What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. Mental illness, like physical illnesses, is on a continuum of severity ranging from mild to moderate to severe.  More than 60 million Americans have a mental illness in any given year.  Mental illness affects one in four adults and one in five children.  Very few people, however actually seek treatment for mental illness.  The stigma associated with mental illness is still the biggest barrier that prevents people from getting treatment or retaining their treatment.

Mental Health Conditions

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.

Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

Recovery and Wellness

One in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to a person’s directly experiencing a mental illness, family, friends and communities are also affected.

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. The normal personality and behavior changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health condition. Early engagement and support are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery.

 

 

                                                       Warning Signs and Symptoms

In Adults, Young Adults and Adolscents:

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance abuse

In Older Children and Pre-Adolescents:

  • Substance abuse
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments
  • Changes in ability to manage responsibilities – at home and/or at school
  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
  • Intense fear
  • Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In Younger Children:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

How to cope day-to-day

Accept your feelings

Despite the different symptoms and types of mental illnesses, many families who have a loved one with mental illness, share similar experiences. You may find yourself denying the warning signs, worrying what other people will think because of the stigma, or wondering what caused your loved one to become ill. Accept that these feelings are normal and common among families going through similar situations. Find out all you can about your loved one’s illness by reading and talking with mental health professionals. Share what you have learned with others.

Handling unusual behavior

The outward signs of a mental illness are often behavioral. A person may be extremely quiet or withdrawn.  Conversely, he or she may burst into tears, have great anxiety or have outbursts of anger.

Even after treatment has started, some individuals with a mental illness can exhibit anti-social behaviors. When in public, these behaviors can be disruptive and difficult to accept.  The next time you and your family member visit your doctor or mental health professional, discuss these behaviors and develop a strategy for coping.

Your family member’s behavior may be as dismaying to them as it is to you. Ask questions, listen with an open mind and be there to support them.

Establishing a support network

Whenever possible, seek support from friends and family members. If you feel you cannot discuss your situation with friends or other family members, find a self-help or support group. These groups provide an opportunity for you to talk to other people who are experiencing the same type of problems.  They can listen and offer valuable advice.

Seeking counseling

Therapy can be beneficial for both the individual with mental illness and other family members.  A mental health professional can suggest ways to cope and better understand your loved one’s illness.

When looking for a therapist, be patient and talk to a few professionals so you can choose the person that is right for you and your family.

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Autism
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Early Psychosis and Psychosis
  • Eating Disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Schizophrenia

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder where there are significant problems with attention, hyperactivity or acting impulsively.

Anxiety Disorders

Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes, but when it becomes overwhelming and repeatedly impacts a person’s life, it may be an anxiety disorder.

 

Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that makes it difficult to socialize and communicate with others.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic highs and lows in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly.

 

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by severe, unstable mood swings, impulsivity and instability, poor self-image and stormy relationships.

Depression

Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch: it’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and treatment.

Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders are spectrum of disorders that affect a person’s memory and self-perception.

Early Psychosis and Psychosis

Psychosis is characterized as disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what isn’t.

Eating Disorders

When you become so preoccupied with food and weight issues that you find it hard to focus on other aspects of your life, it may be a sign of an eating disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions).

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is the result of traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, an accident or a natural disaster.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as depressive or manic episodes.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia causes people to lose touch with reality, often in the form of hallucinations, delusions and extremely disordered thinking and behavior.

