Post Movie Depression Syndrome (A 7 point guide)

Today’s blog post focuses on ‘Post Movie Depression Syndrome’. We start by taking into consideration the meaning and the psyche behind the post movie depression syndrome. We also understand the time when it was seen first. This will then be followed by the reasons for people to experience the syndrome. And lastly, we take a look at the ways in which the syndrome can be dealt with.

It is very natural for people to experience emotional outbursts after watching an emotionally charged movie. However, a lot of times, we tend to get attached to the emotions, characters, story or the scene within the movies which may also get manifested in the form of what is known as the post movie depression syndrome.

Post Movie Depression Syndrome

Post movie depression syndrome is an actual feeling, a period and a new identity that the individual may have after watching a movie.the feeling comes from the warmth that the movie creates and leaves us wanting to experience more of it. 

What is the post movie depression syndrome?

The Urban Dictionary defines the post movie depression syndrome as the sadness that is experienced after watching a really interesting movie or a series. It is a bitter feeling that people may experience when the movie is over but they do not want it to end. People who experience the syndrome often call the experience close to that of a break up. 

When we get involved in a great story, be it from a movie,  a book, a series, we get drawn into the fantasy, romance, drama and action. Anxiety specialist Kevin Foss further explains that, over the span of the movie, we tend to develop an intimate relationship with the characters that we most identify with and end up being a part of their emotional development. We start to identify with their wins and their losses. Identifying with the character or the story enables us to be part of the fantasy world. 

Therefore, when the movie ends, it becomes difficult for us to part with the characters. Sometimes, the emotions that we experience while parting from the movie can be similar to the ones experienced when we lose a loved one. One of the major reasons why we feel so drawn to the movies and their characters is that the movies become an idealised representation of the way we want to live our lives and therefore the reality may seem dull and boring. 

Further, psychologist Jeanette Raymond adds that one of the reasons we feel so sad after a movie ends or a character dies is because we perceive that a part of us ended with the end of the movie. She further asserts that because of this the reality may make the person experience grief, depressed and purposeless. 

The post movie depression syndrome gained popularity during the movie ‘Avatar’,where there were cases of people committing self-destruction after watching the movie. The reason for this was that the fictional world of ‘Pandora’ was extremely beautiful and no place on earth could possibly match its beauty. This phenomena was also seen in Bollywood Movies (Film Industry in India), where the movie ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ (Translation: Made For Each Other) created a stir wherein several couples committed self-destruction after watching the lead pair committing self-destruction at the end of the movie. 

Let’s take a look at the reasons in a greater detail.

  • Wanting to see the world from a different perspective:

Movies quickly shift the person to a different world all together. This fantasy world may be very different from the current situation of the person which may be boring and slow. Watching the movie helps the person vicariously live the life that he or she aspires to live.

  • Wanting to see more of it:

Although people may experience the syndrome after watching a movie, they may either want to stay in the feeling or watch another movie in order to experience the feeling. This can be attempted by downloading the songs from the movie, reading about the actors, watching the scenes again, buying fan merchandise etc.

  • Gives way to emotions:

Movies often help the people express the emotions that they have not been able to express in the real life situations. And because the reality is not something they wish to be a part of, they may get disappointed when the movie ends. 

  • Sense of unfulfillment:

Because the reality around them is not the same as the movie, they may experience a displeasure over it and thus may want to watch more of the movies to be a part of the fantasy world. 

  • Movies are often a projection:

Movies often serve to be a projection of our ideas about how we want our lives to look like, and after watching a movie that has left them depressed, they are likely to deal with their emotions alone, and may often be puzzled and bewildered about feeling that way as they may not be aware of the projection that is taking place.

Effects of the post depression syndrome:

The effect of feeling sad after watching a movie is often manifested in the following ways:

  • A state of feeling depressed
  • Inability to watch another story
  • Need to rewatch the movie to re experience the emotions and situation
  • Excessive projection of the love towards something else
  • Creating or being a part of a fan fiction related to the movie. 

