14 Movies That Show Authentic Depictions of Depression

People with depression often feel lonely and misunderstood. Many people suffering from depression can benefit from seeing their mental illness depicted on screen. From The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) to Melancholia (2011), these films feature some of the most honest portrayals of depression.

1. Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia 2
Image Credit: Nordisk Film, Concorde Filmverleih, and BIM Distribuzione.

This harrowing apocalyptic sci-fi film tells the stories of two sisters as they cope with the news of humanity's impending demise as a comet careens towards Earth's orbit. Each sister reacts differently due to their circumstances. One is happily married with a beloved son, and the other suffers from severe depression.

2. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester By The Sea Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges
Image Credit: Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions.

Manchester by the Sea explores grief, trauma, and depression in the aftermath of a horrific tragedy. A man returns to his hometown after his brother passes away and must face his sorrow as he becomes the guardian of his nephew.

3. Aftersun (2022)

Aftersun Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio
Image Credit: A24 and Mubi.

This honest take on intergenerational trauma and mental illness tells the story of a loving yet sometimes tense father-daughter relationship. Through reflections on the past, the daughter looks back at her fleeting interactions with her father and how his mental illnesses played a role in their relationship.

4. A Single Man (2009)

A Single Man Colin Firth
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Eight months after a man loses his beloved partner in a car accident, he plans to take his own life because he is so depressed. As he goes about the motions of the last day of his life, he meets up with friends and acquaintances who make him realize his life is worth more than he thought.

5. Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Synecdoche New York 2008
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

What happens when someone is severely depressed but refuses to seek help or accept that they're struggling? Synecdoche, New York attempts to answer that question. It's a film about a lonely theater director who plans an over-involved production to distract himself from his grief and suffering.

6. Two Days, One Night (2014)

Two Days One Night
Image Credit: 2014 – Sundance Selects.

When a woman returns to work after spending time away to recover from depression, she's horrified to learn that most of her coworkers agreed to receive a big bonus to work extra hours and replace her. Before the final votes are cast, the woman visits each coworker to plead with them to let her return to work.

7. You Were Never Really Here (2017)

You Were Never Really Here Joaquin Phoenix
Image Credit: Film4.

You Were Never Really Here‘s brutal depiction of trauma and depression will leave a mark on any sympathetic viewers. When an army veteran turned hitman who suffers from thoughts of taking his own life takes a job to save a young trafficked girl, he hopes his heroic endeavor will make him feel like life is worth living again.

8. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Silver Linings Playbook‘s main character suffers from bipolar disorder and returns to his family home after spending time in a psychiatric hospital. Desperate to win back his wife, he begins a friendship with a woman who understands his mental health issues and agrees to help her win a dance contest if she delivers a letter to his estranged wife.

9. House of Sand and Fog (2003)

House of Sand and Fog
Image Credit: DreamWorks Distribution.

After ignoring a series of eviction notices that the government mistakenly sent to the home she inherited from her late father, an isolated and depressed young woman is shocked when the police show up and force her to leave her home. When a man buys the house and moves his family in, the former homeowner begins stalking the home's new inhabitants.

10. A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man 2009 Focus Features 2
Image Credit: Focus Features.

This hopeful film about a man whose life is falling apart at the seams encourages men to seek help for their struggles. Finding himself stuck with his freeloading brother, his wife leaving him, and his hopes of earning tenure coming to an end, a man seeks advice from three rabbis to get his life back on track.

11. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

little miss sunshine
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

A family full of wacky yet realistic characters embarks on a cross-country journey for the clan's youngest member to compete in a pageant. One of the family members suffers from severe depression and comes to terms with his recent attempt to take his own life on the cross-country trip.

12. Oslo, August 31st (2011)

Oslo August 31st
Image Credit: 2012 – Strand Releasing.

When a depressed man in rehab for drug addiction gets a day trip out of the facility, he uses his time away to meet up with friends and attempt to rebuild his life with a job interview. As he becomes more vulnerable with his friends, he learns he's not the only one struggling and that he doesn't have to do it alone.

13. Anomalisa (2015)

Image Credit: 2015 Paramount Pictures.

This unique stop-motion film depicts the isolating feeling of depression with authenticity. It's about an inspirational speaker whose bleak life leaves him lonely and seeking a connection he never manages to cling to. That is until he meets a bright woman at one of his seminars.

14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Mae Whitman, Ezra Miller, Erin Wilhelmi
Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a distinguished coming-of-age drama about a socially anxious teen discovering more about his identity and sense of belonging as he makes friends with a group of alternative kids. As the story unfolds, viewers learn much more about the boy's mental illness than was initially revealed.