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Coping with Anxiety and Depression - Resources for Students: Fictional Characters with Anxiety and Depression

Fictional Material Featuring Characters with Anxiety and Depression

Fictional Material Featuring Characters with Anxiety and Depression


Anxiety and depression can make those experiencing them feel isolated, and like they are having difficulty connecting with others. Feeling isolated can cause the person to socially withdraw from others, dwell on negative feelings and qualities, and more. Some find that reading books, playing games, and consuming other media featuring characters who are going through the same experiences as them.

Note: This list is by no means comprehensive, and is based on popular recommendations for those experiencing anxiety and depression as well as personal recommendations offered by university faculty and staff.


Classic Novels

  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - Mrs. Dalloway is a novel set over the course of a single day, following high-society woman Clarissa Dalloway as she finishes final preparations for a party, and reflects on her life choices, and the day of First World War veteran Septimus Smith as he struggles with depression and PTSD after witnessing the death of his friend.
    The duality of Clarissa and Septimus is believed to show the difference between her inner thoughts, represented by Septimus, and the self she presented to the world, Clarissa. Woolf suffered from Bipolar disorder from the age of fifteen and described her own mind as “buzzing, humming, soaring, diving and then buried in the mud”. Themes of mental illness are often explored in Woolf's works, with Mrs. Dalloway being one of her most famous.

* Mrs. Dalloway has also been adapted into a movie and inspired The Hours by Michael Cunningham.
Note: This novel includes frank discussions and themes of suicide and death.
Find Mrs. Dalloway at the library.


  • Watership Down by Richard Adams - Originally told as stories to his two young girls on long car rides, Watership Down follows the journey of two rabbit brothers, Fiver and Hazel, to Watership Down, a hill in the north of Hampshire, England, near the area where Adams grew up. From the summary, it probably sounds like a wholesome story, but it's anything but. The novel opens with Fiver, an anxious rabbit who suffers from visions he sees during epileptic seizures, witnessing a vision of the warren's imminent destruction by humans. After he and Hazel fail to convince the chief rabbit of the validity of Fiver's vision, the two leave for Watership Down and encounter other rabbits and animals along the way who struggle with their own personal issues, as well as with issues within their society.

* Watership Down has also received a movie adaptation, TV series, miniseries, and even a roleplaying game named "Bunnies & Burrows."
Note: This book includes graphic descriptions of violence and animal death.
Find Watership Down at the library.


  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysA feminist and anti-colonial response to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea describes the background to Mr. Rochester's marriage from the point-of-view of his mad wife Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who is dubbed the "madwoman in the attic" in Brontë's novel. The novel follows Antoinette from her childhood and being forced to marry a rich Englishman who forces her to become a maid to save the family, as she grows up and is slowly driven "mad" by the situation she has been confined to in the attic.

* Wide Sargasso Sea has received multiple adaptations, including a film and a song by Stevie Nicks.
Note: Wide Sargasso Sea includes themes of abuse, mental illness, and misogyny.
Find Wide Sargasso Sea at the library.


  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Told from the perspective of Esther Greenwood, a woman who gains a summer internship at a magazine in New York City, but finds herself unhappy and disoriented rather than excited, as she felt she would be. Upon returning home to Massachusetts, she finds herself continuing to struggle emotionally and academically. The novel follows Esther as she struggles to get the help she needs to move forward and heal mentally.
    The Bell Jar has received multiple film adaptations.
    Note: The Bell Jar contains discussions of suicide, sexual assault, and medical abuse.
    Find The Bell Jar at the library.


    YA and Children's Literature
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - This book follows the life of Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy who is implied to be on the autism spectrum. He lives with his father and is still processing the death of his mother when he discovers the body of his neighbor's dog, Wellington, speared with a garden fork, and comes under suspicion for the dog's murder. Taking it upon himself to investigate Wellington's death despite the anxiety, depression, and social difficulties he is struggling with and discovers that getting justice for Wellington will mean uncovering more secrets than he ever imagined.