10 Comforting Things To Say To Someone With Mental Illness

Here are a few things that I have found helpful for parents, families, caregivers, and friends to say to a suffering loved one:

  1. We will get through this together: It’s wonderful when we can join with someone and make them feel supported and loved. The healing process or recovery process is always more successful when the person feels loved, supported, and understood. When you make someone feel like you are on their team, they are more likely to be motivated to succeed. You wouldn’t want to say something like “you need to get some help, your behavior is terrible!” Of course, some people need straightforward talk, but other’s don’t. In many cases, straightforward talk can lead to rebellion and increased oppositional behavior.
  2. You are not alone: Some people think that they are saying this very thing when they say “you are not the only one.” But you must consider the differences between each statement. To say “you are not the only one” can appear insensitive and as if you are minimizing the suffering of the sufferer. To say “you are not alone in this” has a feel of compassion and understanding. It sounds as if you are willing to help the person you are speaking to. “You are not the only one” can sound condescending and as if you are telling the person to suck it up.
  3. You will get through this somehow: It’s always helpful to remind someone suffering that there is always a rainbow after the storm. There are some situations in which the rainbow will seem delayed or seem as if it will never appear. But telling someone “you will get through this” is a nice way to remind the person that suffering has an ending (whatever that ending may be).
  4. I may not fully understand what you are going through, but I understand pain: Some people do not like to hear “I understand what you are going through” or “I understand….” I have had many clients say to their parents “you don’t understand what it’s like to be me?” or “you don’t understand how cruel kids are today.” In all fairness, we can never fully understand what the next person is experiencing because we all experience things differently. So I have found a better way to relate to clients who feel this way. To say something like “I may not understand what you are specifically going through, but I have experienced my fair share of pain,” conveys that you still understand the person but are not trying to minimize their experience.
  5. There is still hope for you: Some people feel so hopeless and helpless with their mental health challenges that they begin to either consider suicide or simply give up on life. When this happens, the person needs an anchor and someone to offer a word of encouragement and hope. I’ve done therapy with many teens who have a history of juvenile delinquency, sexual indiscretion, drug abuse, and sometimes even severe mental illness. These kids have often been through the system since early childhood and have sat in many therapeutic offices and detention centers. These kind of kids often come to my office feeling like there is no more hope because “I’ve done this so many times before and nothing has helped me.” I’ve had kids say to me “what makes you think you can help me if no one else could?” In situations like this, it is important to remain hopeful for the person who is no longer capable of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. To say “there is still hope for you” and to show the person why you think this is true, is a great way to instill hope and encourage motivation.
  6. Life doesn’t have to stay this way: This statement is a great way to remind someone that life changes and so too can someone’s illness. Depression doesn’t have to be “severe depression” forever. There are treatments available and with a balanced diet, physical fitness, medication, therapy, and other useful tools, depression can be treated appropriately. For someone who is struggling with a severe or untreated mental illness, it is okay to say “life doesn’t have to stay this way because I will be here for you” or “you will find the treatment you need, it takes time.”  The key is to always imply that there is hope. You don’t have to be overly positive. Be genuine, don’t give false hope! This can backfire.
  7. I will pray for strength and courage for you/your family: It’s okay to say that you will pray for someone. Some people do not like to hear this either because they are angry with God or do not believe in Him, or because it can sound condescending to some. But I think it all depends on how and when you say this. I personally believe it is okay for a close friend or family member (and even acquaintance) to say “I will pray that God will give you strength and courage.” It all depends on how and when you say this.
  8. Lets get out and do something fun: If you recognize that your loved one or friend is isolating and appears depressed, you can encourage them to get out more by changing the way you word your sentence. This is called reframing. Reframing is a great psychological tool because it takes a negative statement and puts a positive or more accurate spin on things. For example, instead of saying “you need to get out more, all you do is isolate” you can say “I read in an article that the best way to treat depression is by getting out sometimes and doing something you enjoy. Why not join me for dinner tonight?”
  9. I’ve been there too or I know someone who has: It’s perfectly alright to share your experience with a painful situation with someone who is suffering. This is called personal disclosurebecause you are sharing something personal that significantly affected you. Some people need to know that they are not alone. Some people do not want to hear the statement “you are not the only one,” but would rather just hear your personal experience. With caution, I use this tool a lot in therapy with my kids.
  10. Lets defeat this, don’t let it overcome you: Sometimes no matter what you say a person will continue to feel defeated by their circumstance. In some cases, the person just simply needs life to teach them how to deal with things better. But in other cases, I find that  some people need to hear that they can get up and defeat what appears to be defeating them. A simple reminder to not let something overcome us can be just enough to motivate us.

