The books contain much more detail than the movies, and in the movies we can interpret and infer a lot from body language and the way lines are spoken, and putting ourselves in the shoes of a character who suffers from lycanthropy (I read a lot from his and Tonks' scenes in the later movies) - I'm wondering whether, in the wealth of the information presented in the books, Lupin is ever alluded to be depressed/suffering from depression (even if it isn't explicitly stated)

  • 2
    Whoever voted to close this as off-topic. It is about a character in a work of fantasy. It is most definitely on-topic.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 0:16
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    @Edlothiad I can't VTC on this site, but whoever did probably did so because depression, as a mental illness, can't be diagnosed except by a licensed expert in person. They probably viewed this as an armchair speculation question. In fact, for all the words used in the answers below, the answer is simply "No, it's not ever alluded to in the books that Lupin has depression". At least Skooba's answer is entirely irrelevant, as it only uses Pottermore quotes.
    – TylerH
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 5:37
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    @TylerH that would make it Primarily Opinion Based, and not Off-Topic. Also why does Pottermore quotes == irrelevance?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 8:19
  • Do note that many such supernatural illnesses have been used in the past to "explain" what are now considered mental (or even physical) disorders. So alluding to that might be what's the intent, if there's any link at all. Though I have heard of no myths where werewolves have symptoms similar to depression in particular; in most, they are perfectly normal humans when they're not wolves (perhaps some form of DID or "berserk mode"?).
    – Luaan
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 11:50
  • @Edlothiad from the question "I'm wondering whether, in the wealth of the information presented in the books, Lupin is ever alluded to be depressed" (emphasis mine). OP stated a "from the books" scope. Pottermore falls outside that scope. Granted, OP probably doesn't really mean it, but it's up to OP to clarify.
    – TylerH
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 13:49

3 Answers 3


According to the ICD-10, Lupin can be clinically diagnosed with severe depressive disorder

I'm going to approach this the way that a mental health professional would if Lupin were to walk into a psychotherapist's office and describe his situation. The therapist would match what he says with the criteria for what the ICD-10* classifies as "depressive disorder", which is what most people mean when they colloquially refer to "depression".

Of course, since Lupin can't directly describe his situation, we'll have to make due with quotes we have to work with, either from the Harry Potter books or Pottermore. I'm going to be focusing on Lupin as an adult, rather than as a child.

Below is a point by point examination of the criteria of depressive disorder according to this academic paper.

* ICD-10 is the medical classification system used in the United Kingdom, so it seems fitting to apply it to Harry Potter. The DSM-5 is an equivalent system specifically for mental health diagnoses that is more common in the United States.

Typical symptoms

Depressed mood

Remus, so often melancholy and lonely […]

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

Oxford English Dictionaries defines melancholy as "A feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause". I think that this counts as a "depressed mood".

Loss of interest and enjoyment

Remus now lived a hand-to-mouth existence, taking jobs that were far below his level of ability, always knowing that he would have to leave them before his pattern of growing sick once a month at the full moon was noticed by his workmates.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

Lupin doesn't even try to make new friends after James and Lily's death and chooses to pursue jobs far below his ability and in ways that he enjoys (as we see in Prisoner of Azkaban, he has considerable knowledge and interest in Defense Against the Dark Arts).

Reduced energy leading to increased fatigability and diminished activity

This had only one occupant, a man sitting fast asleep next to the window. Harry, Ron, and Hermione checked on the threshold. The Hogwarts Express was usually reserved for students and they had never seen an adult there before, except for the witch who pushed the food cart. The stranger was wearing an extremely shabby set of wizard's robes that had been darned in several places. He looked ill and exhausted. Though quite young, his light brown hair was flecked with gray.

– Chapter 5 "The Dementor", Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Even in his first appearance, Lupin is asleep for almost the whole trip to Hogwarts and looks "ill and exhausted".

Other common symptoms

(1) Reduced concentration and attention

I couldn't find any evidence for this symptom, but a diagnosis can still be reached if enough other symptoms are present.

(2) Reduced self-esteem and self-confidence

[Lupin's] friends meant even more to him than to other people, because he had long since accepted the fact that most people would treat him as untouchable, and that there could be no possibility of marrying and having children.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

While perhaps an understandable reaction given the extreme prejudice against werewolves, Lupin places his self-worth in his friends.

At this, Tonks became suddenly angry. ‘You’d know perfectly well who I’ve fallen for, if you weren’t too busy feeling sorry for yourself to notice.’

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

At first, Lupin assumes that Tonks has fallen for another auror in the Order. Tonks observes that Lupin is perpetually feeling sorry for himself, and that because of his low self-esteem, it's preventing him from seeing that she cares for him.

