Mental Health in Euphoria: Realistic or Romanticized? - Hollywood Insider (2023)

Photo: 'Euphoria'

the hit drama series,'Euphoria'follows the lives of a group of teenagers as they navigate the complexities of high school alongside the darkness of teen sex, drugs and, most importantly, mental illness. The first season followed Rue and Jules, two young women struggling with drug addiction and depression.

Euphoria's Incredible Success in Teenagers and Young Adults

season 2picks up right where the last episode ended, with more sex, more parties, more broken homes and teenagers struggling to find themselves. The show was a huge success, with high ratings and a crazy fan base that loved Zendaya's portrayal of Rue and more than enjoyed fantasizing about a high school experience full of nudity and parties, as did the viewers.high euphoria.

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The show isn't without criticism, however. Producers and writers tend to prioritize style and cinematography over dialogue. The latter tends to fall short, with unrealistic conversations or interrupted by a sex sequence or musical number that overshadows the important twist or reveal. More than the discussion of writing style, much attention is paid to its strong involvement with mental illness and mental health disorders. Almost every character suffers from an illness, a twist of fate that makes their time at Euphoria High marginally more difficult, and their journey to self-discovery and understanding just as difficult.

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Brutal but candid portrayal of mental health issues at Euphoria High

Most viewers are shocked by the film's brutal portrayal of touchy subjects like sex, drug use and self-harm, but those who have long yearned for the film's realistic portrayal of mental health will appreciate its harsh truth and candor.Coping with recurrent mental illness or substance use disordersit means a lot of dark and dark moments, thoughts and experiences, a lot of hard truths that can be hard to swallow but are a testament to how difficult it is to get diagnosed. The unique perspective of "Euphoria" helps reflect this, using a platform to raise awareness of mental illness and substance use disorders, offering a hard-to-watch but honest portrayal unheard of in other television shows and films (such as13 reasons why).

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Most bittersweet is the show's ability to show that mental illness is not a death sentence, you can heal, relapse and recover, and so the cycle continues. Nothing is a picture perfect or textbook cure; instead, we look at how characters likeRue e Julesgetting in and out of tough times in their lives.

Rue Bennett: Anxiety, OCD, and LDS

Rue Bennettis the protagonist of "Euphoria" and is interpreted byZendaya. Rue struggles with substance use disorders, and her character experiences a common symptom of people with LDS—a purchase of emotional turmoil and anxiety that originally inspired her drug use as a coping mechanism. exactly theseNational Institute of Mental Healthestimates that more than 7.9 million adults worldwide are affected by SUD and a co-occurring mental illness.

The chilling but necessary portrayal of Rue's experiences in rehab, out of rehab, where she's struggling not to relapse, or even get high for the first time as a kid, is a struggle to watch, but she clearly shows the how far those with LDS will go. Get high. The narration is the perfect parallel to these scenes, with Rue explaining how she feels when the high hits, the pain stops, her brain shuts down and thoughts race - she will chase him at all costs. And just like in real life, this hunt is the tipping point that turns substance abuse into a disorder, an important difference.'Euphoria'approaches with care and authenticity.

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Rue's character is important to prove that the ideal of self-control and determination is more fragile than expected, especially for someone who has TSU or some kind of mental illness. From the outside, it's easy to assume one's superiority, to assume that self-control is easy, but "Euphoria" achieves what other somber shows fail to do - showing that the fragility of resolve is not just commonplace, but a stepping stone for transitioning from recovery for survival.Using Rue as an example, the show and its writers demonstrate how the right trigger can be detrimental to anyone in recovery.This shift from craving to relapse is not only accurate, but difficult to watch as we see Rue sacrifice everything she loves for the sense of security and survival that drugs bring.

"Euphoria" shows the many faces of mental illness and their important stories

"Euphoria" could have gone the traditional route of exploring mental illness on the TV screen, it certainly would have been easier, less stressful and filled with anticipation. But theHBO-Showdoes the opposite, and those with mental illness or those who understand the intricate process of diagnosis and recovery have given "Euphoria" the pedestal it deserves for such an accurate portrayal. Especially for a drama so focused on the "typical high school experience", the raw truth and agony the characters face is something that wasn't expected, but was greatly appreciated.

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One example, as "Euphoria" demonstrates, is that having a mental illness or LDS does not automatically make you a villain, nor a malevolent, carefree individual. Instead, mental illnesses come in all shapes and sizes, even like Rue, who is mundane, ordinary, just a girl in high school who's had a bad hand. It's so refreshing to see that and look at the screen and find someone so similar to you, so simple and ordinary, but struggling with the same struggles as you are.Rue is not a bad person, she's just a kid in high schoolwho are dealing with trauma and have turned to drugs to deal with the lack of opportunity.

