Bipolar Advantage

Being bipolar without disorder.

Movies to See While Depressed

We all mentioned that the mainstream belief is that we would be triggered into uncontrolled depression if we saw anything sad; so, we should be watching comedies to help us get out of the depression. We concluded that we prefer sad movies because it helps us to explore the richness of the experience and become more clear about it; comedies seem inappropriate for the state. Read More

I distinctly remember all the

I distinctly remember all the movies I watched when I was depressed; they were all movies that were likely to make you cry while watching them: very emotional movies, most of them with a heavy theme of 'loss' through the movie.

I also remember reflecting afterwards, about why I picked those movies, and I think the idea of the 'richness of the experience' is a very true one. I remember that I was able to empathise and connect much more with the characters experiences than before, and I think that it helped to vicariously experience those kind of emotions; close to my own, but not quite about me. Enough distance to not be raw, but enough emotional proximity to be able to create a connection and process my own thoughts better.

Inspiring vs. Terrifying

When I'm mildly depressed inspiring movies like Gravity and Pursuit of Happyness help me get moving. When I'm moderately to severely depressed inspiring movies just don't cut it. That's when I turn to scary movies to help me break out of my funk. There's nothing more inspiring and motivating then being scared for your life. Usually by the end of a horror movie I come away with an appreciation for my mundane problems.

The important thing is both inspiring and terrifying movies tend to have protagonists who face difficult/scary situations with courage.

Happy vs sad

I never really liked to watch scary movies, thrillers or action, and since I got sick I defenatly can't watch them. I simply take in the emotion and the atmosphere in movies so strong and it triggers strong reactions of heartbeat and eventually crying.

So, as boring as it sounds I stick to romantic comedies:)

Story as problem solving

I think I've found myself watching both at various times.

If I choose to watch something that's sad, it's more likely because I want to feel a sense of connection - that I'm not alone - so the movie typically reflects whatever issue I may be dealing with. Another reason for this is that, as a writer, I'm keen to story-as-problem-solving. Does the movie provide a good, workable solution to my personal experiences?

I almost always eschew big, dumb action movies as they typically pile on the sense of emptiness. I need something to chew on, something to stimulate my mind.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

I have trouble thinking of depressing movies that don't end with at least a bit of hope. All that to say, watching What Dreams May Come is torture for me, depressed or not.

When I'm depressed, it is so much of an effort to put in a movie or turn the channel on the tv, the only intervention is professional help. However, when I'm on the edge of it, I tend to watch movies that make me cry. Powerful movies that stir emotions. I think depression is truly an absence of emotion for me, a pit of darkness without light. Having that absence filled with actual feelings, conjured from drama on the screen or not, is cathartic, motivating, and hopeful. To just feel something. That's why I might watch sad movies when I'm depressed.

One of my go to movies is Dead Poets Society. I might not feel better necessarily. I might envy the boy who commits suicide. But sometimes, I hear the barbaric YAWP in my head. And maybe I'll sit up, or pull out my journal.


When I was depressed I only watched depressing movies. I liked being able to have a reaction to something, a reminder I was still a feeling human. Sometimes it was good to have the reminder that other people felt as awful as I did, that I wasn't having this phenomenal experience, rather that it was a very common but unspoken experience.

Comedies felt so vapid. They were reminders of how empty and dark I felt, because they weren't funny.


I need to see that others have struggles and can overcome them. I need to see real emotion, even if it's an illusion; so my go-to movies are, "Things We Lost in the Fire" and "A Map of the World". My wife doesn't understand why I watch "sad" movies when I'm depressed.


I preferred reading while depressed. I used to read feminist books (reasons to be sad) and historical novels (others have had it worse).

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Tom Wootton founded Bipolar Advantage with the mission to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives.


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