19 movies about depression and self-harm

This article will show what are 20 of the most known movies about depression and self-harm. The article will explain how those were portrayed in each of the movies. 

19 movies about depression and self-harm 

Over the years, many movies have had as their central theme, or even as a secondary storyline depression and self-harm. Let’s discuss 20 of the most important ones.

The virgins suicide (1999)

The debut of Sofia Coppola centered around the life of 5 sisters who in the 1970s ended their lives. The story is told from the perspective of neighborhood boys, and it starts with the youngest girl slitting her wrist in a suicide attempt. The movie shows clearly how depression starts to take over the girls, until their sad demise.

Girl, Interrupted (1999) 

This movie is based on the memories of the leading lady, Sussana Kayse. It talks about the period she was committed to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. The movie centers not only on Sussana’s mental health but also on the many women she relates to within the institution. It is a clear example of a self-harm and depression theme movie.

Donnie Darko (2001) 

Donnie Darko has become a famous cult movie, and it centers around the main character Donnie Darko that has clinical depression and starts to be haunted by a vision of a man in a rabbit suit.

Thirteen (2003)

This movie centers on a teenage girl who has been experimenting with a new best friend. It shows her through going through drugs, sex, and dealing with mental health issues. The movie also shows the complex relationship of the teenager with her mother.

Prozac Nation (2005)  

This movie also centers around a real story. It tells the story of Elizabeth Wurtzel, and how she spent her first year at Harvard dealing with chronic depression. It shows how she tries to cope with her mental illness, and how substance abuse becomes a part of her life during that period.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) 

This movie that became extremely famous shows a family trying to encourage, and take a little girl to participate in a beauty pageant. But there are so many secondary storylines, that are incredibly touching like the one of her uncle that is depressed and has attempted suicide. 

19 movies about depression and self-harm

Antichrist (2009) 

As the couple tries to deal with the grief of their deceased child, they choose to go to a cabin in the woods. There they go through many changes in behaviors. The movie shows how grief can have a huge negative impact on a person’s mental health.

In Her Skin (2009) 

When a 15-year-old girl disappears, her parents quickly get worried. This movie shows how when mental health matters are overlooked, the outcome can be tragic.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) 

With major depression, and after experiencing suicidal thoughts, a teenage boy checks himself into a psychiatric ward for a week. During his stay, he will bond with other patients and learn more about mental health.

Shutter Island (2010) 

This thriller movie shows how far clinical depression will make a person go, and how others may react to a hugely traumatic event in their life. The movie centers around a police officer that is investigating the disappearance of a murderer who is missing from a hospital’s psychiatric ward.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) 

This movie centers around Kevin’s parents coming to terms with his mental health state. He took part in a school shooting, and now they are trying to understand, looking back through his life, what may have happened to lead him to that.

Melancholia (2011) 

Another Lars Von Trier movie about depression, Melancholia centers around the relationship between two sisters. One of them is getting married as a planet, Melancholia is about to collide with earth. And during this process, people’s mental health is affected. The movie clearly shows how depression can affect people.

Suicide Room (2011)

In this movie, a teenager that went through bullying that led him to feel utterly humiliated starts to spend most of his time in the virtual world, through a chat room. The movie discusses the isolation depression can bring, and what can lead people to become depressed.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) 

This movie talks about two people that have struggled with mental illness. The man has just been released from a psychiatric institution, after he went through a traumatic experience, and was diagnosed as bipolar. 

And a girl that was coping with the death of her husband also became depressed. The movie shows how both of them find ways of coping with their condition. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This teenage movie talks about the importance of friendship, and how mental illness can affect anyone. It shows how the main character makes a great group of friends, and how they are all supportive of each other’s struggles.

Side Effects (2013) 

This movie centers on a woman that goes through a suicide attempt as her husband gets out of jail. As she starts to take medication, it doesn’t seem to work well for her, she goes into an experimental treatment that will bring many side effects.