Mental Health in Euphoria - Reducing Stigma Around LDS and Mental Illness

This opportunity to reduce the stigma of mental health was presented to Euphoria and HBO on a silver platter, and they delivered. They showed exactly what it means to be mentally ill and LDS, what it means to be human and imperfect but loved and important. Furthermore, it showed that those who struggle with these illnesses are not weaker or lesser than anyone else - in fact, they are bolder and stronger in their attempts to recover and become a better version of themselves. The lesson is important, especially for young, impressionable children who may be watching and finding their self-loathing and frailty morph into something else and morph into one.Self-acceptance and a courageous attempt to change something.

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If treatment and recovery are to be achieved, whether on the TV show or in everyday life, views like this are becoming increasingly important and valuable.'Euphoria'it may have its ups and downs, some bumps and discrepancies in its characters and its portrayal of mental illness, but overall it does an admirable job of telling the truth and showing that the truth doesn't have to be a punishment, but can be liberating and freeing as hell. .

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How is mental illness portrayed in euphoria? ›

Euphoria's Ties to Mental Illness

Euphoria's main character, Rue (played by Zendaya) is alluded to as suffering from bipolar disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Throughout the show, the audience hears Rue's thoughts, putting us closer to the character's lived experience.

What mental illness does Cassie have euphoria? ›

Some fans have speculated that Cassie has undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a mental health disorder characterized by intense, unstable emotions and relationships as well as insecurity and self-doubt.

How is mental illness portrayed in films? ›

Portrayals of mental illness in film are often superficial, stigmatizing, and inaccurate. Many overemphasize stereotypical negative attributes such as violence, aggression, and bizarre behavior, as well as, rely on demeaning slang terms to refer to mentally ill individuals (Kimmerle and Cress; Smith et al.).

How is mental health portrayed in film and media? ›

Hollywood has a long history of misrepresenting those with mental health conditions. These representations are usually portrayals of people with mental illness as violent and dangerous, which contribute to harmful stereotypes about mental illness.

Is Euphoria supposed to be realistic? ›

The show Euphoria captures all of these life elements. From the introduction to drugs, relationship troubles, and self identity journey. This makes the show more realistic than others, depicting the true struggles of young adults.

What is Euphoria trying to tell us? ›

Euphoria shows the viewers a raw representation of what it is like to be a teenager today for many people, and also the problems with drugs and sex that can possibly come with it. It has, however, received a lot of backlash due to the amount of explicit substance use shown in the series.

Why is Cassie so sexualized Euphoria? ›

Cassie is portrayed as insecure and seeking male validation. Her peers constantly comment on how Cassie has never been single; this season is the first time she has gone without a boyfriend for a long period. This suggests that she is sex deprived, which could be a reason why she has many nude scenes.

Is Jules in Euphoria bipolar? ›

We open with her birth, eventually entering her childhood, and subsequent diagnoses with numerous mental illnesses, including but not limited to severe anxiety and bipolar disorder. This contributes to her overdose and stay in rehab that opens the series.

Is Nate bipolar? ›

Although he initially says he was battling depression, Nathan shares with Issa that he "didn't just disappear" but was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during that time he spent at home.

What does romanticizing mental illness mean? ›

It merely means that glamorizing mental illness by making a mental health diagnosis desirable, fascinating, or attractive can lead to a host of potentially dangerous problems for the individual struggling with symptoms and for their loved ones.

How is mental illness portrayed in the media negatively? ›

Mental illnesses, also known as psychiatric disorders, are often inaccurately portrayed in the media. Films, television programs, books, magazines, and news programs often stereotype the mentally ill as being violent or unpredictable, unlike the great majority of the actual mentally ill.

How is mental illness stigmatized in the media? ›

Stigmatization of Mental Illness By the Media

Media accounts tend to focus on the individual with mental illness rather than framing mental illness as a societal issue. Consequently, media consumers are more likely to blame an individual for the illness.

Why do so many actors have mental health issues? ›

"Many professional actors find themselves out of work for long periods of time. This creates a high level of instability in their lives, adding to feelings of anxiety," she says. "They usually have no control over whether or not they get a particular role.

What effect do movies have on mental health? ›

A study conducted by researchers at University College London and Vue Cinema found that people who watched movies experienced improved mental focus and fixation towards the movie. This focused watching (according to the study) helps to improve cognition and memory.

What movies have accurately portray schizophrenia? ›

Here are five movies with characters with schizophrenia that offer accurate depictions of the condition.
The 5 Most Accurate Depictions of Schizophrenia in Hollywood
  • A Beautiful Mind. ...
  • Savage Grace. ...
  • Benny and Joon. ...
  • The Soloist. ...
  • Take Shelter.
Sep 20, 2021

What's so controversial about Euphoria? ›

From season one to two, Ferreira's screen time had been cut, an act stemming from her disagreement with Levinson's direction of her character, in which he allegedly wanted to give Kat an eating disorder.