Books To Read

Sharing stories about the lives, struggles and hopes of those living with mental illness can be a powerful eye-opening experience. If you are looking to help raise awareness about mental health you can suggest a book about mental illness to your book club or just read one yourself.

 

The Chocolate Debacle By Karen Winters Schwartz
Trey Barkley is a twenty-six-year old dog walker living with schizophrenia. Due to the suspicious circumstances of the death of his client and friend, Florence Loughton, Trey finds himself dealing with the prejudice of the local police and even an accusation of murder.

The Girl From Human Street By Roger Cohen
In his memoir Roger Cohen, a columnist and former foreign editor ofThe New York Times, follows his family’s troubling history of rejection, due to anti-Semitism, and struggles with cross-generational mental illness.

A Mother’s Climb Out Of Darkness: A Story About Overcoming Postpartum PsychosisBy Jennifer H. Moyer
In this memoir Jennifer Hentz Moyer tells the story of her journey with postpartum psychosis. Following the birth of her son Jennifer struggles with the often misunderstood disease and its symptoms including insomnia, irrational fear, distrust and delusion.

 

The Invisible Front: Love And Loss In An Era Of Endless WarBy Yochi Dreazen
When Major General Mark Graham’s two sons both die within months of each other he and his wife Carol are quickly introduced into the complexities and stigmas of mental illness in the military. Together they commit their lives’ work to transforming the current standards of the military’s stance on mental illness.

The Price Of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective On Mental IllnessBy Liza Long
In her book Liza Long tells the story of children with mental illness and disabilities and the families who struggle against problems such as limited financial resources, difficulty obtaining diagnoses and policies that do not allow early intervention, giving rise to what Long describes as a “school-to-prison pipeline.”

 

Unhinged: A Memoir Of Enduring, Surviving And Overcoming Family Mental IllnessBy Anna Berry
Unhinged captures how the author, Anna Berry, is able to break free from the cycle of mental instability, and masterfully chronicles her family’s story. The story tells of Berry’s own amazing recovery and her ongoing fight to help her family members who still struggle.

Shadows In The Sun: Healing From Depression And Finding The Light WithinBy Gayathri Ramprasad
In her memoir Gayathrl Ramprasad gives a unique cross-cultural take on mental illness by telling the story of her own battle with depression and her journey to recovery.

8 Keys To End Bullying Strategies: For Parents & SchoolsBy Signe Whitson
This book is a guide for parents and school personnel, to help define and consequently stop bullying. In her book Signe Whitson explains what children may be vulnerable to bullying and how to prevent it.

My Age Of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, And The Search For Peace Of MindBy Scott Stossel
Scott Stossel’s book is about the “history, literature, philosophy, religion, popular culture and recent scientific research” of anxiety. The stories which he shares range from heart breaking recollections of his great-grandfather, who was committed to the famous McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., to some seemingly bizarre treatments Stossel has faced.

The Gospel According To Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar MitzvahBy Josh Rivedel
Twenty-five-year-old Josh Rivedal thought that he was going to have the perfect life but in reality he was a college drop-out struggling to keep his relationship of six years alive, trying to understand his father’s suicide and all at the same time dealing with his own depression.

The Fog Of Paranoia: A Sister’s Journey Through Her Brother’s SchizophreniaBy Sarah Rae
Pat and Sarah were not only brother and sister they were also lifelong best friends. When once outgoing Pat began to become withdrawn and paranoid he was soon diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Soon his and Sarah’s lives were changed forever.

Sometimes My Mommy Gets AngryBy Bebe Moore Campbell
With her grandmother’s help, Annie learns to navigates the challenges of having a parent with a mental health condition and discovers her own resilience.

