Mental Illness

25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown 

Ranker Film
494 votes 112 voters 3.8k views 26 items

Everyone from con artists to business executives to former musicians have suffered an onscreen nervous breakdown. The top mental break movies feature characters dealing with anger issues, personal baggage, and depression. This is a list of mental hospital movies featuring everything from Silver Linings Playbook to Welcome to Me to A Streetcar Named Desire.

What movies will you find on this list of the best flicks about life after a nervous breakdown? One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an enduring classic of the genre. Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) enters a mental institution to avoid a tough jail sentence, but his sanity is pushed to the limits by the domineering staff. American Beauty is another great movie that features several characters at different stages of mental breakdowns. The newer hit Greenberg follows a middle-aged man re-entering the world after spending some time in a mental hospital. Other good films featured on this roundup of the top nervous breakdown movies include Secretary, Black Swan, and Stay.

Do you have a favorite mental illness movie? Give the best films a thumbs up and please add any good movies that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Girl, Interrupted is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg
Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American drama film, and an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir of the same name. The film chronicles Kaysen's 18-month stay at a mental institution. Directed ...more

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2
One Flew Over the Cuckoo... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 drama film written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman and directed by Miloš Forman.

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#8 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #27 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

3
A Beautiful Mind is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard
A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva ...more

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#25 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #1,020 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

4
Black Swan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder
Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production ...more

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5
Silver Linings Playbook ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
Silver Linings Playbook is a 2012 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by David O. Russell, adapted from the novel The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. The film ...more

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6
Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo
Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel of the same name. Production started in March 2008. ...more

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7
It's Kind of a Funny Sto... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Emma Roberts, Lauren Graham, Zach Galifianakis
It's Kind of a Funny Story is a 2010 drama film directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

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8
Benny & Joon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Johnny Depp, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy
Benny & Joon is a 1993 romantic comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer about how two eccentric individuals, Sam and Juniper "Joon", find each other and fall in love. Aidan ...more

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9
American Beauty is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Mena Suvari
American Beauty is a 1999 American drama film directed by Sam Mendes. An advertising executive (Kevin Spacey) has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best ...more

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10
Wristcutters: A Love Sto... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Wristcutters: A Love Story
Tom Waits, Leslie Bibb, Will Arnett
Wristcutters: A Love Story is a 2006 American black comedy romance road movie written and directed by Goran Dukić, starring Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, and Shannyn Sossamon. Its premise is set ...more
11
Secretary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Lesley Ann Warren
Secretary is a 2002 romance film directed by Steven Shainberg and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway and James Spader as E. Edward Grey. The film is based on a short story from Bad ...more

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12
A Streetcar Named Desire... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. It is the story of a southern lady, Blanche Dubois, ...more

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13
Love Liza is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Kathy Bates, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stephen Tobolowsky
Love Liza is a 2002 tragicomedy film directed by Todd Louiso and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler, Wayne Duvall, Sarah Koskoff and Stephen Tobolowsky.

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#116 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #37 of 37 Great Movies About the Death of a Spouse

14
Rachel Getting Married ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, Sebastian Stan
Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 drama film directed by Jonathan Demme, and starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin and Debra Winger. The film was released in the U.S. to select ...more
15
The Jacket is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Keira Knightley, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Jason Leigh
The Jacket is a 2005 psychological thriller film directed by John Maybury that is partly based on the Jack London novel The Star Rover. Massy Tadjedin wrote the screenplay based on a story by ...more

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16
Cake is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
17
The Ward is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Amber Heard, Lyndsy Fonseca, Danielle Panabaker
The Ward is a 2010 American psychological horror film directed by John Carpenter. It stars Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker and Jared Harris. The story revolves around a young ...more

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18
Bottle Rocket is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Owen Wilson, James Caan, Leslie Mann
Bottle Rocket is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Wes Anderson. It was co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson. In addition to being Wes Anderson's directorial debut, Bottle Rocket was the ...more

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19
Greenberg is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dave Franco
Greenberg is a 2010 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The film stars Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Greenberg was produced by ...more
20
Permanent Record is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Keanu Reeves, Lou Reed, Kathy Baker
Permanent Record is a 1988 American drama film starring Pamela Gidley, Michelle Meyrink, Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Rubin, and Alan Boyce. It was filmed on location in Portland, Oregon and Yaquina ...more
21
Mad Love is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Drew Barrymore, Liev Schreiber, Chris O'Donnell
Mad Love is a 1995 teen romantic drama film directed by Antonia Bird and starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell. The screenplay was written by Paula Milne. The original music score is ...more

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22
Don't Say a Word is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Famke Janssen, Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy
Don't Say a Word is a 2001 psychological thriller film starring Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy and Sean Bean based on the novel of the same title by Andrew Klavan. Don't Say a Word was ...more

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23
Stay is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling
Stay is a 2005 American psychological thriller film directed by Marc Forster. A psychiatrist (Ewan McGregor) tries prevent one of his patients (Ryan Gosling) from committing suicide while trying ...more
24
The House of Yes is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Tori Spelling, Rachael Leigh Cook, Parker Posey
The House of Yes is a 1997 American film starring Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton, Geneviève Bujold, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Tori Spelling. The movie is based on the play of the same name, ...more

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25
Welcome to Me is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list 25+ Great Movies About Life After a Nervous Breakdown
Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini
Welcome to Me is a 2014 American comedy film directed by Shira Piven and written by Eliot Laurence. The film stars Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini and Wes Bentley. The film is ...more