Does Euphoria glamorize? ›

says HBO's 'Euphoria' glamorizes drug use, sex and violence. The show "chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use addiction ... and other destructive behaviors as common in today's world,” D.A.R.E. wrote.

Who is target audience for Euphoria? ›

First, let's start by clearing up the fact that the target audience is high school students, because despite Zendaya tweeting the series is designed for mature audiences, it's a series about high schoolers which will ultimately be watched by high schoolers.

What is the overall message of Euphoria? ›

The intended message in “Euphoria” aims to humanize substance use disorders, but the show glorifies drug use. Since the release of the second season in Jan. 2022, over 13.1 million people have streamed the popular show “Euphoria” on HBO Max alone.

What societal issues are in Euphoria? ›

It highlights many of the struggles teenagers and young adults face today, touching on issues such as sexuality, gender identity, emotional and physical abuse, drug addiction and social media pressures.

What lesson does Euphoria teach? ›

The most important takeaway any parent of a teen can get from 'Euphoria' is that addiction is a real, complex, deeply ingrained behavioral health disorder. It is not simply choosing to get drunk or high all the time and it definitely isn't something that will just go away.

Does Euphoria sexualize high schoolers? ›

While all the actors who have sex scenes are at least 23 years old, the fact remains that Euphoria has a serious issue with oversexualizing teenagers, even if said teenagers are played by adults. The trend of sexualizing teens in media isn't anything new.

What was Cassie addicted to? ›

Some have speculated online that Cassie is a character foil for Rue, both of them addicts, with the show telling the story of their desperate needs. For Rue, the object of her addiction is opiates, for Cassie, it's love.

What is the psychological analysis of Cassie Howard? ›

Cassie Howard is an ESFJ personality type. She is popular and enjoys spending time with friends and family. Kind and warm, she is confident in social situations and she instinctively knows what should or shouldn't be said. In addition, she is good at picking up on people's emotional states.

Is Jules from Euphoria hypersexual? ›

Jules realizes how she has internalized hypersexuality and hyperfemininity, performing them to the point where much of her self-worth was derived from male validation for so much of her young life.

What mental illness does Jules Vaughn have? ›

Since Jules was about seven or eight, she dealt with bouts of depression, anxiety, and self-harm largely stemming from gender dysphoria, which eventually led to her mother taking her to a psychiatric hospital against her will at age 11.

What characters have BPD? ›

Here's what they had to say:
  • Clementine from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” ...
  • The Hulk from “The Avengers” ...
  • Rebecca from “Crazy-Ex Girlfriend” ...
  • Anakin Skywalker from “Star Wars” ...
  • Jessica Jones from “Jessica Jones” ...
  • BoJack from “BoJack Horseman” ...
  • Harley Quinn from “Suicide Squad”
Mar 7, 2018

Does Rue have BPD in Euphoria? ›

Rue suffers from ADHD, bipolar, general anxiety, depression, and BPD – and rather than romanticising her trauma, creator Sam Levinson shows Rue's days stretching out ahead of her: a monotonous Sisyphean struggle with her own psyche.

Is Cassie a BPD? ›

Sweeney's Cassie is never displaying the same level of emotion as those around her unless it's rage — uncontrollable outbursts of anger being another criteria of BPD. In every scene, she's either displaying a significantly higher level of emotion than others or she is fully shut down, dissociating.

Is Maddy toxic Euphoria? ›

Maddy contributes to the toxicity of the relationship as well by emotionally manipulating Nate throughout the first season. She confidently wields emotional blackmail by threatening to publicly release private tapes.

Why is mental health romanticised? ›

The Prevalence of Mental Health Romanticisation

Not only does it devalue the struggle of mental illnesses and prevent those who may be suffering from seeking help, but it also encourages teenagers to mimic dangerous symptoms in order to be perceived as attractive or socially prestigious.

Why are mental illnesses romanticised? ›

They describe mental illness as 'tragically beautiful'. It implies that pain is pretty and completely disregards the struggles of people who actually suffer from any such illness.

Why we need to stop romanticizing mental illness? ›

As a society we need to stop romanticizing mental illness because this will feed into the stigma. It's covering up the fact that there is a problem and by doing so we are encouraging it. By allowing this we validate self-destructive behaviors. We teach people that tragedy is beautiful.

How is mental health portrayed positively in the media? ›

Mental Health Today: A More Positive Portrayal in the Media

These TV shows and films do this by using humor, real-life situations like conflicts, and traumatic situations to shine the light on the commonality of mental health issues and disorders.