Haldol And Hyacinths: A Bipolar LifeBy Melody Moezzi
Melody Moezzi, born to Persian parents and raised in America, chronicles the events of her life both prior to and following her bipolar diagnosis in this rousing, humorous and moving memoir.

I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need HelpBy Xavier Amador
This powerful book combines Dr. Amador’s clinical and personal experiences, providing helpful information, research and advice for both mental health praofessionals and family members whose loved ones are living with a mental health condition.

Standing In The Shadows: Understanding And Overcoming Depression In Black MenBy John Head
Award-winning journalist John Head explores how depression is percieved and stigmatized in the African American community. This work provides an understanding of the legacy of silencing black men’s mental distress and offers solutions on how to repair the damage.

Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not HurtingBy Terrie Williams
Author Terrie Williams shares her personal experience with depression to shed light on mental illness in the African American community and convince those suffering in silence to seek help. By recognizing the truth about mental illness and seeking assistance,  recovery and healing are possible.

The Seven Beliefs: A Step-By-Step Guide To Help Latinas Recognize And Overcome Depression By Belisa Lozano-Vranich and Jorge R. Petit
This guide presents seven beliefs that can help women in Latino communties recognize and understand depression in themselves and others. Through testimnials, motivational tips and an extensive list of resources, the authors provide tools that can empower readers to become physically and mentally heallthy.

7 of the Best Movies About Mental Health

.Autism: Rain man (1988)

This classic movie tells the story of a man living with autism, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and his brother Charlie (Tom Cruise). Raymond’s characteristics throughout the film accurately exemplify the habits and ritualistic behaviors of someone who is autistic. The beginning Rain Man is the first time the brothers are meeting, when Charlie discovers that he has an older brother. Their father’s passing has left behind a $3 million dollar inheritance that was supposed to go to Raymond’s care at the mental health hospital where he lives. In order to try to gain this inheritance, Charlie checks Raymond out of the psychiatric hospital and takes him back to LA with him. Their road trip across the country proves to be life changing as the characters get to know each other.

Anxiety: What About Bob (1991)

What About Bob? is a comedic story about the hostile relationship between a self-involved psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfus) and his patient, Bob Wiley (Bill Murray). Bob is an extremely needy patient with high levels of anxiety. When Dr. Marvin leaves for vacation, Bob decides to follow him and his family. Dr. Marvin is driven to his breaking point when he cannot get Bob to leave. This movie is humorous in its depiction of a patient vs. psychiatrist dynamic and shows the importance of finding the mental health provider.

OCD: As Good As it Gets (1997)

Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an anti-social novelist living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in As Good As It Gets. Melvin generally dislikes all people with the exception of a waitress who works at the diner where he eats lunch every day. When his neighbor gets into an accident, Melvin agrees to look after his dog. Taking care of the dog and beginning a friendship with the waitress help him to begin his recovery from OCD. This film truly showcases how ostracizing it can be for someone to live with OCD, and how challenging it can be to make connections with people who understand the symptoms.

Schizophrenia: A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind is a true story of the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Russel Crow), a mathematical savant, who lived with schizophrenia. The movie truly captures the challenges that he faced including paranoia and delusions that alter his promising career and his life. “

Bipolar disorder: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

After spending time in a mental health hospital, Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) is forced to move back in with his parents. The symptoms of living with bipolar disorder have caused him to lose both his wife and his job. He is determined to get his wife back and meets someone, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who offers to help him in exchange for being her ballroom dance partner. Silver Linings Playbook represents the range of emotion that often occurs within someone who lives with bipolar disorder in a way that is both real and riveting.

Depression: The Skeleton Twins (2014)The opening scene of Skeleton Twins shows the two main characters, Milo (Bill Hader) and Maggie (Kristen Wiig), both attempting suicide. Milo’s attempt lands him in the hospital, which reunites the brother and sister back together after 10 years of estrangement. Both of these characters express their depression in a way that is both candid and humorous as they learn to accept each other and themselves. “I really enjoyed The Skeleton Twins. I could relate to it, and I thought the story and characters were charming,” said Anne Rinaldi, a member of our Facebook community.

