Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with.

According to CDC data, 18.5% of adults in the United States experienced symptoms of depression in any two-week period in 2019.

Unfortunately, depression symptoms often prevent people from getting the help they need.

The good news is, depression is treatable, and you enjoy sound mental health again if you pursue the right line of treatment.

Today, we’ll be guiding you through how to tell if you’re just feeling down or you may be clinically depressed. We’ll also be highlighting the many effective treatment options at your disposal if life feels like an uphill struggle.

If you are grappling with depression, you’ll see that you don’t need to suffer in silence and that you can kick back even if it doesn’t seem that way right now.


ambien withdrawal headacheThe most crucial thing to understand about depression is that it’s an illness and not a sign of weakness. Depression can affect anybody, and it can strike at any time.

Classified as a mood disorder, depression is characterized by feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, and loss that interfere with daily activities.

A patient with depression experiences persistently low moods, often to the extent that it becomes tough for them to function. Not only does this inability to carry out daily activities take a toll, but the ongoing feelings of sadness and resultant lack of motivation can impact all areas of your life, with depression affecting you:

  • Physically

  • Emotionally

  • Mentally

  • Socially

  • Professionally

  • Behaviorally

Now, you should not confuse depression with feeling down. Feeling low is a normal part of life’s ebb and flow. Reacting sadly to upsetting events is normal, too. When these feelings persist, and especially if they are not related to obvious external events, you could be suffering from depression.

While depression is common and affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans at some stage, it’s a serious medical condition that often gets worse without the proper treatment. Those who engage in courses of treatment for depression, though, can expect to see symptoms improve in as little as a couple of weeks.

What symptoms should you be looking out for if you believe that you or a loved one might be experiencing an episode of depression?


Depression is also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It is among the most common of all mood disorders.

The symptoms of depression can be severe, impacting the way you think, feel, and function.

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.

The APA (American Psychiatric Association) adds a qualification to the above definition of depression: symptoms must also trigger an altered level of functioning for a formal depression diagnosis.

Depression brings about more symptoms than a state of sadness.

Symptoms of depression can affect your body and your mind. These symptoms could be ongoing, or they may come and go. Every person experiences depression differently.

Men, women, and children also experience depression in a slightly different way


  • Mood: Irritability, anger, aggressiveness, restlessness, anxiousness.

  • Behavior: Loss of interest in normal activities, less pleasure in favorite activities, feeling easily tired, suicidal thoughts, using drugs or drinking excessively, taking part in risky activities.

  • Emotional well-being: Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless.

  • Sleep patterns: Insomnia, excessive sleepiness, restless sleep, pain and fatigue from lack of sleep, not sleeping through the night.

  • Cognitive abilities: Difficulty concentrating, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses in conversations.

  • Sexual interest: Reduced libido, impaired sexual performance.


  • Mood: Irritability.

  • Behavior: Loss of interest in normal activities, withdrawing from normal social engagements, suicidal thoughts, thinking more slowly, talking more slowly.

  • Emotional well-being: Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or anxious.

  • Sleep patterns: Sleeping too much, waking early, difficulty sleeping through the night.

  • Physical well-being: Fatigue, decreased energy, weight changes, appetite changes, headaches, pain, cramps.


  • Mood: Irritability, mood swings, anger, crying.

  • Behavior: Getting into trouble at school, worsening grades, avoiding friends and siblings, thoughts of death and suicide.

  • Emotional well-being: Feelings of sadness, despair, crying, incompetence.

  • Sleep patterns: Sleeping too much, sleeping too little.

  • Physical well-being: Loss of energy, changes in appetite, digestive problems, weight gain, weight loss.

To recap, people tend to experience depression in different ways with various symptoms also varying from person to person.



  • Postpartum depression

  • Bipolar depression

  • Seasonal depression

  • Major depressive disorder


cocaine pregnancyMild symptoms of depression and anxiety that fade within two weeks of delivery are often called the baby blues.

Full-blown depression, by contrast – either during pregnancy or after delivery – is termed postpartum depression.

The feelings of anxiety, extreme sadness, and exhaustion accompanying postpartum depression can make it challenging for new mothers to take care of themselves and their babies.

If substance use issues co-occur with postpartum depression, the coordinated treatment of both conditions delivers the most positive outcomes. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and psychoeducation can help alleviate both disorders.


Bipolar disorder differs from depression, but those with bipolar experience very low moods that satisfy the criteria of major depression.

Those suffering from bipolar disorder also suffer from extreme highs in the form of manic or hypomanic episodes.


Seasonal depression, commonly known as seasonal affective disorder, occurs when depressive symptoms present during months with less natural sunlight. Seasonal depression often triggers social withdrawal, weight gain, and increased sleep.

This form of depression typically lifts during spring and summer. The symptoms usually return in the colder months.