* The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has also been adapted for the stage, and a movie adaptation is planned, but has not been produced as of 2020. A Bengali-English adaptation of the novel has been filmed by Sudipto Roy called "Kia and Cosmos." The gender roles of the characters are reversed, and it centers around the killing of a cat called Cosmos.
Note: This book includes graphic descriptions of animal death, as well as depictions of emotional and physical abuse.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the library.



  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - Told in letters addressed to an unknown friend, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows 15-year-old Charlie as he struggles with the suicide of his only friend from middle school and the death of his favorite aunt, as he tries to help his two friends, Patrick and Sam, with their own personal issues, and tried to come out of his own shell.

* The Perks of Being a Wallflower has also been adapted into a film.
Note: The Perks of Being a Wallflower includes descriptions of suicide, PTSD, sexual abuse, child abuse, drug use, homophobia, and institutionalization.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is available via Inter-Library Loan


  • Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume - Intended as the male coming-of-age companion to Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, Then Again, Maybe I Won't follows twelve-year-old Tony Miglione as he struggles with the stress of his parents moving from their average, working-class life to one of much higher stature after his father sells an invention. He watches his parents change fundamentally and feels neglected, as he struggles to understand changes within his body and mind. To make matters worse, he discovers his new friend, Joel, isn't exactly the well-behaved kid he appears to be in front of grown-ups, and he finds himself developing feelings for Joel's big sister. An empathetic and realistic look at both puberty and at the realities of how much damage anxiety can do to an adolescent, Then Again, Maybe I Won't is an excellent read for those going through a difficult transition in their life.
    Note: Then Again, Maybe I Won't includes discussions of underage drinking and dangerous behavior as well as voyeurism.
    Then Again, Maybe I Won't is available via Inter-Library Loan.

  • The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick SharrattA children's novel told from the point of view of Dolphin Westward, a young girl who believes her quirky, tattooed mother Marigold is "the most magical mother in the world." Her older sister, Star, however, feels differently. Marigold's erratic behavior, a drinking problem, and wild tattoos embarrass Star, who knows this isn't normal. When Star's father comes back into the picture, she jumps at the chance to live with him and invites Dolphin to come, but Dolphin stays local to her magical mother, even as she falls apart due to the loss of Star.
    The Illustrated Mom has been commended for accurately depicting Bipolar disorder, particularly through the eyes of a child who isn't able to fully understand what is happening. Additionally, Dolphin is struggling with depression due to bullying and dyslexia that cause her social isolation at school.
    Note: The Illustrated Mum contains an implied suicide attempt as well as discussions of child abuse and neglect.
    The Illustrated Mum is available via Inter-Library Loan.


    Mysteries and Thrillers
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - This novel centers around Libby Day, a woman struggling with PTSD, depression, kleptomania, and with drug use after the murders of her mother and sisters as a child in the 1980's, of which her brother, Ben, was convicted. He was convicted in part due to the Satanic Panic surrounding child abuse and violence in the United States around the time of the murders, as he was a teenager interested in metal and gothic styles who hung around with "the wrong crowd." The novel is told through the perspectives of Libby Day, in the present, as well as through her mother and brother's perspectives in flashbacks.
    In need of money, Libby joins a group of amateur sleuths who offer to compensate her for looking further into the murder, believing that her brother is innocent. In agreeing, she is forced to confront her worst memories but is also provided with a way she can move on, get closure, and the proper support for her difficulties.
    Dark Places has also been adapted into a film.
    Note: Dark Places contains graphic depictions of violence, as well as discussions of dangerous behavior, drug addiction, child abuse, and bleak descriptions of poverty. Dark Places is likely the most disturbing book on this list, and it is strongly recommended that it be approached with caution.
    Find Dark Places at the library.


