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Songs About Mental Health and Anxiety

Although it can seem at times like mental health has been hidden away and not spoken about, there have been secret messages of strife through our favourite songs. In my travels, I have discovered songs that I didn't even associate with mental health in my younger years and now taking another listen with my eyes and mind open, I can hear the story being told through the sensitive lyrics. In this article, I have listed a selection of songs about mental health and anxiety from my archives which focus on mental health in both a literal and a metaphorical sense. All these songs will speak to you in different ways, some you may find motivating and uplifting and others you may feel have a darker undertone and could be triggering. No matter how you approach this little playlist of mine, music is a constant in life and something everyone enjoys in their way. It connects us.

Songs that Reflect the Anguish of Mental Illness and Anxiety

Let's get the darkness out of the way. I've encountered a vast array of songs that poignantly capture the anguish and turmoil that often accompany poor mental illness. These songs provide a glimpse into the complex emotions that arise from anxiety's relentless grasp.

Let's get going...

One song that unmistakably reflects the anguish of mental illness is "Demons" by Imagine Dragons. With its haunting chorus and raw vulnerability, the song delves into the inner demons and insecurities that can plague us during dark times. Lead singer Dan Reynolds wrote this song while battling depression.

This song on first inspection seems dark and foreboding but the lyrics go much deeper. It is an inspiration to all those suffering from mental illness, sharing the message of strife can relate to so many feeling the same way and joining a community together and lessen taboos.

Another powerful song that captures the essence of anxiety's anguish is "Breathe Me" by Sia. Through her captivating vocals and heart-wrenching lyrics, Sia masterfully portrays the feeling of being overwhelmed and the desperate plea for someone to understand and provide solace but not knowing how to ask. The song's haunting melody lingers long after the final note, resonating with listeners who have experienced the deep pain that accompanies depression and feelings of being alone.

In "Heavy" by Linkin Park, the band skillfully conveys the weight and burden that mental illness can impose on an individual's psyche. It explores the mental pain we feel when we are unable to move on from tragic life events and the constant overthinking that comes with it. With heartfelt lyrics and a raw, emotional delivery, the song encapsulates the inner struggles of depression, anxiety, addiction and suicide. It is a poignant reminder of the heaviness of what life can bring and an inspiration for our resilience and strength.

"How I'm Feeling Now" by Lewis Capaldi. This song is a personal reflection of the recent trauma and mental health challenges Lewis has felt. Lewis himself said "‘How I’m Feeling Now’… this is absolutely, without a doubt, the most personal song I’ve ever written. His Netflix documentary explored in more detail Lewis' development of tourettes due to poor mental health and why he is taking time away from the public eye to recover. His story is poignant and speaks to many people at the time, due to the impact of the covid lockdowns. If you haven't heard it yet, it's an incredibly relateable and sincere recitement of the reality and toll of mental illness in the 21st century.

"Anxiety" by Simple Plan, is a powerful anthem that speaks directly to the anxieties we all experience. Its lyrics encourage us to confront our fears head-on and to acknowledge the weight of our worries while also recognising the limitless possibilities that lie beyond them. Lead singer Pierre Bouvier has previously said: “With Simple Plan, we’ve come to realize through the years that a lot of our fan base rely on us to get them through some difficult times,” “We try to be conscious to write songs that are about struggling. I think it helps me too. I’m now in my 40s, and I question what I’m doing. I’m struggling. I have anxiety, I have doubts. I doubt my decisions, and where I’m at in my life. And I think that music can be a really helpful tool to get you through those moments."

Discovering Musical Messages of Hope and Resilience

Listening to songs that embody strength and empowerment can be cathartic and therapeutic for those dealing with anxiety and mental illness. They serve as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is light and hope to be found. These songs provide a soundtrack for resilience, offering reassurance that we are not alone in our struggles and that we have the inner strength to persevere.

