Press Releases

New HBO Documentary Unlocks The Mystery Behind Major Depression

"60 Minutes" Correspondent Mike Wallace And Others Tell Compelling Stories Of Surviving Depression

Dec 10 1997

New York, NY - Many of the 18 million Americans who live with severe depression suffer in silence because of the stigma attached to mental illness. That silence is broken in "Dead Blue: Surviving Depression," a new HBO documentary that chronicles the lives of three people suffering from depression and their families. The film examines how "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace, author William Styron, and clinical psychologist Martha Manning have learned to live with the illness.

This documentary is part of the "America Undercover" series and will debut on HBO on Tuesday, January 6, and air several times throughout the month. The film's premiere tonight in New York City was co-hosted by HBO and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the nation's leading advocacy organization for people with severe mental illnesses, such as major depression.

"'Dead Blue: Surviving Depression' is a useful tool for educating millions of people about severe mental illness, particularly major depression," said Laurie Flynn, executive director of NAMI. "People seeing this film will be left with one over-arching message -- treatment works."

The 55-minute film gives the viewer a greater understanding of the pain of depression and the hope offered by new and effective treatments. Wallace, Styron and Manning paint a human portrait of the challenges of living with depression through candid interviews, photos, home movies and archival footage from their lives.

"HBO produced this documentary to reach out to anyone suffering in silence," said Sheila Nevins, HBO producer. "If one person learns that severe depression is treatable by seeing this documentary, then the film has served its purpose."

Thanks to medical advances, major depression can now be easily diagnosed. Depression is defined as a mental disorder marked by feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. Effective treatment, coupled with the support of friends and family members, can speed recovery.

"The testimony heard throughout the documentary illustrates the path to survival for people with depression," said Flynn. "All too often, people don't seek help and that's why suicide claims the lives of nearly 18,000 people with depression every year in this country."

NAMI works on the national, state and local level through 168,000 members and more than 1,100 affiliates to provide education about severe mental illnesses and to support increased funding for research and quality services.