  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - Told from the perspectives of three women, Rachel, Anna, and Megan, all of whom have their own secrets and struggles. Rachel is an alcoholic who is having difficulty adjusting to being single after her husband leaves her for Anna. Each day, she takes a train ride past her old house, where Anna and her ex Tom, now live with their child Evie. She also fantasizes about the daily lives of a couple she sees a few doors down, Megan and Scott, whose lives she images to be perfect, until one day, she sees Megan kissing another man. Shortly after, Rachel blacks out and comes to injured, and learns Megan has gone missing, and she becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about what happened to Megan, and whether or not her blackout is connected to the events.
    * The Girl on the Train has also been adapted into a film.
    Note: The Girl on the Train contains heavy discussions of alcoholism and drug use, domestic abuse, adultery, and child abuse.
    The Girl on the Train is available via Inter-Library Loan.


Dark Comedies

  • Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett - This novel follows the life of Jessa-Lynn, a Floridian taxidermist hiding her depression and grief as she tries to keep her family, and family business, afloat following the suicide of her father. In addition to this, Jessa and her brother are also processing the voluntary disappearance of her brother Milo's wife, Brynn, who they were both in love with. While it may sound a bit bleak, Mostly Dead Things is considered a dark comedy, laced with humor, memorable characters, and the hope of new love.
    Note: Mostly Dead Things includes a graphic depiction of suicide, as well as elements of PTSD, a mental breakdown, drug addiction, adultery, and sexual activity.
    Mostly Dead Things is available via Inter-Library Loan.

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - Told from the perspective of Eleanor, a finance clerk and social misfit dealing with past trauma, instability, and a manipulative mother. Even though it is obvious that she is struggling and having a difficult time adapting, she insists she is "completely fine." Eleanor also develops an obsession with Johnnie Lomond, the lead singer in a band she won tickets to see, convinced they are destined to be together, and begins to follow him on social media, even as a real-life connection starts to develop with a colleague.
    Note: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine contains discussions of child abuse, stalking, suicide, and alcohol abuse.
    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is available via Inter-Library Loan.

  • Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty - Nine Perfect Strangers follows nine guests from very different walks of life, such as a famous romance novelist and an average married couple, who have decided, for their own personal reasons, to attend a 10-day "Mind and Body Total Transformation Retreat" at a resort called the Tranquillum House run by an eccentric woman named Masha. As the retreat begins, guests start to notice that something about the retreat is "off," and become unsettled. Throughout the retreat, each guest's past is revealed, as well as their reasons for coming, and each begins their own healing journey amid the bizarre circumstances they have been thrust into.
    Note: Nine Perfect Strangers contains discussions of drug abuse, suicide, severe depression, and alcohol abuse.

    Nine Perfect Stranger is available via Inter-Library Loan.


    Note: If you are not on campus and would like to request an eBook or print version of a book on this list that is only available on campus, you can request the book via Inter-Library Loan

TV Shows


  • BoJack Horseman - As a former 90's sitcom star with wealth and a renewed "nostalgia" interest in his old show, BoJack Horseman seems to have a lot going for him. When tasked with writing his memoir, though, BoJack keeps missing his deadlines, and his publisher insists he has a ghostwriter follow him and listen to his story. Seeing his life of endless partying and distraction through the eyes of another, BoJack realizes it's time to make some major changes, and that he must confront his past in order to regain his sense of self, and maybe have a resurgence in his career.
    Note: BoJack Horseman contains drug use, sexual content, as well as discussions of child abuse and adultery.
    BoJack Horseman is available to stream on Netflix.


  • Dead to Me - Following the death of her husband at the hands of a hit-and-run driver, Jen Applegate joins a support group for people who have recently experienced loss in order to process the anger she feels towards the driver of the car who has not been found and in order to process her grief so she can move forward. After Jen mentions that she is unable to sleep since her husband's death, a fellow member of the group, Judy Cardellini, offers to stay up on the phone with her every night, and the two develop a close friendship. As they get closer, both of the secrets both women harbor start to come to light.
    Note: Dead to Me contains violence, reckless driving, sexual content, discussions of suicide, PTSD, and domestic abuse.
    Dead to Me is available to stream on Netflix.

  • The Golden Girls - Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia are all elderly women who find themselves sharing a house in Miami together after losing their husbands. All are grieving, but working on moving forward with their lives and building new relationships, both as friends as well as moving forward romantically. The show also addresses multiple struggles each has faced in the past and addresses topics such as surviving a robbery, handling grief, and feelings of isolation from each being far from their respective families, yet finding a new kind of family in each other.
    The Golden Girls is available to stream on Hulu.

