In any given one-year period, 9.5 percent of the population, or about 20.9 million American adults, suffer from a depressive illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Consider how this translates to audiences – almost ten percent of people suffer from depression, meaning that they will relate to characters who struggle with the same daily battles they face. Depressive illnesses often interfere with normal functioning and cause pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them. Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the ill person. If one character suffers from depression, every other character he or she interacts with will be affected too. Because depression’s symptoms manifest themselves subtly, a storyline incorporating depression need not be a “very special episode” or entirely based on depression.
In this section of EIC Online you will find science-based information about depression, including a subsection on suicide tailored for entertainment creators. We all know that depicting depression and suicide can be tricky, especially with worries that viewers and sponsors might be offended or alarmed by references to suicide; however, approaching these issues with great care can carry more inherent drama than almost anything else. Depression can be a life-or-death situation – with those stakes, the drama is built in. This section of EIC Online is here to give you the information you need from experts and people who live with depression or have survived suicide.
This section of EIC online contains most of the information you need to know to understand depression better. If you would like to speak to a mental health expert or set up a free briefing for you, your production or studio, contact EIC’s First Draft service.