(3) Ideas of guilt and unworthiness

It had never occurred to Remus that Tonks could return his feelings because he had become so used to considering himself unclean and unworthy.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

As this passage clearly says, Lupin has spent an extraordinary amount of time considering himself "unworthy".

"It will be like me, I am convinced of it—how can I forgive myself when I knowingly risked passing on my own condition to an innocent child?"

– Chapter 11 "The Bribe", Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Full of remorse and self-recrimination, Remus fled, leaving the pregnant Tonks, seeking out Harry and offering to accompany him on whatever death-defying adventure awaited.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

Lupin has an extreme amount of guilt over the fact that he will have a child that will likely be a werewolf. This drives his initial abandonment of Tonks and leads him to have a "death-defying adventure" with Harry.

(4) Bleak and pessimistic views of the future

He had never fallen in love before. If it had happened in peacetime, Remus would have simply taken himself off to a new place and a new job, so that he did not have to endure the pain of watching Tonks fall in love with a handsome, young wizard in the Auror office, which was what he expected to happen.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

When Lupin started falling for Tonks, he immediately expected that she would eventually fall for someone else and break his heart, and would have taken the drastic step to move had they not been brought together out of their shared duty for the Order.

[Lupin] continued to fear that the stigma attached to him would infect his wife and wished for no fanfare around their union; he swung constantly between elation that he was married to the woman of his dreams and terror of what he might have brought upon them both.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

Despite the bliss of being married, Lupin was incredibly concerned about how his choice to marry Tonks would affect her future.

"My child will be like me, I am convinced of it—how can I forgive myself when I knowingly risked passing on my own condition to an innocent child? And if, by some miracle, it is not like me, then it will be better off, a hundred times so, without a father of whom it must always be ashamed!"

– Chapter 11 "The Bribe", Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Lupin sees only two possible outcomes for his son's life: one in which he is a hated werewolf and one where he is better off not living with the stigma that his father is a werewolf. He doesn't consider there to be a future for his son that turns out well (including the actual outcome, which was that his son is not a werewolf and he's perfectly happy to be associated with his father).

(5) Ideas or acts of self-harm or suicide

However, [Lupin] avoided any further excursions with [Tonks], barely talked to her, and started volunteering for the most dangerous missions.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

It's clear that Lupin was volunteering for the most dangerous missions not to fight Voldemort, but to avoid spending time with Tonks. While not a direct way of self-harm, it does seem that he is intentionally putting himself in harm's way to avoid confronting his feelings, and this could arguably be considered an act of self-harm.

The loss of the last of his school friends during this battle did nothing to soften Remus’s increasingly self-destructive attitude. Tonks could only watch in despair as he volunteered to spy for the Order, leaving to live among fellow werewolves to try to persuade them to Dumbledore’s side. In doing this, he was exposing himself to the possible reprisals of the werewolf who had changed his life forever, Fenrir Greyback.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

After the death of Sirius, Remus engages in a "self-destructive attitude" by volunteering for an extremely dangerous mission and possible reprisal from Greyback.

Lupin actually seized handfuls of his own hair; he looked quite deranged.

– Chapter 11 "The Bribe", Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

While a pretty minor act of self-harm, pulling out handfuls of hair isn't a healthy thing to do.

Remus responded [to Harry] with uncharacteristic violence and stormed out of the house, taking refuge in a corner of the Leaky Cauldron, where he sat drinking and fuming.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom reports that "self-harm and suicide are much more common in people with alcohol problems", which might manifest as "you drink to relieve anxiety or depression." That said, this is the only incident we see of him drinking. The only other time we see Lupin drinking a beverage is when he gives Harry and company butterbeer ("the bribe" the chapter is named after), which is slightly alcoholic. However, it seems to be a very common beverage in the Wizarding World, so it's unlikely that this alone is a sign of alcoholism.

(6) Disturbed sleep

Close-up, Harry saw that [Hermione] looked almost as tired as Lupin.

– Chapter 12 "The Patronus", Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This was a situation where Harry was with Hermione and Lupin was not around and had not been seen lately. The fact that Harry notes that she is "as tired as Lupin" suggests that he is persistently tired and that the incident on the Hogwarts Express was not an isolated incident. While it's not clear whether or not Lupin is tired due to insomnia or disturbed sleep, he's clearly not sleeping well

(7) Diminished appetite

He was as shabby as ever but looked healthier than he had on the train, as though he had had a few square meals.

– Chapter 7 "The Boggart in the Wardrobe", Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

It looks like Lupin had not been eating regularly. While it's not certain that this is due to a diminished appetite, it's a likely possibility.

Duration of symptoms

The ICD-10 considers a depressive episode a prolonged event and not just a momentary thing.