Does social media affect mental health positively or negatively? ›

However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media may promote negative experiences such as: Inadequacy about your life or appearance.

Does social media negatively impact mental health? ›

Research studies note the connection between use of social media and its undesirable outcomes that increase incidence of anxiety, stress, depression, body image concerns, and loneliness in teens and young adults (APA, 2022).

How is mental health portrayed in pop culture? ›

A lot of TV shows and films often depict people with mental health problems as 'psychopaths' or violent, or can be quite sensationalist in their approach, which means patients often associate some mental health disorders, such as psychosis, with being violent, hence not accessing treatment.

How can perceptions of mental health be influenced by social media? ›

Unregulated social media leads to a constant fear of missing out, which many refer to as FOMO. People may feel as though others are having more fun than them, which can affect self-esteem and cause mental health issues.

How does culture influence mental health? ›

Culture significantly impacts various aspects of mental health including the perception of health and illness, treatment-seeking behaviour and coping styles. As such, simplified mainstreaming of mental health approaches may not cater to the needs of a culturally diverse population from different communities.

What issues are shown on euphoria? ›

It's a raw and honest portrait of addiction, anxiety, and the difficulties of navigating life today. There are scenes that are graphic, hard to watch, and can be triggering" (according to Today) – she certainly wasn't exaggerating. Euphoria makes most teen dramas that came before it seem meek and mild in comparison.

How is euphoria traumatizing? ›

“Euphoria” mirrors this action by dumping upsetting situations on its audience with the intent to draw them in. This show is reliant on the fact that you form this trauma bond, otherwise, you might start to notice the lack of substantive plot in favor of repeated scenes of violence and nudity.

What happens in the brain during euphoria? ›

Pleasure or euphoria—the high from drugs—is still poorly understood, but probably involves surges of chemical signaling compounds including the body's natural opioids (endorphins) and other neurotransmitters in parts of the basal ganglia (the reward circuit).

Is euphoria part of BPD? ›

Someone with BPD may go to great lengths to feel something, as well as becoming increasingly withdrawn and avoidant during an episode. Paranoid thoughts of everyone being out to get them and hating them are also common during these times. Episodes can also be extreme highs, bursts of euphoria and positive emotions.

What message is Euphoria trying to send? ›

The intended message in “Euphoria” aims to humanize substance use disorders, but the show glorifies drug use. Since the release of the second season in Jan. 2022, over 13.1 million people have streamed the popular show “Euphoria” on HBO Max alone.

Why is Euphoria so controversial? ›

"Euphoria" has a reputation for its shocking, graphic elements. From drugs and violence to full-frontal nudity and sex scenes, the HBO series is so chock-full of raw, unsettling scenes that viewers lament it can, at times, be hard to watch. Yet they keep coming back every week.

Why Euphoria is a toxic show? ›

Rue destroys most of her relationships because she has to hide her addictions and lashes out while under the influence. By adding these details, the writers really convey the feeling of addiction completely tearing the veil that a euphoric high creates to reveal a much more destructive and traumatic underside to drugs.

Why Euphoria is so cringe? ›

Most episodes include some mix of bad sex, graphic violence, gratuitous nudity, copious consumption of drugs and alcohol and unsparing depictions of addiction. For the viewer, feeling stressed, anxious or restless while watching comes with the territory.

Why is Euphoria toxic? ›

The show has attracted some attention over the controversial topics it presents, including drug abuse and sexual and physical abuse. While some accuse “Euphoria” of glamorizing these types of circumstances, others praise it for bringing such topics to public attention and discourse.

What chemical is Euphoria in the brain? ›

Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that is associated with the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. High amounts of dopamine lead to feelings of pleasure or euphoria.

Which hormone is responsible for Euphoria? ›

Dopamine: Often called the "happy hormone," dopamine results in feelings of well-being. A primary driver of the brain's reward system, it spikes when we experience something pleasurable. Praised on the job?

Who has a brain disorder in Euphoria? ›

In the scene, Kat tells her doting boyfriend Ethan (Austin Abrams) that she has a terminal brain disorder. When he questions this out-of-left-field claim, she calls him an incel and argues that his disbelief is oppressive “gaslighting”.

Is Rue bipolar? ›

Levinson's own struggles inform his depiction of Rue, who also has bipolar disorder, as is addressed in the penultimate episode of the season.

Is euphoria seen in bipolar disorder? ›

Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a mood disorder that is characterized by periods of extreme swings of euphoria (positivity and happiness) to depression (sadness and negativity).

Does Cassie have BPD? ›

Sweeney's Cassie is never displaying the same level of emotion as those around her unless it's rage — uncontrollable outbursts of anger being another criteria of BPD. In every scene, she's either displaying a significantly higher level of emotion than others or she is fully shut down, dissociating.


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