Sympathy For The Daredevil: Matt Murdock And His War With Depression

Superheroes regularly face overwhelming odds to save the world. Sometimes, the greatest battles are fought within, and Daredevil is no stranger to dealing with personal issues. Matt Murdock has one of the most turbulent lives of any hero. From his earliest days, tragedy dogged The Man Without Fear. Over the years, Daredevil has faced a variety of enemies, but his greatest is surely depression.

Matt’s struggle with depression is a major part of the character. His mental health battles have featured in a lot of iconic stories, like Born Again and The Elektra Saga. Given everything he’s experienced, it’s little wonder Daredevil has suffered with depression. His journey makes him relatable, so I’m taking a look at how Matt has learned to handle his depression.

An ongoing struggle

Throughout his life, Matt has faced many tragedies. This includes having his girlfriend Elektra murdered by Bullseye and having his professional reputation destroyed by Kingpin. Matt has also needed to deal with the death of his other love, Karen Page, and the mental breakdown of his wife, Milla Donovan. Each bout of happiness has been followed by tremendous loss. This is the nature of depression. In Matt’s case, he’s described his depression as a ‘demon,’ which makes sense, given his Catholic background.

Matt’s demon is on fully display in Frank Miller’s Born Again. In the story, Kingpin finds out about his secret identity and he destroys Daredevil’s life piece by piece. Matt loses his job, his home and his sanity. His depression is all-consuming. Yet, he manages to take his life back and defeat Kingpin, proving that he can rise above his mental health struggles.

Depression in the family

As a mental health illness, depression can be passed down through generations. Matt’s mother, Maggie, suffered from postpartum depression (PPD). This illness is characterised by extreme sadness, anxiety, crying and self-doubt in becoming a parent. In the past, PPD has been misunderstood as ‘baby blues,’ not being taken seriously.

After giving birth, Maggie constantly worried about her son’s safety. Her thoughts developed into paranoia and self-loathing, leading her to believe she was a bad mum. Maggie’s PPD was so severe that she attempted to kill Matt. Luckily, she came to her senses and chose to run away. Through counselling and treatment, Maggie recovered. She devoted herself to becoming a nun.

Writer Mark Waid is responsible for introducing PPD into Matt’s family tree and this was informed by his own experiences with depression. To provide an accurate representation of the illness, Waid spoke to his mother about her own PPD.

The fact that depression runs in Matt’s family may have contributed to his mental state.

Raising awareness for men’s mental health

Having gone through depression, I connect to Daredevil’s experiences. Depression is a terrible illness that makes it hard to get through a single day. It’s left me feeling frozen in place and unable to get out of my own head.

Characters like Daredevil are invaluable when it comes to raising awareness for mental health issues in men. Daredevil is down to earth because of his personal problems. Even with everything going on his head, he continues to protect Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a reminder that people with depression can accomplish amazing things.

If you suffer from depression then please remember that you’re not alone. Comics are a wonderful medium for expressing themes that need to be talked about and I encourage you to pick up a Daredevil story.

Depression isn’t the only issue that comic characters experience. You can read my article on 6 mental health disorders that superheroes struggle with to find out more.


Author: thecomicvault

A place for superheroes, positive mental health and pop culture references. Unlock your inner geek and step inside.

13 thoughts on “Sympathy For The Daredevil: Matt Murdock And His War With Depression”

  1. Reblogged this on Getting High on Recovery and commented:
    I grew up reading about Daredevil. There was something cool about a blind man with ninja warrior skills, who is out to help the little guy, gets beat up again and again, only to rise one more time. Daredevil is a symbol for what it means to not allow your fear and your limitations to “become” you.
    One more reason that I love Daredevil, he is a character that dealt with depression. He is a haunted man. He lives with fear, with shadows on the inside that make him more afraid than the shadows on the outside. His shadows, his depression is something I can relate to. Daredevil can remind us that we may face enemies, and we may fall. But we can rise again. And again. And again.

    I hope that you enjoy this reblog from!


  2. brilliant last page-capture – I had to scroll down to read the last thought-caption: the same delight of realising that the knot of this-is-how-it-is-and-I-can’t-change-it doesn’t have to be; I love the metaphor of Matt standing on the edge of the roof – fearlessly – immobilised with anxiety and powerlessness and then … he jumps off the roof – ONLY the character of Matt Murdock could make this work and make it NOT look like suicide, but the metaphor of stepping-aside-the-knot-that-tied-you could work for anyone if they could find/locate that part of their nature which they had thought tied up and nullified, but isn’t; I also love that the colours of Matt’s tie are the colours which show his anxieties, and that the tie DOESN’T disappear, obviously, when he jumps – you take your knots with you, you wear them as ornaments …


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