What is Avatar depression syndrome?

In this article, it will be discussed what Avatar depression syndrome is. It will explain where it came from, how people that have had it describe going through it, and how they cope with it.

Aside from that, the article will show why it is important to differentiate this from depression, but how it also can be a warning sign about how people are living their lives. 

What is Avatar depression syndrome?

Avatar depression syndrome is a feeling people experience after watching the movie Avatar, by James Cameron, of 2009. The syndrome is said to be a reaction to the realization that we live in a very different universe than the one shown in the movie.

People that say they went through the syndrome refer to a sense of hopelessness with the future of humanity and earth when compared to the colorful and harmonious world of Pandora. Because of that, some people have also said they contemplated the idea of suicide because of the lack of hope.

The idea left after watching the movie is one of wanting to escape reality, and go live in the universe described in the movie, and on the other hand, there is an intense sense of despair when considering the reality of the human condition right now.

What is the plot of the movie?

Avatar is a movie written and directed by James Cameron, it was released in 2009, after 4 years in the making. The movie won many awards, had a record box office, and millions of people saw it.

The movie is set on another planet, an alien planet, called Pandora. The planet is inhabited by a community called Na’vi, 10 foot-tall, blue, humanoids. Although at first sight, they might seem less developed, it is shown throughout the movie that they are highly evolved.

Humans try to explore minerals on that planet, since the movie is set in the year 2154, and the earth is depleted of its natural resources. To explore Pandora, which its environment is toxic to humans, avatars are created to be controlled by the human mind. One of the humans, who controls an Avatar, falls in love with a Na’vi, and while the human plans to explore Pandora, he will try to save the community and the planet with people he learned to love.

What can specialists say about it?

Specialists tend to be conflicted about the use of the term depression to describe the state generated after people watch the movie. Although all feelings should be embraced, and there is a possibility that a piece of art would touch us deeply, as it seems Avatar touched so many people, depression is a serious mental illness, one that impacts 5% of the world’s population, it shouldn’t be a name to be used lightly.

On one hand, it is understandable that contact with this idyllic world, where the sense of community and belonging is so intense, can cause a person to question their sense of community and belonging. That might bring up feelings that were already there but weren’t named. It can make the person feel isolated, unable to relate to the world around them, and those can be felt, when intense and prolonged, that can lead to depression.

On the other hand, when naming the effect the movie might have on a person, it is important to be careful to not banalize the meaning of depression. It is a serious condition that is based on intense and long-lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

If a person watches the movie and experiences those feelings, they should pay attention to how long they last, their intensity, and if it is a feeling that is present in all aspects of their life. If a person continues feeling like that for a period greater than 2 weeks, they should look for professional help.

Are the feelings of Avatar depression syndrome similar to the symptoms of depression?

Yes, feelings of depression disorder can be similar to what a person feels like if they have Avatar depression syndrome. In both cases a person might feel isolated from their peers, unable to relate or feel understood by them.

Aside from that, depression has a great impact on how the person sees the world and the future. They tend to see the world and all that is in it in a negative form, the sense of hopelessness is also present when a person has depression, they can’t perceive the idea that there is a future ahead when they won’t be hurt anymore and that life might seem more appealing.

The same seems to happen to people with Avatar depression syndrome. They might feel like the life they are leaving at the moment is not worth it, this can even make a person consider suicide. But, in the same way with a person with depression, it is important to separate what depression or expectation of a better world is, and what the positive aspects of the life they have now are.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What is Avatar depression syndrome?   

How can I cope with Avatar’s depression syndrome?

When a person develops Avatar depression syndrome, it might just happen that the movie brought to their attention feelings and thought that might just have been bowling under the surface. The person could already be feeling disconnected from their reality, not relating to people around them.

That sensation of feeling disconnected and isolated can be a sign of depression, once the person feels it can relate or find pleasure in any aspect of their life for a significant amount of time. To deal with that, a person might look for therapy as a way to try and establish a positive bond with another human being, or maybe get in touch with any person you feel it might be easier for you to relate to.

It might also be important to understand that the world we live in, although full of anguish, also has its possibilities of positive emotions and connections. The world shown in the movie has a perfect appearance, but how real is the possibility of living a life without conflicts? 

Conflict, although sometimes is hard to deal with, has its role in our life. It’s through them that we sometimes decide to make some life movements that might bring us to new and amazing places. This is not a thing to idealize suffering, far from it, but to understand that the conflict also plays a role in our growth as humans.

Is depression genetic?

Depression can have multiple factors. It can have a genetic aspect to it, meaning if you have a family history of depression you have a higher chance of developing it. But it also has an environmental aspect, or it can also be caused by a situation a person is going through in their life.

The traumatic situation can be a divorce, the loss of a loved one or going through a financial or legal problem. Aside from that, people that have had previous depressive episodes are more likely to develop another depressive episode in the future.

How does the Avatar movie relate to our reality in the world?

The Avatar movie brings a discussion about the exploitation of cultures named as being less developed. In the movie, human beings need to go to Pandora to explore its resources, believing that they are a lesser society, it is assumed that it would be an easy thing to do.

But humans learn that it is a society with its values, and way of working, that structures itself in a different way, and with different values. It can be related to how one may judge other people’s culture and beliefs beforehand.

That might be a positive thing to take from the movie, that a relationship based on the exploitation of another person is not a healthy one. A relationship should be based on trust and on the interest of growing together. 

Could there be love in the world without hate?

There could be a world with love and without hate. But what is important about this question is the implied situation if we could only live experiencing positive feelings.

Everyone would like to have a life in which we don’t experience frustration, anguish, or anger, but if we had never experienced any of those, how would we know how important positive feelings are? Don’t we love someone a little more because we know it is not possible that everyone would appeal to you in that way? Isn’t that what makes them special?

This is something relevant when talking about the Avatar depression syndrome, since it may be related to this feeling that only this perfect, idyllic world would be a source of happiness. It should be important to embrace not only the positive emotions and aspects of our lives but also the negatives.

Is having suicidal thoughts different than being depressed?

To answer if having suicidal thoughts is different than having depression it is important to explain those suicidal thoughts is not a mental condition, rather it is a symptom of one.

People might experience suicidal thoughts when going through a few mental illnesses such as depression, or they can also experience it because of some life situations they are going through, could be a legal or a financial problem, but it is usually related to a situation where the person feels trapped and without any possibility to get out of.

Suicidal thoughts can happen, when a person is depressed, as a thought that no one would miss the person or that they don’t have any reason to be alive. When those thoughts are there, it is important to understand if the person contemplating suicide is just thinking about it or is planning, that’s when it is urgent to look for help.

If the suicidal thoughts are coming from a thought of absence of possibilities, surround yourself with people that will support you, who you can share your troubles with might be a good way to rethink the stressful situation with a little more distance and maybe find another way out of it.


This article it was discussed the concept of Avatar depression syndrome. What it is, what people that claim to have it feel like, and what are ways to cope through it.

Aside from that, the article detailed why it is important to categorize Avatar syndrome and depression in different ways, but how developing Avatar depression syndrome can be a warning sign about a person’s mental health condition.

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




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