  • Aggretsuko or "Aggressive Retsuko" - Retsuko is a single, 25-year-old anthropomorphic red panda who works in the accounting department of a Japanese trading firm. Known for her hard work and willingness to tackle new projects, Retsuko is often put upon by her colleagues, particularly the pig (literal pig) who runs the department, Director Ton, who often makes misogynistic comments about her. She dreads her work every day and wants nothing more than to quit her job and start her life over. Luckily, she has friends at work, like her male hyena friend, Haida, and female fennec fox, Fenneko, who do their best to keep her happy.
    She does have a coping mechanism that she keeps secret from her friends and family, though: by night, Retsuko sings death metal by herself in karaoke bars.
    Note: Aggretsuko contains misogynistic comments and behavior and emotional abuse.
    Aggretsuko is available to stream on Netflix.

  • Daria - Daria Morgendorffer and her sister Quinn are both the "new girls" at Lawndale High, but they couldn't be more different. While Quinn focuses on being "attractive and popular" and choosing a boyfriend while also being vice president of the Fashion Club, Daria is much more reserved. Representing the frustration of the "Generation X" kids who were coming of age in the late 1990s, Daria struggles with depression and a general dislike for the culture around her, where people are encouraged to conform to the same ways of thinking, feeling, and dressing. She expresses these frustrations in her writing, as her best friend, Jane Lane, does in her art. Honest, thoughtful, and well-written, Daria is a must-see for those who feel isolated from others due to depression and anxiety.
    Daria is available to stream on Hulu.



  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Yale and Harvard-educated real-estate lawyer Rebecca Bunch is prone to depression, anxiety, and making impulsive decisions. One of these decisions was to uproot her entire life in New York City to follow her ex-boyfriend Josh Chan to West Covina, California in search of the happiness she wasn't able to find before.  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows Rebecca on her journey to discover what makes her happy, and get the help she needs to get there.
    Note: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend contains reckless behavior.
    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is available to stream on Hulu.


  • Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You - 15-year-old Sawako Kuronuma has always had a lot of trouble making friends simply due to the fact that others perceive her as having a "scary" face. Her classmates even so far as to dub her "Sadako" as a reference to the girl from The Ring, who similarly has long, straight black hair, and pale skin. Rumors even begin to spread that she can see ghosts and curse people, despite the fact that, in reality, she's a quiet, sweet girl who wants nothing more than to help others. She has been isolated for so long that the idea of making friends is completely foreign to her, and she has basically given up on developing close connections with others when she enters high school. Much to her surprise, however, a popular boy she admires named Kazehaya begins talking with her and helping her forge new friendships with people and change her image among the student body. As they get closer, Sawako begins to develop romantic feelings for her new friend as well and hopes that these feelings will be reciprocated, and she can have the life she always wanted.
    Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You is available to stream on Hulu.

  • Princess Jellyfish "Kuragehime" - Centered around the character of Tsukimi Kurashita, a NEET who has a fascination with jellyfish, and the fellow members of an apartment building called Amamizukan where the only tenants are other otaku women, and where men are barred from entry. Aside from her "sisterhood" of fellow Amamizukan residents, she is socially isolated and finds it difficult to complete even basic tasks if they involve going outside.
    In leading a life that is largely isolated, she feels she is not only letting down herself by making it more difficult to pursue her dream of becoming an illustrator but her mother, who passed away when she was a child and is the source of her obsession with jellyfish. When she was young, her mother told her that all little girls can grow up to be "princesses," but she feels that instead of growing up to be a princess, she has become a "freak."
    One night, she has a chance encounter with a beautiful young woman, who she refers to as a "beautiful princess," who she later finds out is a man and self-described "cross-dresser" named Kuranosuke Koibuchi. Rather than think she is a "freak," like most of the beautiful people she refers to as "The Stylish" do, Kuranosuke finds Tuskimi and her friends charming, and starts spending more time with them, and does his best to win all of them offer. Then, he starts noticing something: for some reason, he can't stop thinking Tsukimi...
    Princess Jellyfish is available to stream on Funimation.