General Mental Health: Inside Out (2015)

This quirky animation personifies the different emotions inside of a young girl’s mind. Joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust try to help guide Riley through a tough time when she is forced to move to San Francisco. The emotions learn to work together to help Riley get through the turmoil of adjusting to her new life. Inside Out is a clever, modern and well-made film that puts mental health into a new context.

The Hours (2002)Alternating between writer Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman in her Oscar winning role) in 1923 (and in the introduction 1941), housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) in 1951 and the modern, independent New Yorker Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) in 2001, the three protagonists are interlinked by Woolf’s novel “Mrs. Dollaway”.

Melancholia (2011)Kristen Dunst realistically portrays Justine’s sudden depressive episode during her wedding which is triggered by her parents’ (John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling) disappointment with her for marrying Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) as well as her boss’s/father-in-law’s (Stellan Skarsgård) constant harassment concerning her work. Dunst is set apart from her previous roles through her bold disinhibition and catatonic behavior.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)After George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George’s wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never there.

A Single Man (2009)When he sees and converses with his handsome student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), the color becomes overly saturated, especially when contrasted with the dull monochromatic tone of the screen when George is by himself. Besides the narrative and the cinematography, the Abel Korzeniowski score finds rare beauty in the ordinary daily events of George’s life since each will be happening for the last time.

The Virgin Suicides (1999)In an ordinary suburban house, on a lovely tree-lined street, in the middle of 1970s America, lived the five beautiful, dreamy Lisbon sisters, whose doomed fates indelibly marked the neighborhood boys who to this day continue to obsess over them. A story of love and repression, fantasy and terror, sex and death, memory and longing. It is at its core a mystery story: a heart-rending investigation into the impenetrable, life-altering secrets of American adolescence.

 

Ordinary People (1980)Robert Redford’s Oscar winning directorial debut deals with the aftermath of the death of one of the teenage sons of a respectable upper-middle class family

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)Hated by his wife Ethaline (Angelica Huston) and all of his once-genius children, he attempts to reconnect after 22 years – for completely selfish reasons since he has been kicked out of the hotel where he has been living and has learnt that Ethaline has become engaged to her co-worker (Donald Glover). However, once Ethaline refuses to speak to him, he claims to have stomach cancer so as to be accepted back into her and his children’s lives.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)The film centres on a dysfunctional family made up of an overworked, stressed mother, Sheryl (Toni Colette), her arrogant, ‘loser-hating’ motivational-speaker husband Richard (Greg Kinnear), his vulgar, drug-addicted father, Edwin (Alan Arkin) and their two children – the unhappy 15-year-old Dwayne (Paul Dano) who has taken a vow of silence until he manages to get into the US Air Force Academy and little pageant contestant Olive (Abigail Breslin).

Side Effects (2013)Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller revolves around the newly reunited Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) and the recently released from incarceration husband Martin (Channing Tatum). Just as their life together begins afresh, Emily drives her car straight into a concrete wall at a high speed. After this suicide attempt, she is assigned to psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) who lets Emily remain at home, as long as she sees him regularly.After Emily suffers from many unwanted side-effects from different anti-depressants, Jonathon prescribes the new drug “Ablixa” which was suggested to him by Emily’s previous psychiatrist, Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

The Fall (2006)Set in a Los Angeles hospital in 1915, the young Romanian-born girl Alexandria who is there after breaking her arm coincidentally meets a bed-ridden Roy Walker (Lee Pace) who tells her a story about Alexander the Great, her namesake, and promises that if she comes back, he will tell her an epic tale. This is the parallel fantasy narrative that is narrated by Roy and seen through Alexandria’s perspective as she uses people from around the hospital that she has seen as faces for the characters in his story.