Cake (2014) 

In this movie, Jennifer Aniston is a woman that lives with chronic pain. She becomes obsessed with a colleague from her support group that attempted suicide and is struggling with the loss of her son in a car accident. The grief, and the pain, often present in people with depression, show how the condition can impair the person’s life. 

Midsommar (2019) 

This thriller shows a girl dealing with the grief of her whole family, and how she goes to a festival with her boyfriend and his friends. This movie clearly shows how sadness, anxiety, and grief can profoundly affect a person.

Joker (2019) 

This movie tells the tale of Batman’s nemesis. It explains how he came to be. Shows his childhood, his relationship with his mother, and how depression has always been a part of him. It also shows how bad things can get if someone that needs help can find it, which can lead them to tragic acts.

The Fallout (2021) 

This movie shows how 3 teenagers were locked in a bathroom stall during a school shooting. And how this trauma affects one of them particularly, Veda. The movie will show her way of coping, how PTSD affected her, and how she went back to school.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What are movies about depression and self-harm? 

What are movies to uplift me when I feel depressed? 

If you are going through depression, there are some movies you can watch that may uplift your mood. The first one is “The Sound of Music” because of its uplifting music, and how love and hope are shown in the movie.

Aside from that, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is another one that can improve your mood. It shows how each of us may touch more people than we have imagined through life, and how it makes people feel hopeful. 

“Good Will Hunting” will also bring a lot of hope to anyone going through difficult times, and questioning who they are. This movie shows how a young man finds his path in life with the help of a therapist.

“Rocky” is quite an inspirational movie. It shows a fighter overcoming his challenges, and that soundtrack alone marked many generations. One can’t stop feeling hopeful after they have watched it. “Rain man” will surely warm your heart by seeing the autistic brother portrayed in such an empathetic way.

And finally a classic. E.T. Is a timeless classic that touches everyone’s heart. Seeing that friendship built between Elliot and E.T. will surely give you a rush of positive feelings.

What are some feel-good movies? 

There are some nice feel-good movies like Aladdin. The cartoon shows the history of Aladdin and his genie in the pursuit of the princess Jasmine and all the adventures they go through in the process.

Another feel-good movie is Clueless. This movie marked time showing how Cher and her high school friends lived privileged lives in California. It is a funny movie with a romantic background that will make you feel good almost instantly. 

And finally, Shakespeare In Love portrays a love story showing how Shakespeare found the inspiration to write his ultimate classic Romeo & Juliette.

What are the emotional benefits of watching movies?

Watching a movie can have a lot of benefits. One of them is that it will make you a more empathetic person, and make your relationships stronger. That is because by watching movies you will understand more of your emotions, and be able to relate more to people. 

It can also improve your mood and mental health. And even if you watch a sad movie, it is most likely that it will make you feel better. That is because you can relate to the feelings that are shown in the movie, and can externalize your own emotions.

Why do people enjoy sad movies? 

It may seem strange to some people, but others enjoy watching sad movies. But even though a sad movie can make you sadder at times, it can also make you so connected to the movie, or identify so much with the story that it can make you feel joy.

This may be related to that old saying “Tragedy Loves Company”. And research showed that this is related to the sense of realism, meaning that a sad movie leads people to view the story as more realistic; and the sense of involvement that people get from sad movies because they feel more involved in the story if they identify with it. 

What is Post-movie syndrome?

Post-movie syndrome is a condition that leads a person to feel sadness after they have watched a movie. This can happen because you got deeply attached to the story or a character, and as you identify with them, it may be hard to say goodbye.

It can also be because the movie brought you to an idealized world, and going back to your life may be hard. It can also happen if you feel let down by something that happened in the movie and letting that go can be hard. Post-movie syndrome can also happen if you were intensely invested in sharing this experience with others. 

You may have been talking about watching a specific movie with your friends and family, and as you finish watching it, it can seem like you lost some of your purposes, making you sad.


This article aimed at showing what are some known movies about depression and self-harm. The article also detailed how both were portrayed in the movie.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.



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