  • The Sopranos - The Sopranos follows Tony Soprano, a mob boss suffering from depression and PTSD due to the crimes he has committed. When he starts suffering multiple panic attacks and realizes he can no longer handle the stress of supporting his family, running his mafia family, and keeping it all a secret, he starts going to therapy, where he finds a way to talk about his problems without exposing what he really does for a living. Widely-regarded as one of the best television shows of all time, The Sopranos is filled with engaging stories and characters, with Tony being only the tip of the iceberg.
    Note: The Sopranos includes sexual themes, adultery, and violence.
    The Sopranos is available to stream on Hulu.



(Dark) Comedies

  • Ghost World Based on the underground graphic novel of the same name, Ghost World follows Enid and Rebecca, who have been best friends since childhood, through the summer after they graduate high school, and set off on their journey to each find a job so that they can finally move into an apartment together. Both are social outcasts who have found a deep connection with each other and the other "weirdos" of the world, the two, at first, continue their life as they usually would: people-watching, convincing their long-suffering friend Josh to give them rides to places and pulling pranks.
    A combination of the last two pastimes is what causes their paths to collide with Seymore, an older man who they set up on a fake blind date after finding his oddly-specific personal ad in the paper. Enid, feeling terrible for shattering his heart, decides to become Seymore's friend and makes it her mission to find him a girlfriend by the end of the summer. As the summer goes on, however, Enid's obsession with Seymore starts to cause a rift between Enid and Rebecca and make Enid question what really awaits her in the adult world.
    Note: Ghost World contains sexual themes, underage drinking, and suicidal ideation.
    Ghost World is available to rent on Amazon Prime, and the graphic novel version is available in the library's collection.


  • Colossal - Gloria has been struggling for a year since she was fired from her writing job, drowning her sorrows in drugs, alcohol, and parties. Her partying and severe depression cause her boyfriend, Tim, to leave her and kick her out of the apartment, leaving her broke. With no other options, she returns to her hometown and lives alone in her empty childhood home as its sole caretaker. She reunites with her childhood friend, Oscar, who offers her a job at the bar he owns. Unlimited access to alcohol only furthers her drinking problem, and, one morning, she wakes up to discover that a monster attacked Seoul, Korea while she was blacked out. Every morning, at the same time, this monster appears and wreaks havoc, behaving in a way that reminds Gloria oddly of herself...
    Note: Colossal contains alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, emotional abuse, and domestic abuse.
    Colossal is available to stream on Hulu.

  • Sunshine Cleaning - Rose and her sister Norah are both going through tough times, and have been for a while. Norah can't seem to keep a steady job and still lives at home with their father while Rose, a single mother, works tirelessly as a housekeeper for the rich. When Rose's son Oscar keeps acting up at school, things get even worse: she's told he needs to be placed in a private school which she cannot afford. Rose confides this in Oscar's father, a married cop, who suggests that she get into the business of crime scene cleanup. Rose and Norah start their own crime scene cleanup business expecting to encounter the grossness of death, but what they don't expect to find is their purpose in life and a wider understanding of what it means to be human.
    Note: Sunshine Cleaning contains gore, adultery, and suicide.
    Sunshine Cleaning is available to rent on Amazon Prime.



  • 10 Cloverfield Lane After breaking up with her fiancé, Ben, a distressed Michelle packs her bags and leaves her apartment in New Orleans. As she drives away, she's involved in a violent car accident and wakes up chained to a bed in a bunker, told by a man named Howard that he saved her after finding her and that a recent nuclear attack has made the air outside unsafe to breathe. She meets another survivor, Emmett, in the bunker who claims to have witnessed the attack and came to the bunker voluntarily. As time goes on, though, she starts to notice Howard is behaving strangely and question his motives for rescuing him and Emmett.
    Note: 10 Cloverfield Lane contains violence.
    10 Cloverfield Lane is available to rent on Amazon Prime.