Girl, Interrupted (1999) In 1967, after the 18-year-old unmotivated Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) downs a bottle of Aspirin with vodka and is sent to a psychiatric hospital even though she insists that she was not trying to kill herself, she is stuck with nurses, psychiatrists and mentally ill girls.She befriends her roommate and pathological liar Georgina (Clea DuVall), the sexually abused and bulimic Daisy (Brittany Murphy), the anorexic ballerina Janet (Angela Bettis), the childlike, self-inflicted burn victim Polly (Elisabeth Moss), the mentally challenged lesbian Cynthia (Jillian Armenante) and especially the sociopathic and manic Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie in her Oscar and Golden Globe winning role.

Cake (2014)Another “Friends” star turned dramatic depressive; Jennifer Aniston plays the chronically pain-ridden Claire whose life deteriorated both emotionally and physically after a car accident. She is alone except for her loyal and sympathetic maid Silvana (Adriana Barraza) and visions of Nina – a girl from her chronic pain support group who killed herself. (Anna Kendrick).Claire becomes curious about Nina and meets her husband (Sam Worthington) and their young son. Her life is slowly exposed as it is revealed that Claire also had a son, who died in the car crash which damaged her back. The grief caused her and her husband to divorce. Becoming more dependent on pain medication and frustrated with physical therapy and group counselling, Aniston portrays an exasperated and tired woman who sees no real purpose except to complain about her pain and ignore the circumstances that led to it.

Sylvia (2003)While in the film Sylvia (Gwyneth Paltrow) confesses her past mental instability to Ted (Daniel Craig), in real life she hid her depression from him. There are multiple warning signs and triggers presented throughout that foreshadow her suicide, as well as Plath’s mother’s (Blythe Danner – Paltrow’s actual mother) advice to Ted from about her fragility. His multiple affairs, her rightful feelings of betrayal, and always feeling outshined by her husband culminate in hopelessness.

An Angel At My Table (1990)Although Jane was diagnosed with schizophrenia, many later believed that she was initially misdiagnosed due to her lack of hallucinations or delusions, and probably was severely depressed instead. She was treated with electroconvulsive therapy and insulin, as well as a scheduled lobotomy.

Movies That Helped People Cope During Their Depression

“It’s my happy place – I’m seven again and nothing is wrong with the world.”

Life of Pi“I realised life is an adventure and isn’t truly what is seems, but if we stay true to ourselves and our beliefs we will find home again, that our inner-demons can be tamed, and they will leave us when we are truly ready to discover the world ahead.”

Silver Linings Playbook“Watching them work through their problems and accept their faults made me feel like I could make it through okay too. And all the adorable dance scenes got me up out of bed and wanting to be moving and active again.”

Lost in Translation“It’s definitely a movie for introverts, and I found the music very soothing. There’s a lot of time to reflect rather than be distracted, which helps me sometimes. It’s not necessarily a happy movie, but I adore it.”

Lilo and Stitch

Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.L-lost… [looks at the forest around him] I’m lost![crashes through the wall and picks up a Volkswagen] Blue punch buggy! [car hits Jumba] No punch-back!This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah – still good.Also cute and fluffy!

 

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

“Elizabeth Bennet’s spirit and independence was always inspiring, and the soundtrack and cinematography is soothing.”

. The Harry Potter series

I was too tired to reread the books when I was at the peak of my depression, so I watched the movies and escaped to a world where I didn’t have to worry about my problems.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas “I know it sounds a little odd, but I really identified with Jack, who everyone thought had it all together but who was, in fact, really lonely and wanted more out of life.”

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

“For whatever reason, the movie I watched a hundred times during the worst of my depression was the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There’s something so calming about Gene Wilder in that movie.”

Cool Runnings“It’s my happy place – I’m seven again and nothing is wrong with the world.”

127 Hours“I first saw it almost five years ago. After that my life was completely changed for the better. I had depression so bad, I turned to self-harm. 127 Hours made me realise how valuable life is, how important your loved ones really are, and to never, ever, give up.”

