5 Depression TED Talks That Entertain, Educate, and Empower

5 Depression TED Talks That Entertain, Educate, and Empower


We’re living in a media-rich age where meaningful information can be shared in diverse formats, instantly connecting us with the stories we need to hear most, moment to moment. At OC87 Recovery Diaries, we’re dedicated to curating a platform where recovery stories can empower people living with mental health challenges, connect folks to mental health resources, and #buststigma together around mental illness.

The following depression TED Talks have the same agenda — to inspire, build bridges, and bring light to the shadow that enshrouds mental health. The five presenters featured here include comedians, scientists, and writers. If there’s a TED Talk on depression you’ve enjoyed that’s not included on this list, please leave a comment so we can watch along.

If you’re interested in these topics, here’s more content for you:

Depression-related stories from OC87 Recovery Diaries

All video posts from our website


Depression, the secret we share

Presenter: Andrew Solomon
Depression TED Talk

Andrew Solomon, a writer on politics, culture, and psychology, talks about his own journey with depression and anxiety. His story includes medication, therapy, philosophical questions, frustrations, and gratitude. He talks about the differences between grief, sadness, and depression — experiences that are often misconstrued in pop culture references to mental illness. Watch or listen to this TED Talk on depression and you’ll be drawn in, and perhaps you’ll discover for yourself what so many others have found after hearing Andrew Solomon’s recovery journey; that it’s time for you to tell your own mental health story.

If you like this TED Talk, check out these OC87 Recovery Diaries stories on depression:

When We Were Small: An Intense Struggle With Depression

[Video] Mike Veny – An Interview With My Depression


Confessions of a Depressed Comic

Presenter: Kevin Breel
Depression TED Talk

Kevin Breel starts off his talk introducing the idea that we all have two identities: what the world sees, and what’s actually going on. As clear as can be, Kevin Breel explains that he is a person who struggles with depression. Like Andrew Solomon above, Kevin Breel emphasizes that depression and sadness are not the same thing. He explains that there’s a popular misconception that depression is feeling sad when something in your life goes wrong, like experiencing a breakup, loss of a pet, or not getting the job you want. But that’s not depression, he says, “Real depression is not being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is feeling sad when everything in your life is going right.” Watch on for a few laughs, much vulnerability, and the specifics of Kevin Breel’s coping mechanisms with a depression diagnosis.

Learn more about Kevin Breel in this OC87 Recovery Diaries feature:

Seasons of Depression & Kevin Breel


8 Tips for Telling Your Own Story

Do you have a story to tell? Chances are, you do. This free guide will walk you through our Editor in Chief's top suggestions.


How Electroshock Therapy Changed Me

Presenter: Sherwin Nuland
Depression TED Talk

Sherwin Nuland explains the development of electroshock therapy through the ages. The practice was first tested on people with schizophrenia, with limited results, and then found a spectrum of success with people diagnosed with depression. Sherwin talks about why this practice went out of practice for a period of time, and why this treatment is finding a resurgence over the last decade in western medicine for the treatment of depression — including his own experience with electroshock therapy. Through this often controversial topic, Sherwin Nuland manages to draw laughter from the audience as he shares his moving personal story in the context of history and science.

Stories that include electroshock and electroconvulsive therapy from OC87 Recovery Diaries:

Of Two Minds

Climbing Out of the Rabbit Hole with ECT, DBT & Art Therapy


What’s So Funny About Mental Illness?

Presenter: Ruby Wax
Depression TED Talk

Ruby Wax totally busts mental health stigma in this TED Talk on depression as she recounts her last breakdown, thanks the producers of her depression medication, and shares about the shame of mental illness. She throws on a costume, shares her own funny stick figure drawings about brain chemistry, and gets real about the science, evolution, and pain of clinical depression. Ruby Wax’s willingness to talk about the difficult moments of her life with depression draws us in, her humor keeps us watching, and her passionate message about the need to normalize mental health issues speaks to our mission here at OC87 Recovery Diaries.

More mixing of performance and mental illness on OC87 Recovery Diaries:

[Podcast Episode] Mental Health in Comedy

Everything Will Kill You: Anxiety, Fear & Shame Onstage


Mental health for all by involving all

Presenter: Vikram Patel
Depression TED Talk

Vikram Patel explains that almost 450 million people are affected by the suffering, shame, and discrimination of mental illness worldwide. This TED Talk gives a global overview of mental illness, shares staggering statistics, and highlights the diversity of the burdens of the disease of depression around the world. Vikram Patel discuses his suggestions for shifting how we treat depression in developing parts of the world. His research-backed approach focuses on training community members and everyday people to perform basic mental health interventions in countries where there are currently enormous shortages of mental illness practitioners. This TED Talk boldly takes on the big picture of depression and presents concrete strategies for change.

Global mental health stories on OC87 Recovery Diaries:

A Mental Health Advocate Sends Love and Light to the World

Interview with Delaney Ruston on her film Hidden Pictures about mental health around the world

EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

Leah is the designer and website manager for OC87 Recovery Diaries. She has worked on documentary films that have screened on Ovation TV, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and on Netflix. She is a graduate of Smith College with a dual degree in the Study of Women and Gender and Studio Art with a concentration in Electronic Media. Leah is also trained as a Reiki master. You can see her work and sign up for her mailing list at withleahmoon.com.