The most severe type of depression, major depressive disorder is characterized by feelings of persistent sadness, worthlessness, and helplessness.

Without treatment, the symptoms of major depressive disorder seldom go away.

For a mental health care specialist to diagnose you with depression, you must experience at least 5 of these symptoms in any two-week period:

1. Losing interest in normal activities.

2. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

3. Feeling depressed most of the time.

4. Problems with concentration.

5. Feeling fatigued most days.

6. Weight loss or weight gain.

7. Slowed thinking and movements.

8. Disrupted sleep patterns.

9. Persistent suicidal thoughts.


Your doctor may diagnose depression using of the following methods:

  • Physical examination: Your doctor may conduct a physical exam. He may also ask questions related to your health. Sometimes, depression is linked to underlying physical health problems.

  • Psychiatric evaluation: Your mental healthcare provider will question you about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. You’ll sometimes be asked to complete a questionnaire.

  • Lab tests: Your doctor may arrange a complete blood count. Thyroid testing is also commonplace when diagnosing depression.

  • DSM-5 criteria: The latest fifth edition of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) lists criteria for depression that your doctor may use for diagnostic purposes.

Antidepressants can help to relieve the symptoms of many cases of moderate and severe depression.

There are many types of antidepressants with slightly different mechanisms of action, but they all perform the function of stabilizing brain chemistry. These are the most common medications in this class:

  • SNRIs: Antidepressants like Pristiq, Effexor, and Fetzima are classified as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

  • SSRIs: SSRIs are typically the first antidepressants a doctor will prescribe. SSRIs are normally considered safe, and they cause relatively few side effects. Common examples include Zoloft, Prozac, and Citalopram.

  • MAOIs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as Marplan, Parnate, and Nardil are prescribed if other drugs fail due to the likelihood of experiencing severe side effects and the need to adhere to a strict diet.

  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include Tofranil, Pamelor, and Norpramin. While these medications are often effective, this type of antidepressant leads to more severe side effects than more modern alternatives. Tricyclics are no longer normally prescribed unless SSRIs have proven ineffective.

  • Atypical antidepressants: Examples of atypical antidepressants are Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, trazodone, and Remeron.

You may need to experiment with more than one type of antidepressant before finding one that relieves your symptoms.

Antidepressants can be prescribed in insolation, or they can be utilized in combination with psychotherapies. Psychotherapies in isolation can be effective for treating milder cases of depression.

These are among the most popular forms of psychotherapy used to treat the symptoms of depression:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly abbreviated to CBT, teaches you to explore the closely interrelated nature of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. Your therapist will help you identify what triggers your depression, and you’ll also discover how to cope better with life’s everyday stressors. CBT focuses on the present rather than probing the past. CBT sessions are weekly for up to 20 weeks.

  • Online cognitive behavioral therapy: If you are unable or unwilling to engage with face-to-face CBT, get the same benefits through virtual counseling. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or smart device.

  • Counseling: Work with a counselor to identify new solutions for the problems you are currently facing in your everyday life.

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: A therapist will prompt you to openly speak about what’s troubling you. The aim of this form of psychotherapy is to identify possible meanings in your thoughts or your actions that might be triggering your depression.

  • Interpersonal therapy: With interpersonal therapy (IPT), you’ll sharpen your communication skills to help you streamline your interpersonal relationships. Therapists can also guide you through coping with external stressors like bereavement, although this is no substitute for dedicated grief counseling.


Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder is when a mental health disorder like depression co-occurs with alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. Either the mental health disorder or the addiction can develop first.

Often, people suffering from depression self-medicate the symptoms with alcohol. While self-medication often provides fleeting relief, both conditions will be inflamed over time.

Dual diagnosis is becoming increasingly common, too. The most recent data from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 17 million adults in the United States experienced a co-occurring disorder in 2020.

According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), integrated intervention is the most effective form of dual diagnosis treatment.

Each of these conditions impacts the other, so you’ll need a comprehensive treatment plan targeting the symptoms of each condition simultaneously.

All dual diagnosis treatment should be highly personalized, but you can expect the following common elements:

  • Detox: Before you can engage with dual diagnosis treatment, you’ll need to detox from drink or drugs. This takes up to ten days. In the case of severe substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), medical detox is often recommended. This allows you to benefit from medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and around-the-clock medical care to safeguard you from complications during detoxification.

  • Inpatient treatment or intensive outpatient treatment: If you have a severe AUD or SUD and a co-occurring mental health condition like depression, inpatient rehab can be beneficial. If residential rehab is impractical or unaffordable, there are more intensive forms of outpatient programs available in the form of IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). IOPs offer up to 15 hours of weekly therapy in an outpatient setting, while PHPs are full-time outpatient programs offering up to 35 hours of weekly dual diagnosis treatment.

