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Mental Illnesses on Movies

Movie attractions about mental illnesses

Recently I wrote about the premiere of a new movie, Mania Days, which stars Katie Holmes and is based on the life of the author who has Bipolar disorder.  One of our Facebook friends asked where it could be seen.

Well, the answer, in short, is “not yet”.  It is an independent film and caught my eye because it premiered in Austin TX, near where Old Fox MovietoneI live. Unfortunately, no matter how good it is, it won’t be released on the “big screen” until the writer/director/producer has an offer from a large movie production company – for a lot of money.

He may get one of those offers at upcoming independent film festivals, and the prospects look good as the film has received positive reviews.  It is likely that no matter how good the film is, we won’t see it in theaters for several months, if not longer. (It will probably be available on DVD though)

Sorry if it was a big tease.  In any case, it got me thinking that there are some well-known and available movies that you can see.  Maybe you have seen them, but you probably haven’t seen all or even most of them.

The good news is that since mental disorders tend to produce notable or even outrageous and shocking behaviors, they do make good subjects for movies.  This list is only a few of the movies that I have seen – and in many of them, there is no clear “diagnosis” for the characters but the symptoms are there.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Most of the films that feature characters that may have borderline personality disorder focus on murderous women.  Certainly BPD doesn’t only affect females but it does make good movie fodder.

•    Fatal Attraction
•    Single White Female
•    Casino
•    The Cable Guy
•    Margot at the Wedding
•    The Crush

Anxiety Disorders –

Anxiety disorders are harder to see in a movie as a single issue as they often occur with other disorders – as they do in real life.

•    Ordinary People
•    Parenthood

Social Anxiety Disorder

Can result in avoiding being in public, speech disorders and fears of other social situations.

•    The Kings Speech

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a real problem, but many people don’t realize how debilitating it can be.  In addition, it is also an anxiety disorder but doesn’t show as well on the screen.

•    The Aviator
•    As good as it gets

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD often follows a “war” event – but can follow other traumatic events. In most cases, these events are “acute” but in some cases they are chronic, occurring over a period of many years.

•    Prince of Tides
•    Forrest Gump
•    Born on the Fourth of July
•    First Blood
•    Sudden Impact
•    Reign Over Me
•    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Autism

There is really only one good example that I know of – and it is a classic.  That said, it is not an exact example as Autism is a “spectrum disorder” that ranges from high-functioning to non-functioning.

•    Rain Man
•    The Boy Who Could Fly

Bipolar Disorder

There are actually a lot of movies that can be seen showing bipolar disorder though. Rarely do they discuss the actual diagnosis but here are a few good ones.

•    Mad Love
•    Blind Date
•    Michael Clayton
•    Manic
•    Of Two Minds

Clinical depression

In most cases, clinical depression doesn’t look good on a screen.  Unless the character has some other event going on, watching someone not do anything doesn’t attract movie attention.  In these cases, there were other things going on in the movie that made them interesting.

•    The Fire Within
•    Leaving Las Vegas
•    Rushmore

Silver Linings PlaybookAnd the winner for “Most Psychiatric Disorders Featured in One Movie” goes to:

•    Silver Linings Playbook
•    Girl Interrupted

Both movies show a number of intertwining psychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and eating disorder, are great films and two you really shouldn’t miss.

Most of these movies should be available on DVD.

Melissa Lind

List of films featuring mental disorders

The Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks come quite quickly, with little or no warning.

What is the physical aspects of an anxiety attack, you may ask?

An anxiety attack, which is also referred to as a panic attack, is not the same thing as “feeling anxious.” We all feel anxious from time to time, and many people even feel anxious all of the time — because they suffer from an anxiety disorder. However, anxiety attack — which is, of course, brought on by extreme anxiety — is just a side effect of anxiety.

Anxiety AttackAn anxiety attack comes on fairly fast, with little or no warning. They last as long as 10 minutes, but the average attack lasts between one and five minutes. After one has suffered one or several anxiety attacks, they accept it for what it is. First-time sufferers often think that they have a heart attack, or even a nervous breakdown. They may even think that they are dying — even though they aren’t.

While many people may think that anxiety attacks are brought on by mental issues, this isn’t quite true. We all have a fight or flight response. Sometimes, when one suffers from anxiety disorders, the fight or flight response goes into “overdrive.” This causes the body to be flooded with hormones, including adrenalin, which causes the other symptoms of a panic attack.

An anxiety attack can be quite overwhelming and scary. Several things occur at once — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Physically, people may start profusely sweating. They may become short of breath, have a pounding heart, experience chest pain, become dizzy and/or lightheaded, feel nauseous, and even hyperventilate. They may feel as they are being choked or smothered, and there are numerous other physical aspects of an anxiety attack.

Mentally, the person will feel complete out of control, experience as they are going crazy, may hear things louder than they actually are have racing thoughts, and have impaired vision. They may seem like life has either slowed down or sped up. They may feel as they are in a dream (or nightmare) state. Tunnel vision is also common during a panic attack.

Emotionally, they will feel terror. They may fear that they are dying, and they may experience flashbacks to either earlier anxiety attacks or other traumatic events in their lives.

As you can see, anxiety attack is no joking matter for the person experiencing it. Luckily, there are medications that can be prescribed to minimize the appearance of panic attacks, as well as the symptoms experienced during such attacks.

Understanding Mental Illness and Diagnosis

Many people are confused by mental illness and many will claim that they simply do not exist.

Mental Illness - Sad TeenagerThey mean that such conditions are caused by the persons experiencing it. However, every day there are counselors who are diagnosing people as having a mental illness conditions. The disease is difficult to determine because of this, whether or not a diagnosis is correct. Also because of this, there are many controversies surrounding these conditions.

Mental health is essential for everyday life. Most people are fit to go through life without glitches in their mental activity, but others seem to have constant interruptions. It`s these interruptions that show us that there is something going wrong in the brain of these individuals and that there is an existing problem.

To understand interruptions that occur in the brain we need to look at different diagnoses and symptoms. We could use bipolar depression for this example. Bipolarity is one of the most common disorders diagnosed in today`s society. In fact, you probably know someone with bipolar depression you just don`t know that they have it. Bipolar disorder is extremely common, but many people do not fully understand the condition.

Bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Meaning; the brain is denied of vital nutrients that it needs to maintain a stable mindset. Since lots of people are diagnosed bipolar, they do not have their whole life experiences taken into consideration; this can be an enormous problem for them.

We all experience stress, trauma and excitement in our lives. However, not everybody deals with these stressors the same way as somebody else would do. No one should be expected to cope with such stressors the same way as everybody else would do. There is a process that takes place that brings on the condition of bipolar depression.

The first thing we must consider is that all have some “triggers” in life. That triggers might be traumatic events that occur in one’s life. Now, everybody deals with these differently.

Some people will react negatively, and others ignore. Those individuals who ignore these issues are generally not hearing the messages in between. This is how we can separate a mentally ill mind from a so called “normal” way of thinking.

The mentally ill mind tends to consume everything in life that is said. They get it all, and they fell all of that process in their heads until this begins to cause confusion. The “normal” mind tends to listen only to what it wants to listen to, and they do not have these conflicting thoughts to cause the mental confusion.

To better understand this process, it helps also to understand cognitive mental health disorders and how these are related to the confusion that occurs in the mind.