Although extensive research has not been done with this syndrome, here are a few effects that people may experience after watching a movie in detail.

  • Never watching a similar movie again or Inability to watch another story:

Because of the flood of emotions that the person may have experienced after watching the movie, he or she may have been disturbed or confused about feeling it. This may create a resistance to watching similar movies in future and although the person may want to have the fantasy in the reality, they may engage in an avoidance mechanism in order to avoid feeling the overwhelm of emotions.

  • Going back to the same movie or different versions of the movie:

They may re-watch the movie and different versions of the movie to re experience the emotions and the warmth associated with it. They may also take up fan-fictions, buy merchandise or watch similar literature. As the person watches the movie again and again, there may be different interpretations that he or she can obtain with each view.

  • Projection of their love towards something else:

The passion and love for a particular movie can be manifested in something different, wherein people may try to project it on a particular book or even another person.

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Dealing with post movie depression syndrome:

  • Introspecting the specific part within the movie that made them depressed:

Although it is natural to feel depressed after watching a movie, it is necessary to introspect the specific aspects of the movie that may make them feel the particular way and to understand the reasons for it. There is a high possibility, one which is seen in most cases that, when movies show an element that is missing from our real life, it may lead to feelings of depression. Identifying those elements is the key to insight.

  • Not staying in the fantasy world for too long:

Although the fantasy world may seem very lucrative, staying away from reality can have its own serious drawbacks. The person can experience depersonalisation, may not be able to relate to others,may isolate oneself and also take some serious steps such as self-harm, in severe instances.

  • Understanding that the reality can be fulfilling too:

Constantly striving for the world shown in the movie not only takes the person away from the reality, but also would make the world less relatable to the person. However, by taking into consideration the positive aspects that the reality holds, the person may be able to negotiate and may be able to deal with the situation better.

  • Staying in the moment:

Sometimes, the best a person can do is to stay with the feeling and wait for it to fade out on its own, rather than fight it. Staying in the feelings offers a better understanding of the source of the feeling, the intensity of the emotion and also the irrational beliefs that may have been attached to it. The person may come to verbalise their emotions correctly and more accurately.

  • Taking a break from the genre:

Many times, it is not a specific movie but the genre itself that leads to the syndrome and the syndrome may become amplified especially after a life event has been experienced which is similar to the one shown in the movie or related to the genre. Taking a break from the genre for some time can help the person process their own feelings and deal with the situation, before they can get back to the genre. 

Resolving one’s own feelings in relation to the situation can help neutralise the depressive symptoms that can be experienced to a great extent. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can movies affect your mood?

Watching movies help us release our emotions, and give us a catharsis effect. Movies also give the person an ease of expressing the emotions as the movies or the series act as a trigger for emotions. Release of emotions often paves way for a breakthrough in counseling as well as in real life situations. 

Are movies bad for your brain?

A recent study that was conducted by the New York University has understood that watching certain kinds of movies can trigger more brain activity than others. The success of this study has prompted the filmmakers to use this phenomena while making movies.

Can watching sad movies make you happier?

Tragic movies can elicit positive emotions in some people as it gives them a chance to introspect and view the positives in their lives, something that was absent in the movie. These movies often make the people think of their loved ones and count the blessings. 

Is it bad to watch sad movies?

Studies show that sad movies can sometimes make us happier. Sad films are seen to boost the endorphin levels in the brain and increase emotional and physical pain tolerance. However, this may not be applicable to everyone.

Why are happy endings important?

Happy endings are important and are looked forward to as they instill hope, a belief that the obstacles can be overcome and that the good will win over the evil. This applies to writing books as well.

Conclusion:

Today’s blog post focused on ‘Post Movie Depression Syndrome’. We started by taking into consideration the meaning and the psyche behind the post movie depression syndrome. We also understood the time when it was seen first. This was then followed by the reasons for people to experience the syndrome. And lastly, we took a look at the ways in which the syndrome can be dealt with.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/psychologists-on-how-to-fill-the-emptiness-you-feel-after-binging-a-great-show

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Post-Series%20Depression

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