  • Medication-assisted treatment: FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder can be effective. These medications help reduce the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms, minimizing the chances of relapse at this critical early stage of recovery. MAT is always most effective when delivered alongside psychotherapy.

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy- CBT in particular – forms a key component of most effective dual diagnosis treatment plans. You’ll learn how to alter flawed patterns of thinking and implement healthy coping strategies rather than reaching for drink or drugs in response to life’s stressors.


If you suffer from depression in any form, you might feel as though nobody understands what you are going through.

You are not alone and almost one in ten people in the United States are going through similar experiences. You may also find support and encouragement in movies illuminating the struggles of people grappling with depression. Explore our curated selection of 15 of the best movies about depression and treat yourself to some you time.


Don’t Let Addiction Control You


Mental illness, especially depression, frequently becomes the setting for compelling dramas in television and popular movies. Perhaps this is because the situations and character struggles are so real and can be easily identified with by wide audiences.

While their primary focus is to provide some measure of entertainment, movies about depression can actually provide some therapeutic benefit. More than simple escapism, films can provide an outlet for thoughts and feelings.

“When we are feeling depressed, inspiring movies can serve as a kind of timeout from the way we are feeling,” says Howard Pratt, DO, behavioral health medical director at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI). “In those couple of hours, the right film can [be uplifting],” he says. “Films show us different perspectives and lives different from our own. In this way, a movie’s story gives us access to experiences and emotions that can help us feel better.”

Here are our 15 Best Movies That Help with Depression, as clinically reviewed by the team at Gratitude Lodge.

How Can Movies Help with Depression?

Good movies evoke a response in viewers. Even those who may be emotionally distant or have trouble expressing themselves emotionally can find themselves in tears or side-splitting laughter during a movie. Releasing emotions provides us with a cathartic effect, which can help us become more comfortable expressing our emotions.

Friends watching TV in evening at home

Watching movies can help us gain a better sense of our own lives and our place in the great scheme of things. Storytelling remains a powerful medium because we can see ourselves in the story. We may be compelled to a higher level of gratitude after seeing a particularly tragic scenario played out on screen, and be more thankful that our life isn’t so problematic. Or we may be able to better understand our own situation and reactions through how it is interpreted on the screen.

Movies give us a much-needed break from real life, even a movie about a condition we struggle with like depression. We are transported away from our own reality to a different time and place and can focus on something else for a while. This much-needed rest from reality can be an important therapeutic benefit that should not be overlooked as mere escapism.

Physically, movies can also trigger the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, followed by dopamine, which produces feelings of ease and pleasure. This physical reaction can provide welcome stress relief and relaxation to an otherwise troubled mind. Laughter releases endorphins that can be excellent for reducing stress and depressive mood symptoms.

15 Best Movies That Help with Depression

Each of the following movies can be beneficial to help those suffering from depression. Each film portrays a different scenario dealing with depression and the characters’ struggle. Not every film has a positive ending, which is true to life. However, some patients with depression and/or substance abuse issues may learn more about themselves by viewing a close situation on the screen. These movies that help with depression can also be valuable to interpret the complicated issues of depression for a patient’s family, bringing them a better understanding of their loved one’s condition and its struggles.

15 Best Movies That Help with Depression

Cake (2014)

Claire Bennet, played by Jennifer Aniston, has become resigned, hostile, and dependent on pain medication because she’s struggling with chronic pain after surviving a car accident that killed her son. Her recovery gets complicated as she encounters a suicide, a lawsuit, and the man responsible for the accident. Chronic pain is an invisible illness suffered by an estimated 50 million Americans.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

Sixteen-year-old Craig Gilner, played by Keir Gilchrist, voluntarily seeks help in a hospital after contemplating suicide. He bonds with patients in the adult psychiatric ward and eventually learns from his experience that he can get through the rest of his life with the help of his family and friends. Also starring Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis. A real journey of self-discovery is portrayed as Craig gleans life lessons from other patients in individual and group therapy.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Incoming freshman Charlie Kelmeckis, portrayed by Logan Lerman, suffers from clinical depression and PTSD. Charlie’s friend committed suicide and he has suffered the trauma of sexual abuse. On his first day of high school, he becomes friends with Patrick and Sam. The story follows how Charlie deals with the ups and downs with his new friends, relationships, inner conflict, and repressed memories. Also starring Emma Watson, Joan Cusack, and Dylan McDermott.

The Virgin Suicides (1998)

The Virgin Suicides stars Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnet, Danny DeVito, and James Woods, in a mystery about fantasy, love, terror, repression, sex, and death. A group of curious teenage boys in the suburbs of mid-1970s Michigan observe five beautiful sisters from across the street. Traditional versions of family life and love are challenged, as well as the boundaries of affection, responsibility, and acceptable behavior.