  • Wait Until Dark Susy, a woman who was blinded after suffering an accident, is still figuring out how to navigate the world in darkness when strange people start banging on her door. After her husband, Sam returns from a trip with a doll he says a woman at the airport gave to him, men start coming by the house when Sam is gone, claiming they know him, and trying to get her to give up the doll's location. The only problem is, she has no idea where Sam hid the doll, or why these men want it. Nearly alone and terrified, Susy, who still feels she must be "the world's champion blind lady," has to figure out how to outwit these men, and fast.
    Note: Wait Until Dark contains violence and death.
    Wait Until Dark is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

  • Rear Window Wheelchair-user Jason Kemp, bored and lonely as he is confined to his apartment, has made a habit of spying on his neighbors from the rear window of his apartment. One day, he witnesses his neighbor beating his wife and reports it to 911. When the husband is released the next day, however, Kemp hears a woman scream and then notices the wife has been replaced by another woman. He's certain that his neighbor's wife has been murdered. There's only one problem, though: no one else believes him.
    Note: Rear Window contains violence and domestic abuse.
    Rear Window is available to rent on Amazon Prime.


    Miscellaneous Recommendations
  • The Host - Young, single dad and snack bar owner Park Gang-du feels like he's going nowhere in life, but still works hard to provide for his beloved daughter, Hyun-seo, and maintain a good relationship with his father, Hee-bong, who he runs the snack bar with. One day, though, everything he knows changes. A giant monster rises from the Han River, near their snack bar, and snatches Hyun-seo with its tail before diving back into the river. Gang-du, fearing the worst, is then quarantined along with his family, and told that the creature is a host for a deadly, unknown virus. Gang-du is certain his daughter is dead, unit, he gets a call from his daughter, who explains she is still alive and trapped with the creature in the sewers. Gang-du, who feels he has fallen short his whole life, must escape and save his daughter before it's too late.
    Note: The Host contains violence and death.
    The Host is available to stream on Hulu.

  • Let the Right One In and the American version, Let Me InOscar is a 12-year-old who is often bullied at school for his weird interests in the macabre and for his weakness. At night, he goes outside to play in his complex's playground alone, where he fantasizes about getting back at his bullies by stabbing at trees with a hunting knife. One night, a girl named Eli catches him doing this, and the two strike up an odd friendship, with her trying to teach Oscar how to defend himself. Oscar starts to notice that there's a lot of odd things about Eli: she doesn't go to school, her windows are covered in newspaper, and, weirdest of all, around the time she showed up, murders started happening in the area. (Note: the Swedish original and American remake are largely the same, with a few plot details changed, and the names "Oscar" and "Eli" changed to "Owen" and "Nelly.")
    Note: Let the Right One In contains violence, death, and suicide. Let Me In contains more violence than the original.
    Let the Right One In is available to stream on Hulu.
    Let Me In is available to rent on Amazon Prime.


  • A Simple Favor - Widowed mommy vlogger Stephanie Smothers meets an enigmatic woman named Emily Nelson after their boys become school friends. While the boys play, the two moms start to trade secrets over drinks and become Just when it looks like they're going to be best friends forever, though, Stephanie gets a call from Emily asking for a simple favor: to pick her son up from school. Then, Emily goes missing. Stephanie uses her online platform to try to drum up clues for the investigation and quickly discovers that the two weren't as close as she thought.
    Note: A Simple Favor contains violence, adultery, sexual themes, and excessive drinking.
    A Simple Favor is available to stream on Hulu.


Video Games


  • Stardew Valley - You've probably heard of Stardew Valley. It's a wildly-popular farming simulator where you take an overgrown farm and give it new life, build relationships with your neighbors, and can even start your own family. So, why am I featuring it on a list of games featuring characters who struggle with depression and anxiety? Because the game opens with your grandfather giving you a gift, but he instructs you not to open it until you feel "crushed by the burden of modern life." Your character is then shown experiencing depression at their job for a company called Joja Corp, and you open the envelope to find a deed to your grandfather's farm. As you meet the other residents of your town, you begin to uncover their backstories and develop relationships with them and discover that some are dealing with their own personal struggles. Players have also reported that the game helps them deal with their anxiety and depression as well as other difficult periods in their lives.