The original Star Wars trilogy

“Life in general seemed worth it knowing that at the end of the day, I could watch the Rebel Alliance take on the Empire.”

The Lego Movie“I’ve been struggling with depression for about five years now. I’ve always felt like I was nobody and I am always going to be a nobody. The message in The Lego Movie gave me hope. I am special. Everybody is special. You can achieve great things. Just hearing that brought me to tears.”

It’s A Wonderful Life“Ugh, when George Bailey is sitting in the bar saying a prayer and looking so desperate, I bawl, cathartically.”

Austenland“Even when I’m having the roughest day, I watch the movie Austenland. It’s a reminder that when life seems boring and repetitive, that things can change in an instant. Keri Russel plays the most relatable character I’ve ever seen. It’s also funny as all hell.”

19. The Perks of Being A WallflowerWe accept the love we think we deserve.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
“It made me believe in myself again. Made me believe I could be a wonderfully written story.”

(500) Days Of Summer(500) Days Of Summer helped me realised that life may seem really bad and like it could never get better, but that opportunities and happiness are right around the corner if you’re willing to get out and take them.”

The Princess and The Frog“Being from South Louisiana, it always brought a certain sense of comfort and familiarity to me. Also, who doesn’t love a good animated Disney movie?”

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

“The constant questioning of who you really are and the self-confidence build up really helps your brain focus on what’s mostly important.”

Pan’s Labyrinth“I must have watched it a million times but I still cry every time.”

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The Birdcage “When I’m depressed, I always end up watching The Birdcage because I know it will make me laugh every time without fail. Plus, the late great Robin Williams stars in it, and any Robin Williams film is magic to my mood.”

Into the Wild “Really calms me down in any situation.”

Spirited Away “I never fail to get lost in that movie.”

Evil Dead II “My freshman year of college was beyond rough. On Friday nights, I would rent movies and lock myself in my dorm room to watch them. I watched all of the Evil Dead series, but Evil Dead II will always be my favourite. It sparked my love for horror movies, and it made me laugh super hard. When I was having an awful weekend, I just watched Bruce Campbell movies and felt better. I got to meet him a few years ago at a Con and I told him about this, and he was really kind and supportive of it, and now it means that much more to me.”

Where The Wild Things Are“I was going through a lot of personal and family issues, I was a super sensitive person and still am. A movie I still watch to get a good cry and feel better is Where The Wild Things Are. It’s so much more than an adaptation of a children’s book.”

The Lord of the Rings trilogy “It makes me feel like there’s always some good amidst the darkness.”

Stand By Me“It showed me how to be a kid again and to let my wild side out. It helped me learn how to deal with the problems I had with myself and it allowed me to connect with each character in a different way. I will always love it.”

Inside Out“Seeing that it was okay to be sad and that it was necessary to truly feel alive helped me know that I didn’t have to force myself to be happy all the time. It allowed me to begin to accept myself as I am again.”

Man on Wire “I believe Man on Wire helped save my life. I did a project on Philippe Petit and it gave me purpose. He is such a source of hope. Life is beautiful.”

Pitch Perfect “I watched it at least twice a week during the worst time. It took me to a happy place.”

44. The Producers (1968)It’s the movie I’ve seen the most times and grew up watching – some kids had Disney, I had The Producers. It still cracks me up even though I know it by heart. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are golden together. It never fails to make me smile. Really, a stunning piece of work.”

45. Girl, Interrupted “It showed that you are not your mental illness. No matter what you struggle with you can still be the kindness you want to find in the world.”

46. Les Misérables“I remember the first time I saw how passionate the character Enjolras was about everything he did for France. The portrayal gave me hope to go after what I wanted and get rid of what was holding me back. If I have the drive, I can do anything. I may get shot down, but at least I gave it my all.”

47. Back to the Future“It made me laugh and smile and distracted me from my dark thoughts for a good hour and a half or so.”

 

 

 

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