Melancholia (2011)

In a play on the word “melancholy,” Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland play in this odd story where Melancholia is the name of a rogue planet that crashes into earth, causing its destruction. The story depicts the lives and relationships of a handful of people leading up to the end of the world. Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged by events. This film raises serious questions about dealing with emotions under stress, painting melancholy people as more stable.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie play in this vivid portrayal of a woman named Susanna’s experiences in an American psychiatric institution in the 1960s. Based on the book by the same title by Susanna Kaysen. After attempting suicide, Sussana develops relationships with other women in the ward. Her journey reflects on the meaning of being mentally ill, struggles with her treatment, learning how to commit herself to become ‘well,’ and changing her relationship with how she engages in medical therapy. Winner of an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role by Angelina Jolie.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Follow the funny story of the Hoovers, a multi-generational family starring Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, and Toni Collette; also starring Alan Arkin. They vividly portray a troubled family riddled with constant friction that are transformed while on a road trip out west together. They endure one calamity after another, which forces the family to shift. The problematic vehicle becomes the symbol of their family, only functioning when everyone pitches in to contribute. Through this, they discover that their differences can actually complement each other instead of inciting friction.

Silver Linings Playbook 2012

Nominated for best picture of the year and winner of an oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role by Jennifer Lawrence, this romantic comedy-drama follows Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, who was released from a psychiatric hospital and moved back with his parents. Pat has bipolar disorder and is trying to win back his wife. Pat meets Tiffany, a young widow with borderline personality disorder, who offers to help him in exchange for joining her in a dance competition. Pat, his father, and Tiffany reflect on their relationship as they cope with their personal situation. Also starring Robert De Niro.

This film very vividly and accurately portrays a common borderline personality disorder symptom called “splitting,” which often results in individuals with the disorder rapidly and frequently oscillating between idealizing/loving and devaluing/hating important figures in their lives. Look for the scene in which Pat makes a cutting comment that deeply upsets Tiffany, whereupon she explodes and verbally eviscerates him on a public street.

The Hours (2002)

This film, winner of an oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role by Nicole Kidman, is actually three stories about different women in different decades. In 2001, Clarissa, a New Yorker, prepares a party for her AIDS-stricken long-time friend. In 1951, a pregnant housewife, Laura, escapes her mundane life by reading. In 1923, Virginia began writing the book that would later connect her to Laura and Clarissa. Also starring Meryl Streep and Toni Collette. Each of these women deal with suidide in their lives

Garden State (2004)

This film follows Andrew, played by writer and director Zach Braff, a depressed, heavily medicated, struggling young actor/waiter who returns to his hometown after his mother’s death. He meets Sam (Natalie Portman), another troubled character who supports him in sorting through his issues. Andrew’s long-time estrangement from his family is vividly portrayed and affects his attempts at recovery.

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Nominated for best motion picture of the year and winner of two oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role by Casey Affleck, and Best Original Screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan. Manchester by the Sea follows Lee Chandler (Affleck), a troubled, socially isolated man who is working as a janitor. Lee is unexpectedly called to return to his hometown upon his brother’s death, where he finds himself responsible for his 16-year-old nephew.

This film powerfully portrays grief, along with the additional complications of recent and past losses. Look for symptoms of Lee suffering from prolonged grief disorder or persistent complex bereavement disorder.

Numb (2007)

In this film that showcases a character with depersonalization disorder, Hudson Milbank (Matthew Perry) seeks psychiatric help because he finds himself feeling detached from the world around him and unable to connect with his surroundings both physically and emotionally. He finds solace through falling in love with Sara Harrison (Lynn Collins).

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This somewhat bizarre film features a medical treatment commonly used to treat severe depression or bipolar disorder, called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergo the procedure in an attempt to erase one another from their memories after their relationship turns sour. Both characters battle severe depression and actually seek to “rediscover” their love for one another.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Frank Capra’s classic from 1946 is often viewed during the Christmas holiday season, and few realize its potential for help with depression. Suicidal businessman George Bailey, memorably portrayed by James Stewart, is given a view of life as it would have been without him by the angel Clarence, played by Henry Travers. Also starring Donna Reed, Ward Bond, and Lionel Barrymore. Clarence allows him to observe a world without his many blessings, which forces George to realize just how rare and precious the good things in his life actually are, which instantly cures his depression.

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Winner of five oscar awards (including Best Picture) and starring film legends Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger, this high-acclaimed film follows Aurora and Emma, a widowed mother and daughter with a loving but tempestuous relationship that is tested over the decades. The tapestry of their lives contains many weaves of love and disappointment, fear, uncertainty, and sorrow.

If you have a drug addiction or are suffering from a mood disorder like depression, it is always best to seek help. Gratitude Lodge can help facilitate your recovery and work with you to build a long-term sober lifestyle that is sustainable and healthy. Get your life back on track — and start today!