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons - The latest addition to the Animal Crossing franchise, New Horizons is a social simulator created by Katsuya Eguchi, who got the idea from feeling isolated after his move to a new city. You play as the only human on a deserted island and are tasked with terraforming and customizing the island as well as setting up your own home, and making friends with the anthropomorphic animals that inhabit it. Similar to Stardew Valley, this game makes the list because it is implied that your character may have made the decision to start a new life out of a dislike for modern society. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been called "the perfect social distancing companion" due to your ability to escape into your island life and connect with other players at any time, and visit each other's islands.



  • Portal and Portal 2 A first-person puzzle platformer set in the same universe as the Half-Life games, Portal is a game that allows you to see through the eyes of the unfortunate Chell, a test subject for the evil Aperture Science Enrichment Center. The tests are controlled by a sadistic artificial intelligence unit named GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) who insults her at every turn while the challenges get harder and harder to beat. It might sound bleak, but the Portal games prove to be funny, smart, and solving each challenge helps you feel as though you have accomplished something big in the real world, too.

  • Night in the Woods - Night in the Woods is a story-driven adventure game where the player plays as Margaret "Mae" Borowski, a 20-year-old who has recently dropped out of college and returned to her hometown of Possum Springs, where she meets up with her old friends and figuring out her next steps when she suddenly witnesses a crime--that no one else seems to believe was committed. Many players with depression and anxiety have reported feeling a deep connection with Mae. People who have recently gone through loss, are feeling numb due to trauma, and struggle with PTSD and anger may also feel a connection with Mae's friends, Gregg, Bea, and Angus.

     * This game is currently available along with over 1,700 other games as part of the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality for a minimum donation of $5. All proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50.

    Note: This game includes frank discussions of depression and mental illness, body dysmorphia, LGBT issues, and child abuse, as well as themes of death, violence, foul language, and includes characters who use alcohol and tobacco. Approach this game with caution if you are easily triggered by these themes.

  • Celeste - Celeste is an 8-bit platformer centered around Madeline, a young woman who has reached a crisis point in her life and is suffering from anxiety. The goal of the game is to solve puzzles and navigate the Celeste Mountain and overcome her personal struggles.

     * This game is currently available along with over 1,700 other games as part of the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality for a minimum donation of $5. All proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50.

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice For those who enjoy a good fantasy adventure and are looking for relatable characters that feel real, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is an excellent choice. Senua is a Pict warrior on a quest to revive her dead lover, Dillion, from the goddess Hela. She also believes she suffers from a curse that causes her to hear voices, which she calls "Furies," who comment on her every action. (It is believed that Senua is experiencing psychosis, and this representation has been touted as realistic and compassionate.) As the game progresses, players will also find out more about Senua through her hallucinations, and come to care about her and her progress.

    Note: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice contains violence and death.

  • Neverending NightmaresThis video game takes the player through a psychological horror adventure, drawing heavily from lead designer Matt Gilgenbach's personal struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression; in an interview, he stated that he was "trying to create that feeling [of bleakness and hopelessness] in Neverending Nightmares". The player takes on the role of Thomas and navigates a nightmare world of monsters in a 2D hand-drawn style reminiscent of Edward Gorey.
    Note: Some players may find the experience of "Neverending Nightmares" therapeutic, but the game contains themes of violence, self-harm, and depression that may be disturbing to some players. This game has been touted by the charity CheckPoint as a game that represents mental health well, but it is recommended that you approach this game with caution if you are disturbed by these themes.


  • Depression Quest - Depression Quest is an interactive game where you play as someone living with depression and must manage everyday events, your relationship, and treatment. The goal of this game is to raise awareness about anxiety and depression, and how much they can impact a person's life, as well as to show people suffering from these illnesses that they are not alone and can manage their illness. Because this game is designed to raise awareness, it is available for free, but you can also choose to pay what you want to install the game, and a portion of these proceeds will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.