The mental health stigma has been a topic of much debate over the last century. Today, doctors estimate that approximately 42.5 million Americans suffer from some form of mental
illness. Mental illness can come in various forms such as depression, which is characterized as chronic sadness. Bipolar disorder, which causes not only periods of depression, but also changes in mood. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, that often involves a person having uncontrolled thoughts, feelings, and obsessions. Though these are just a few handful examples of mental illness, there are a lot more different mental disorders young people may face in their day-to-day life. Today, the topic of mental illness is widely seen and portrayed in movies across Hollywood. So, in this article, we will not only look at movies about depression but also movies that portray characters with other mental illness as well.
1. The Harry Potter Series
One of the most iconic movies of the 21st century, the Harry Potter series is filled with drama, romance, fantasy, and mystery. This movie tells the story of a young man named Harry Potter, who after learning he’s a wizard, begins his journey studying at Hogwarts School of Witch Craft and Wizardry. In the midst of all the adventures, Harry and his group of friends face countless encounter with villains who seek to bring Harry Potter down.
Now, although the Harry Potter series isn’t all about depression per se, it seems like we often overlook the characters who do suffer from mental illness. Now, we decided to add the Harry Potter Series to our list of movies about depression because it portrays different sorts of mental illness characters have faced in their lives!
Ron Weasely, for example, is a character that’s become notorious for his anxiety and phobias towards villains, and creatures like giant spiders. Hermione is an excellent example of someone who may have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Lord Voldemort himself seems to be a person who not only suffers from psychopathy, but also severe loneliness, and emptiness which can possibly suggest depression.
In regards to depression, it becomes clear that Professor Snape and Harry Potter are the two main characters who truly suffer from some form of depression. If we look at Harry’s mental health, we can see that he does suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder after witnessing his parents die. Similarly, Professor Snape, experiences not only loneliness but also severe chronic depression which becomes most noticeable in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Throughout the series, we can see that Harry’s depression was chronic and through the help of his friends, he was able to grow and essentially accept his mental illness. In contrast, Professor Snape is a clear example, for how chronic depression takes a toll on one’s life.
2. Silver Linings Playbook
Silver linings playbook is an award-winning romantic-comedy that shows the life of two people who have faced mental illness in their life. The story talks about a young man named Pat Solatano who, after spending time in a mental institute for bipolar disorder, tries to recover from his mental illness by reconnecting with his wife.
In the midst of his journey, he meets a young lady named Tiffany Maxwell—a lady who has depression. During the progression of their relationship, Pat and Tiffany develop a strong relationship with one another which grows from a gloomy to a more cheerful atmosphere.
Silver linings playbook truly is a movie that captures the changes, struggles, and emotions a person with mental illness might succumb to. This movie explores aspects of personal growth and how the involvement of people we care about can help us through mental illness.
3. Shutter Island
If you’re really into your thrillers and mind-twisting kinda movies, then Shutter Island should definitely be on your list! Of all the movies about depression, this one actually portrays two different types of mental illnesses—depression and delusional disorder. Shutter Island is a movie that looks at the life of a U.S Marshal named Teddy Daniels, who with the help of his partner, investigates an insane asylum.
This movie actually explores Teddy’s own mental health as he continues to have hallucinations and delusions of-sort, of his late wife named Dolores Chanal. While the entire movie focuses on Teddy’s mental illness, we as an audience actually only get a glimpse into the life of his wife Dolores.
Dolores Chanel had, for some reason, murdered all her children. Through the minor encounters we do have of her, we can see that Dolores demonstrates various symptoms a depressed person may have. This included; chronic sadness, a feeling of emptiness, codependency, and distress with herself. Given that she demonstrated such raw emotions, it’s no surprise to see that the consequence of her untreated mental illness leads to her demise.
4. Girl Interrupted
Girl Interrupted is a true story that’s based on a woman named Susanna Kaysen, who enters a mental institute due to her being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This film looks at how Susanna emotionally battles another patient at the institute named Lisa.
This movie does not necessarily discuss depression solely, but it addresses the difficulty one might have with understanding their own personal mental illness. Girl Interrupted is a film that looks at all aspects of mental health and depression as it manifests parameters of mental illness such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, social nonconformity, and confusion.
Sometimes movies about depression can be quite hard to come by. In this list, we decided to add the psychological horror film known as 1408 because of how it explores not only depression but also bipolar disorder. The movie 1408 tells the story of a writer named Mike Enslin who writes stories debunking all the haunted rooms or homes he chooses to stay in.
The majority of this horror movie takes place when the Mike chooses to stay in room 1408, which allegedly is known for its hauntings and significant death count. Throughout the entire film, Mike begins to encounter strange haunting episodes, along with unexplained visions of his dead daughter.
The room, 1408 actually seems to become a metaphor for biopolar disorder as, throughout the movie, we can see Mike experiencing moments of depressions, schizophrenia, europhia, and even suicidal thoughts. As opposed to showing depression and bipolar disorder from a third person point of view, Stephen King tells us the story of how Mike has a battle within himself about his own mental illness. In the film, we truly see how Mike views the world and how his creative mind was able to concoct this psychological horror story.
6. The Babadook
The Babadook is a film that tells the story of a widowed mother named Amelia Vanek who, after losing her husband, had to raise her six-year-old son Samuel Vanek on her own. Sometime during the film, Samuel comes across an unusual pop-up book entitled Babadook.
Throughout the movie, Samuel begins to believe that Mister Babadook—this evil monster, is now residing in their home, watching them very closely. At the same time, Amelia battles with herself in trying to figure out who the Babadook really is, and how she can protect her son from such a monster.
This film takes an interesting turn on mental illness, as it symbolizes the mental health a grieving mother would have after losing her loved one. In this movie, we can clearly see that Amelia still exhibits episodes of depression, but must somehow conquer her mental illness so that she can raise her son.
Perhaps the meaning of this film is to look at how the death of a loved one can lead to episodes of depression, and a battle with one’s self in order to move on.
7. Edward Scissorhands
Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the iconic character, Edward Scissorhands is incredibly memorable. This film, by Tim Burton, looks at the life of an unusual, creepy looking young man by the name of Edward, who spends the majority of his life locked up in a dark-seemingly abandoned mansion.
Throughout the movie, we can see that Edward tries hard to conform to the everyday lives of the people around. For a while, Edward Scissorhands was able to use his artistic talents, and unique hands to create various types of art pieces. Unfortunately, because his looks and awkward demeanor, he still remained an outcast throughout the film.
Edward Scissorhands is actually a romantic dark fantasy film, however, an audience will clearly be able to see the chronic depression he faces as a result of simply not fitting in. In this film, Tim Burton truly sets the atmosphere of depression, as the entire film seems to have a dark, gothic, gloomy haze to it. One can feel nothing but loneliness, emptiness, and a feeling of sadness when watching how Edward Scissorhands suffers from his depression.
Movies About Depression
Today, Hollywood has a range of movies that discuss or portray mental illness in a unique manner. The Harry Potter series shows the progression of mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD, and OCD amongst many characters.
Movies such as Edward Scissorhands allows an audience to be placed in the shoes of a person who feels nothing but loneliness as a result of depression. While movies like 1408 and Babadook examine depression as a battle amongst oneself. Though each film portrays depression in a unique manner, one can’t help but realize the torment people with depression may face in their everyday lives.