Music has been a part of society’s collective emotional outlet since it has existed. From heavy metal to sweet ballads, pretty much any given song portrays some sort of feeling, whether it is happy, excited, sad, or angry.
This is probably why music can be so helpful to lift your spirits when you’re feeling depressed. Although it certainly isn’t a cure for depression – only therapy, medication, or other treatments can help with that – listening to your favorite song when you’re feeling down can help you feel better, if only for a little while. Whereas some songs help you feel less alone in your sadness by voicing feelings of pain, others help you leave your problems behind by being more uplifting.
Here are 12 songs to listen to when you’re feeling depressed, whether by helping you cry it all out or by giving a boost to your mood.
Cry it Out
Although major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, it’s easy to feel alone with you feeling depressed. These songs can bring about a sense of catharsis – and the feeling that you aren’t the only one going through these struggles.
- Hurt – Johnny Cash
Although this is a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song of the same name, there’s something about the pain and age in Johnny Cash’s voice that makes his version generally lauded as superior. A painful rendition of guilt and depression, this song is a great way to connect emotionally and feel a sense of catharsis.
- Mad World – Gary Jules
When you’re feeling like life is spiraling out of control, putting on “Mad World” by Gary Jules can help you feel like you aren’t the only one. Its haunting melody and simple vocal style let you really focus on the lyrics – which are beautifully sad and pensive.
- Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”, a plea for escape from tough situations, is a song that many of us can relate to when feeling depressed. “…we’ve gotta make a decision, leave tonight or live and die this way” illustrates what it’s like when we know we can do better if we only had a chance.
- Emotionless – Good Charlotte
A song about a son abandoned by his father, “Emotionless” by Good Charlotte tells the story of how it feels to be left behind by those whom you loved and who you thought loved you. Good Charlotte’s reputation for being over the top aside, this song is honest and is a good listen when you’re missing someone.
- Adam’s Song – blink-182
“Adam’s Song” by blink-182 is another relatable song when you’re feeling down. “I never thought I’d die alone; I laughed the loudest, who’d have known?” are the opening lyrics, and they perfectly portray a feeling of failure or deterioration – which many people who are feeling depressed can relate to.
- Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
“Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is an ode to the writers’ loved ones who have passed away. A beautiful, gloomy musing on life and death, it’s great to listen to when you’re feeling a sense of loss and want to feel a little less alone in the world.
Boost Your Mood
Sometimes, you just need to forget your problems and get carried away by uplifting tunes. After all, since depression can derail other productive tasks – for instance, 30% of college students report that depression inhibits their ability to function in school – it can sometimes be helpful to just let it fade away for a while.
- Kick, Push – Lupe Fiasco
Possibly Lupe Fiasco’s most popular song, “Kick, Push” tells the tale of a young boy falling in love with skateboarding. However, it goes deeper than that, touching on young romance, feeling out of place, and the freedom that comes with letting go and allowing yourself to coast.
- Up Up & Away – Kid Cudi
This popular party song is all about feeling good and maintaining a positive outlook on life despite personal struggles. Kid Cudi has always been open about his troubles with depression, and this song perfectly encapsulates those days that you emerge from the fog and just feel good.
- Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
Let’s be frank – this song is just cute. A simple tune about all-encompassing love, its upbeat melody, and happy lyrics are sure to put a smile on your face.
- September – Earth, Wind & Fire
A song about nostalgia, love, and dancing, “September” is a go-to mood-lifting tune. It doesn’t touch on loss or sadness, but that’s part of what makes this song great; it’s simple, positive, and melodically beautifully crafted.
- Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
When you need to escape from your sadness for a little while, Bob Marley is there to remind you that “every little thing is gonna be alright.” Marley has always been a master of lyricism, and this song is no exception – which is probably why it’s still so popular today.
- Nova – Ahrix
This one’s a bit of a wildcard, as it doesn’t have any words. However, the bubbly, upbeat pacing and melody of this electronic hit are great for dancing around in your room too.
Whether you need to feel less alone in your struggles or are looking for a slice of happiness to uplift your day, music can nearly always help. So build a playlist, throw on some headphones, and let your music give you an escape.
What are some other songs you like to listen to when feeling down?