A duration of at least 2 weeks is usually required for diagnosis for depressive episodes of all three grades of severity.

As we see, Lupin has experienced symptoms of depression at multiple points in his life for months or even years on end.


The ICD-10 has a means of rating the severity of a depressive episode:

For severe depressive episode, all three of the typical symptoms noted for mild and moderate depressive episodes are present and at least four other symptoms of severe intensity are required.

As shown above, Lupin has exhibited all three of the typical symptoms of depression at various points in his life and at least four of the other symptoms. Therefore, a therapist would diagnose him as having severe depressive disorder.

Addendum: Other possible symptoms of depression not covered by ICD-10 criteria

There is continuing research into depression and its effects.

Some studies (e.g. 2015 study in Sweden, 2009 study in Ethiopia) have found a correlation between depression and violent crime. Assuming that depression is also linked with non-criminal violence (more research is needed in this area), we can see this in Lupin as well even aside from his violence as a werewolf.

Lupin kicked aside the chair he had overturned. […]

Lupin drew his wand so fast that Harry had barely reached for his own; there was a loud bang and he felt himself flying backward as if punched; as he slammed into the kitchen wall and slid to the floor, he glimpsed the tail of Lupin’s cloak disappearing around the door.

– Chapter 11 "The Bribe", Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

[Harry] told his ex-teacher that he was acting selfishly and irresponsibly. Remus responded with uncharacteristic violence and stormed out of the house, taking refuge in a corner of the Leaky Cauldron, where he sat drinking and fuming.

Remus Lupin, Pottermore

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    By Azura! This is legitimately my reaction at the sheer length of this answer. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:01
  • @GhotiandChips I'll take that as a compliment! ;-) Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:34
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    I've experienced clinical depression, and been to (helpful) group therapy which taught me a lot more about it and how it manifests in people. All of this stuff you're quoting resonates very strongly as a fair diagnosis. Thanks for handling this well. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    Related: howibeatdepression.com/how-jk-rowling-beat-depression Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 20:20
  • 3
    Exemplary answer! (I only rarely upvote HNQ answers, but this one absolutely deserves it). Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 14:17


Remus was bitten at age 5 and due to the views of magical community on werewolves, the Lupin family was constantly moving and Remus had no real chance to make friends.

Remus was not allowed to play with other children, in case he let slip the truth of his condition. In consequence, and in spite of his loving parents, he was a very lonely boy.

It wasn't until his arrival at Hogwarts that Remus found himself happy.

Due to the widespread prejudice around werewolves, Dumbledore agreed that for Remus’s own sake his condition should not be broadcast. Once a month, he would leave for a secure and comfortable house in the village of Hogsmeade, guarded by many spells and reached only by an underground passage from the Hogwarts grounds, where he could transform in peace.

Remus’s excitement was beyond anything he had known before. It was the dream of his life to meet other children and have, for the first time, friends and playmates.

But shortly his time at Hogwarts tragic events struck.

The death of James Potter, along with his wife Lily, at the hands of Lord Voldemort, was one of the most traumatic events of Remus’s already troubled life. His friends meant even more to him than to other people, because he had long since accepted the fact that most people would treat him as untouchable, and that there could be no possibility of marrying and having children. Even worse, within twenty- four hours he had also lost his two other best friends. Remus was in the north of the country on Order of the Phoenix business when he heard the horrible news that one of them had murdered the other, and was now in Azkaban, a traitor to the Order and to Lily and James themselves.

The downfall of Voldemort, such a source of jubilation to the rest of the wizarding community, marked the beginning of a long stretch of loneliness and unhappiness for Remus.

All quotes from the Pottermore writing Remus Lupin by J.K. Rowling

  • I also remember Harry saying/observing (in multiple occasions in the books) that Lupin looked depressed and unhappy.
    – elrond
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:17
  • @elrond Any chance at retrieving a quote? That would really be stellar and could even be added to the answer Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:49
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    @GhotiandChips Some from The Deathly Hallows: 1) Although Lupin smiled as he shook Harry’s hand, Harry thought he looked rather unhappy (The Will of Albus Dumbledore) 2) Lupin gave him a swift smile, but as they turned away, Harry saw Lupin’s face fall again into lines of misery. (The Wedding) 3) Harry looking at a photograph in Sirius' room: On James’s left was Lupin, even then a little shabby-looking, but he had the same air of delighted surprise at finding himself liked and included (Kreatcher's Tale)
    – elrond
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:12

I think he represents the good person suffering from any given mental illness. The depression can be either a result of such illness or the illness itself. I don’t think J. K. thought of a specific one, she left it open so more people can feel represented and hence be hopeful that it is possible to suffer from such a fate and still be a good person and be capable of actions that make the world a better place.

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