Playlist for Depression and Anxiety

September 8, 2021

When you are feeling depressed or anxious, what do you do to get through the darkest moments? Music, for many of us, plays a big role in these challenging times.

There are, quite literally, thousands of playlists on Spotify these days, all focused on depression and anxiety. Many of them have thousands of followers. Clearly, many people use music as a means to cope with mental health issues. 

Outside of your playlist tab on Spotify, research also supports music for mental health. According to “Reviewing the Effectiveness of Music Interventions in Treating Depression,” published in 2017, music therapy is incredibly helpful for mental health outcomes. 

Even sad songs help during challenging periods. Depression and anxiety can be an especially lonely experience, and melancholy lyrics can resonate, creating a feeling of kinship with the artist behind them. Songs with sadness make your own feelings, just a little less lonely than before. They can offer hope in a world that doesn’t feel so hopeful. 

In an article in Emotion, authors Yoon and Verona explain, people, listen to sad music when depression because of “its calming effects rather than any desire to increase or maintain sad feelings.” When we are down, we feel a connection to low-energy songs. It’s a scientific fact.

What’s on Your Mental Health Playlist? 

Teenage girl with eyes closed hugging little cat and listening to music

What songs resonate with your lived experience with depression and anxiety? 

We’ve reached deep into forums, public postings, and more to find out what songs have been helping others. Here are what some people have shared about using music as therapy.

1.”Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

“I remember we were driving, driving in your car

Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk

City lights lay out before us

And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder

I had a feeling that I belonged

I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.”

As one survey respondent told the Mighty, Tracy Chapman’s song hit home because “It depicts a life of struggle, but a yearning and willingness to believe and work for something so much more.” 

For anyone feeling like they are spinning their wheels (literally or figuratively), Chapman has written this song for you.

2. “I” by Kendrick Lamar

“Everybody lookin’ at you crazy (Crazy) 

What you gon’ do? (What you gon’ do?) 

Lift up your head and keep moving (Keep moving) 

Or let the paranoia haunt you? (Haunt you) 

Peace to fashion police, I wear my heart.”

It’s incredible just how many people highlight Kendrick Lamar’s songs on their playlist for depression. His work is melodic, poetic, and a constant reminder to stay strong and keep going, no matter the adversity you experience.

This song confronts the judgment and public criticism you feel. Kendrick tells you to keep your head up, even if our emotions are telling us otherwise. If Kendrick can stay positive and kill the feelings of paranoia, so can you.

3. “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga

“When I bow down to pray

I try to make the worst seem better

Lord, show me the way

To cut through all his worn-out leather

I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away

But baby, I just need one good one, good one.”

Julie C. told the Mighty in their article covering songs for depression, that Million Reasons “reminds me that yes, there may be ‘a million reasons’ to be stressed and anxious and it’s so easy to give in, but sometimes all it takes is just one reason to be that light at the end of the tunnel or that one reason to remind me everything is eventually gonna be OK.”

Lady Gaga’s powerful voice delivers an emotional message. It’s also a reminder that we all experience music differently. While Lady Gaga wrote the song about the deterioration of a relationship and falling out of love, Julie C. hears her own experience with anxiety in the lyrics. It’s a perfect example of how music speaks to all of us differently. 

How does this song relate to you?

4. “Fix You” by Coldplay

“When the tears come streaming down your face

‘Cause you lose something you can’t replace

When you love someone, but it goes to waste

What could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you.”

If there ever was a power-ballad for heart-wrenching emotional turmoil, Coldplay likely wrote it. The song “Fix You” appears on several different Spotify Playlists for depression, and it’s no surprise. 

“Fix You” not only accurately depicts some of the hardest moments you may have felt, but it also gives hope. Coldplay has a unique ability to turn even tragic experiences into one filled with light.

5. “Gravity” by John Mayer

“Gravity is working against me

And gravity wants to bring me down

Oh, I’ll never known what makes this man

With all the love that his heart can stand

Dream of ways to throw it all away.”

What do you hear in the lyrics of one of John Mayer’s most heartfelt tracks? Perhaps it isn’t even in lyrics at all, but the strumming of his guitar. 

Arika B. explained that for her, “It’s about acknowledging the pain and getting through it a little at a time. You can have great periods of low symptoms, and suddenly, it just hits hard.” 

She went on to tell the Mighty, “It’s about being humble enough to acknowledge the issue and danger of depression, so it doesn’t take a harder toll. No one knows why depression chooses some of us, but [I believe] it takes being proactive and acknowledgment to live a healthy life.” 

6. “Titanium” by David Guetta, featuring Sia

“I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose

Fire away, fire away

Ricochet, you take your aim

Fire away, fire away

You shoot me down but I won’t fall

I am titanium.”

Maybe guitar solos and heartbreak aren’t quite what you need during this challenging period. Straight from the decks of David Guetta, comes a song of hope and courage. It speaks loud and clear that we need to stand up and stay strong, like the strength of titanium. 

If sad songs tend to drag you deeper, find a high note with beats like this one. It’s all about keeping your head above water, no matter what life throws at you. Thanks to powerful lyrics sung by Sia, it’s going to be a challenge not to feel a little more courageous after throwing this one on to your playlist.

So, What’s on Your Playlist for Depression and Anxiety?

What personal experience and Spotify demonstrate is just how important music is for dealing with emotions and mental health. 

We can also see how some people lean towards uplifting and hopeful songs, while others tend to find solace in heartbreak and tragedy. Happy, sad melodies, or whatever notes hit closest to heart, your playlist probably creates a sense of calm. It’s a way to get through the dark times and break through the loneliness.

Do you have any recommendations to share from your personal playlist?

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