The 10 Most Realistic Depictions of Depression You’ll Ever See on Screen

Many of us struggle with depression, whether we’re fully medicated or simply go through bouts almost everyone has experienced depression at some point in their life. Recently a Redditor who struggles with depression asked for some suggestions of movies that depict the condition and its symptoms well. “I've always thought it would be nice to see a movie with a character that I do relate to in ways and see the ins and outs of my condition,” they said in their request.

Here I’ve gathered the most mentioned and highest upvoted films that many agreed do a good job of depicting depression, whether literally or metaphorically.

1. Manchester by the Sea

Manchester By the Sea
Image Credit: Amazon Studios

Many people agreed that Manchester by the Sea is one of the most accurate depictions of depression in a film. The story follows a man (Casey Affleck) who struggles with grief and guilt in the aftermath of losing his children as he attempts to care for his nephew who just lost his father. One commenter said the film “has this perfect depiction of a socially-debilitating depression that no other film has captured.”

2. A Single Man

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Image Credit: Columbia/Tristar

Someone mentioned Tom Ford’s directorial debut A Single Man as a “haunting and beautiful” film. The movie, based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, centers on a man (Colin Firth) who is grieving the loss of his boyfriend who died in a car crash some months earlier.

3. The Virgin Suicides

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Image Credit: Paramount Classics

Several people agreed that The Virgin Suicides is one of the best depictions of depression on film. Based on the novel of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides, the film tells the story of five sisters who are placed under strict watch and confined to their home after one of the sisters makes a suicide attempt. One of the respondents said the film, “leaves me feeling suffocated long after it’s finished.”

4. Melancholia

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Image Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Many commenters mentioned Lars von Trier’s Melancholia as one of the best film depictions of depression. The second film in the filmmaker’s “depression trilogy” (following Antichrist), the film is split into two parts that focus on two sisters, one (Kristen Dunst) who struggles with depression while the other (Charlotte Gainsbourg) suffers from anxiety. One respondent highlighted their personal relationship to the movie and its depiction of depression: “It just hit me like a ton of bricks how ACCURATE that portrayal of depression felt. It felt so…real to my own personal experiences with depression.”

5. Little Miss Sunshine

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Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Little Miss Sunshine, which received a mention and several comments of agreement, highlights that not all movies that depict depression are devastatingly depressing to watch. The film follows a family as they make a road trip to a tween pageant and overcome external and internal obstacles along the way. It’s a movie that depicts different forms of depression, from functional to fatally dangerous, but ends on a beautifully optimistic note.

6. Synecdoche, New York

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Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Charlie Kaufman is likely best known as the screenwriter behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which also received a mention in the thread), but Redditors agreed that his best film depicting depression is his directorial debut Synechdoche, New York. The film follows a depressed theater director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who wants to create a set that’s a microcosm of New York City. As the film goes on, he becomes more and more committed to the reality he’s attempting to create on set than the reality outside.

7. Girl, Interrupted

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Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Several people agreed that Girl, Interrupted offered a realistic portrayal of depression. The movie, based on the memoir of the same name by Susanna Kaysen, centers on a young woman (Winona Ryder) who is institutionalized after attempting suicide. One commenter highlighted a scene in which Ryder learns about the meaning of “ambivalence,” they said “I still think about [that scene] years later.”

8. The Babadook

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Image Credit: Umbrella Entertainment

More than one respondent called out The Babadook as a great depiction of depression on film. The movie follows a single mother (Essie Davis) and her difficult son (Noah Wiseman) as they attempt to survive the titular Babadook, a supernatural entity that has come into their lives. It’s a horror movie that uses metaphor to tackle the reality of living with depression, and as one commenter said “it really depicted…barely functioning depression well.”

9. The End of Evangelion

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Image Credit: Gainax

Several anime series and movies deal with depression, but the most famous, and arguably greatest, among them is still The End of Evangelion which one user mentioned and many agreed with. The film serves as an ending to the series Neon Genesis Evangelion and uses a plot about mecha, genetic mutation, and the end of the world to explore what depression feels like.

10. In Bruges

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Image Credit: Focus Features

While In Bruges didn’t receive the same level of Oscar attention as some of writer/director Martin McDonagh’s more recent work, it may still be his best film. The movie follows two hit men sent to the Belgian town of Bruges after a job gone wrong to lay low for a bit. While there, one (Colin Farrell) struggles with his guilty conscience and thoughts of suicide. One Redditor highlighted that even if you aren’t a professional killer with a guilty conscience it’s still easy to relate to the depiction of depression, they said “I related a lot to his mannerisms and struggles (not for his exact reasons though, to be clear).”

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.