12 Movie Characters With Anxiety Disorders

winona ryder, Girl Interrupted, 90s movies, movies/tv
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Movie characters, they're just like us!

12 Movie Characters With Anxiety Disorders

I'm not here to state the definition of anxiety, what it feels like, or how to cope with it. There are boat loads of articles and personal stories about anxiety. Many people have it and the severity is a sliding scale for most.

Movies on the other hand are made for one thing in mind: entertainment. Well, probably two things in mind: entertainment and making money. (See The Avengers franchise.)

Movies can pull you out of your world, distracting you from your troubles for an hour and thirty minutes. Or, they can show you you're not alone in your struggles. Death, divorce, mental health issues—it's refreshing to see something familiar on screen. It's nice to be represented.

Seeing a movie character with an anxiety order is especially entertaining; mainstream characters with real people problems. You are not alone. And, the general public is being introduced (or re-introduced) to a disorder that affects "6.8 million adults" in the United States alone.

These 12 movie characters struggle with anxiety disorders. Some wear it like a badge of honor and some serve as cautionary tales. But the filmmakers and actors behind them are doing a service to the public through raising awareness about the mental health illness.

via Unsplash

1. Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted)

Based on the novel of the same name, Girl, Interrupted follows Susanna Kaysen (played by Winona Ryder) who has a nervous breakdown and is sent to a psychiatric hospital. There she meets all sorts of characters battling with various mental health issues of their own. The cast is talented, the characters are real, and the story will resonate with you long after the credits roll.

2. Charlie Kelmeckis (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

Another movie based on an excellent novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will send you back to high school, bad memories and all. The depression and anxiety Charlie feels is all too real during his first year of high school, but he'll have to confront the trauma from his past to truly move on.

3. Cameron Frye (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

Although Ferris likes to poke fun at Cameron, he is seriously dealing with some shit. His friendship with Ferris seems one dimensional and Cameron can't catch a break when they steal his dad's Ferrari for the day. It's refreshing to see such a real depiction of anxiety especially in a comedic movie.

4. Rachel Watson (The Girl on the Train)

Another great book, The Girl on the Train confronts alcoholism, anxiety, and depression. When Rachel loses her job she rides the train past her old life—her house that her husband lives with another women. But it isn't all it seems. We see Rachel try to deal with her own issues while trying to uncover mysterious events and avoid toxic people from her past that made her disorders worse.

5. Allison Reynolds (The Breakfast Club)

The Breakfast Club is filled with dynamite characters but Allison Reynolds is often overlooked. And although she may be a stereotypical outcast in the film, her anxiety and exclusion is palpable. But the beauty of this classic film is that the five characters, who are so different from each other, end up relating to each other on a deeper, more meaningful level. Thanks John Hughes!

6. Joel Barish (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Both Joel and Clementine, the leading characters in this film, battle with mental health issues. After a relationship-ending fight, Clementine seeks to erase the memory of Joel from her mind. Through flashbacks, their trials and tribulations are evident all while overcoming personal battles of anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and more.

7. King George VI (The King's Speech)

The future King George VI has to fix his speech impediment before he steps into power. Sometimes our insecurities are obvious and our anxieties public. But with a tight support system, we can overcome a lot of the scary things in life.

8. Amélie Poulain (Amélie)

Cute little Amélie had an eclectic childhood that formed who she is as an adult. She uses her uniqueness to help others, vowing to track down a boy who hid childhood memorabilia in the walls of her apartment. Cute, quirky, and imaginative, Amélie reminds viewers that it's okay to be different. In fact, it should be celebrated.

9. Andy Stitzer (The 40-Year-Old Virgin)

Andy might have some anxiety based on the fact that he has never had sex, and he's 40. But he overcomes his issues while remaining true to himself. Moral of the story? Don't let your coworkers convince you into getting your chest waxed if you really, really don't want to.

10. Bob Wiley (What About Bob?)

What About Bob gave us one of the most annoying characters in cinematic history, but Bob made no apologies about his true self. Even crashing his therapists vacation was lost on him but hey, he sought out help when he needed it—even if it irritated Dr. Leo Marvin.

Editors note: I could write a dissertation on how badly I'd like to taste the meal in the iconic dinner scene.

11. Todd Anderson (Dead Poets Society)

Another classic! English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams) inspires a group of young prep school students through poetry. Another movie depicting the anxiety of school, the pressure that comes along with it, and the relationships teenagers must balance. Todd Anderson, played by Ethan Hawke, is a new student who transforms from a shy, reserved student, to a leader.

12. Milton Waddams (Office Space)

Poor Milton. The punching bag of the office, he can't stand up for himself and is often ignored. And although Office Space is a fun comedy, there's some serious truth to Milton, especially in the workplace. I think most people can commiserate with the inability to speak up when your career is on the line.