When it comes to depression, there have been few movies and tv shows that have done a good job of portraying it accurately. These movies have helped people understand different varieties of depression that could be defined by the behaviors of a victim.

'Helen' (2009)

The movie revolves around the character of Helen (Ashley Judd). This thriving music theory professor leads a happy life with her husband David (Goran Visnjic) and thirteen-year-old daughter Julie (Alexia Fast). Their daughter was born from Helen's previous marriage with Frank (David Hewlett).

As the movie progresses, we see Helen getting irritable and anxious, which progresses into a full-blown depression. 

This movie does a marvelous job of portraying depression and how it affects people and those around them. On top of that, Helen does a brilliant job of expressing the feeling of helplessness that patients with depression go through. 

This sense of hopelessness is perfectly reflected by Helen when she tries to be intimate with her husband but draws back at his touch. When she tries to form a bond with her daughter, the girl gets scared of her mother because of her mother's breakdowns. When Helen tries to teach something to her daughter, she can hardly speak.

Helen's depression keeps on growing as the movie's plot progresses forward. It is also later revealed that her ex-husband, Frank, had known about her existing mental health condition, but he did nothing to help her.

The elements, storylines, tone, and the context of the movie as a whole highlights the importance of empathy. The only person Helen can talk about her problems is Mathilda (Lauren Lee Smith), one of her students who is coming out of her own depression.

The film revolves around the teacher-student duo and how Helen slowly comes to terms with her condition. The character, Helen, does a great job of portraying the hard phase of depression relapse that a person with pre-existing mental health conditions will face if not rightly guided, treated, and listened.

‘Bojack Horseman’ (2014-2020)

At first glance, Bojack Horseman is fairly quirky. The animated series follows Bojack Horseman, an anthropomorphic horse who is battling his ongoing depression.

The series follows the main character of Bojack Horseman. He portrays the main character in the fictional TV show ‘Horsin’ Around.’ which achieved commercial success in the 1990s. But after an extended period of celebrity irrelevance in the later years, he decides to hire a ghostwriter to write his autobiography in a bid to be relevant again.

But there’s a catch; he is now a 50-year-old horse and no longer a promising star. Even worse, he is battling his insecurities and depression by abusing alcohol and drugs.

In the series, Bojack’s childhood trauma and neglect contribute largely to the way he tries to make sense of the world around him. He falls back to his old behavioral patterns despite moments of brief self-awareness. 

The sixth episode in the fourth season shows the inner monologue of Bojack’s that relate the audience about his sufferings, and how his inner conflicts have affected his self-esteem and behaviors. 

Bojack Horseman does not shy away from tackling the real issues of depression. It perfectly depicts an illness that eats us from the inside, convinces us that we are a bane of existence, and forces us to think that people are better off without us.

‘It’s Kind Of A Funny Story’ (2010) 

An adaptation of the 2006 novel of the same name written by Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of A Funny Story follows the character of Craig Gilner, who checks himself into a hospital after a self suicide attempt. He tells Dr.Mahmoud (Asif Mandvi) that he needs immediate. After the incident, the doctor decides to put Craig in the psych ward for one week.

Craig gets placed in the adult psychiatric ward, where he forms an unlikely bond with Bobby (Zach Galifinakis)—who claims to be on vacation and reveals that he is admitted to the hospital for attempting suicide six times. He also shares that he has a daughter.

As the story progresses, Craig tries to help Bobby with his problem, and Bobby also helps Craig ask out Noelle (Emma Roberts), who was in for self-harm. 

The movie shows how Craig has always battled with his perceived incompetence and how that affects him to his teens. The reason for Craig’s clinical depression is mostly his victim mindset and his comparison of the fact that others seem to “handle it,” and he doesn’t seem to be able to do so.

A transformation happens in Craig when he develops a new perspective and a new inner dialogue. (Read about inner dialogue here)

‘Anomalisa’ (2015)

Anomalisa is a stop motion animation film directed and produced by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. It follows the story of Michael Stone, who is a customer service expert and author. Despite his success, he is clinically depressed and feels dissociated from the world. He thinks that everyone is the same and sees people with the same voice and the looks. 

This bizarre movie has done a phenomenal job in highlighting a chronic case of depression. 

Ordinary People (1980)

After the accidental death of their teenage son Buck, and the attempted suicide of their younger son Conrad, the Jaretts try to get back to their normal life. But they are joined by their youngest son Conard—he had spent four years in a psychiatric institution.

At home, Conard now feels alienated from his friends and family and starts seeing a psychiatrist Dr. Berger. Even though we see depression from the eyes of Conrad in the movie, he isn’t the only one dealing with mental health issues. His parents, who at first seem to maintain their composure during the death of Buck, are also not doing emotionally well.

Conard’s father Cal feels “trapped and hot,” whereas Beth is frequently irritable and lashes out under the pretense of the house being too dirty or noisy. 

This movie is an absolute gem when it comes to the accurate portrayal of depression in movies. The interaction of the characters, the climax, and the catharsis of the movie is noteworthy. 

What We Must Understand About Depression: 

Depression and mental health issues have been drowned with misinformation and vagueness in the modern world for a long time. Generally, those with mental health issues are portrayed as unpredictable, unreliable, and sometimes predisposed to criminality in pop culture media contents.

While it is a mark of a good storyteller to entice emotion, doing so with the help of mental health illness spreads information that may or may not be the truth. This further contributes to the misconception of mental health issues in the general public. 

Depression is no stranger to its share of stigma. Often, people with depression are told that their illness is not real or to just “snap out of it.' We must understand that depression is not just a phase, and people with depression need support from their near and dear ones to lead a happy and meaningful life. 

The symptoms of Depression: 

Depression is often referred to as ‘the Common Cold of Psychological Illness’ because of its prevalence in the human population. Despite the light-hearted comparison, depression is not something to be taken lightly since it affects over 264 million people worldwide and kills 800,000 people in a year, according to WHO.

Depression is generally characterized by a feeling of extreme sadness and a general lack of interest in tasks or hobbies that were once enjoyed. Depression can vary in severity and symptoms. Some symptoms include: 

  • Extreme sadness

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed

  • Changes in appetite

  • Changes in weight (gain or loss)

  • Low self-image

  • Thoughts of death or suicide 

  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating 

If these symptoms last more than two weeks, the individual could be diagnosed with depression.

The causes of Depression: 

The following factors have been attributed to the increase in the risk of someone getting depression:  

  • Death or a loss: Although death or a loss of a loved one is a natural phenomenon, it may increase the chances of depression. 

  • Early Childhood Trauma: Childhood trauma may manifest itself in our later years as depression. 

  • Genetics: If someone has or had depression in your family, you are at an increased risk of getting depression. 

  • Substance abuse: 21% of people who have problems related to alcohol or drugs experience depression