destroyed during a routine spacewalk.
Without any ties or ways of communicating with Earth, the pair are sent spiraling through space while tied together.
The isolation and disconnection that the two astronauts face in Gravity is reminiscent of the numbness brought on by grief, and ties in with the emotional impact that one of the characters is dealing with.
As the pair struggle to reach another space station (and safety) while running low on oxygen and supplies, they must face the loneliness of space and tackle their own fears and grief.
World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
In a step away from his more comedic roles, World’s Greatest Dad sees Robin Williams playing Lance Clayton.
Clayton is a failed author turned teacher who is married to a woman who doesn’t love him and has a son who hates him.
After his son dies in a masturbation-related accident, Clayton writes a fake (but beautifully tragic) suicide note for his son to prevent his memory from being tainted by the way he died.
As a result, the community rallies around the memory of Clayton’s son, while Clayton himself has to deal with his own depression along with the grief and guilt brought on by his son’s death and the lie he has started.
World’s Greatest Dad takes a long hard look at the romanticization of mental illness by a society that turns its back on the people it affects.
The Babadook (2014)
As mentioned earlier, different films can portray depression in a variety of different ways.
The Babadook is no exception, and is one of the few films to examine the subject of depression and mental health from the perspective of a horror film.
After her husband dies in a car accident, Amelia is left to look after Sam, their young son, alone.
Stricken with grief and struggling to raise a child alone, Amelia now has to deal with Sam’s new fear of a monster in their house.
The Babadook balances its themes of horror with its exploration of the ways that depression and PTSD can manifest, and looks at how they can affect the sufferer as well as others around them.
As the titular Babadook terrorizes Amelia and Sam, she must face and accept her grief in order to protect her family.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Depression can make a person feel like they are caught in a loop, with every day blending into each other in a monotonous and unchanging slog.
Groundhog Day takes this concept to its limit and beyond.
In this classic film, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a smug and self-centered weatherman who finds himself caught in a time loop where he is trapped reliving the same day over and over again.
As the day keeps repeating itself, Phil becomes defeated and resigned to his torture.
While the film is very comedic, it also deals with darker aspects of mental health and depression, with Connors even attempting suicide to see if that would free him from the time loop.
There you have it – five of the best films about depression! These films tackle the topic in many different ways, from the tragicomedy of Little Miss Sunshine to the horror of The Babadook.
Depression can show itself in many different ways, and these films reflect that in their variation.
If you’re interested in seeing how movies can deal with depression as a theme and topic, then these films are all great choices for you. Just make sure to bring some tissues!
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