A song that resonates with themes of hope and resilience is "Brighter" by Patent Pending, a smaller less well-known band with a powerful message. Having seen this band perform this song, to my recollection it was written after a tragic suicide attempt and the song serves as a reminder that there is always something to strive for and live for even during the darkest times.

"Hello Anxiety" by Bowling for Soup is yet another powerful track that embodies the journey from anguish to empowerment but with a more comedic and upbeat approach. Its lyrics touch on the day-to-day struggles and feelings of anxiety but ultimately offer a message of hope and perseverance. This song may be comedic at times but it explains the effects of anxiety in a different light and reminds us all of the reality of living with mental illness in a chaotic world and that we are not alone in it.

Want the ultimate boost? Although there is a dash of sadness behind this song, "I Lived" by One Republic really is something special. It talks about living life to the fullest and enjoying each moment with your loved ones. This song is adaptable and you are transported to your own reality, depending on your own perspective.

These songs, along with others in a similar vein, open up a world of inspiration and encouragement for individuals navigating anxiety. They remind us that we are not defined by our anxieties, but rather by our ability to rise above them.

Songs that empower and comfort us through mental illness

"Scars to Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara explores the singer's previous childhood trauma and the effects of pressure put on women to look a certain way. Cara herself spoke of song by saying: "The standards that we have to kind of face as young women in everyday life just to feel, or look a certain way, or act a certain way, because there's a lot of pressure being a young girl, and just girls and women in general," she said. "So I wanted to make a reminder to just love yourself and appreciate yourself no matter what."

"Try" by Colbie Colbat is the ultimate self-love anthem. Colbats music video shows the singer removing her makeup and hair extensions throughout the video, along with many other women of different ethnicities, sizes and shapes. Colbat said about this song: "['Try'] is about how us women feel like we need to change ourselves in so many different ways for people to accept us and like us," she said. "As much as we all hate that we allow that to happen, we still do it. Every day we wake up and change the way we look just so that we feel better about ourselves."

"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten is a true motivational powerhouse. Written by Platten when she was on the cusp of giving up on herself and her music career, Fight Song is a living reminder that perseverance and dedication win out in the end. Platten once said: "I didn't even realize it was happening, but through writing the song I made the decision to not give up on myself. Even if it's only getting to play to a handful of people a night, that's enough. At least I get to spread this message. Then funnily enough, by releasing the song, I got this amazing opportunity."

"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World is all about being yourself and not being concerned about "fitting in". It echoes themes of non-conformity and knowing your self-worth. Listening to this song still gives me feelings of confidence and that being different is a strength, not a weakness.

Another 00's pop-punk anthem that was all about inner turmoil and not fitting in was Simple Plan's, "Welcome to My Life". Simple Plan had a huge teenage following and they spoke personally to their audience about issues that concerned them most during their most turbulent years. Welcome to My Life is a relatable song that speaks to isolation, non-conformity and loneliness. Ultimately though this powerful song is heartfelt and relatable, even hearing it today a song about loneliness, makes me feel less alone.

"Brave" by Sara Bareilles is a record inspired by the singer's own life and addresses some of the demons she was battling. "I have never felt more open and more raw in my entire life," said Bareilles. "2012 was a year of deconstruction for me. I have been confronting some of my greatest fears in the last handful of months and have been amazed at how empowered I can feel when I muster up the courage to turn and growl back at those monsters under the bed."

By exploring the messages of hope and resilience within these songs, we can tap into the strength and empowerment they offer. Music has a unique ability to reach deep within us, touching our emotions and providing solace in times of struggle. Songs have the remarkable ability to understand our pain, validate our feelings, and offer a sense of comfort amid chaos.

To this day I often use music as a recovery tool. If I ever feel too much on my end, popping in my headphones helps me focus and reduce the chaos in my head.

In the depths of anxiety, it can feel like we are alone in our struggles. But music reminds us that we are not alone. When we listen to songs about anxiety, we realize that countless others have experienced similar emotions and have found a way to overcome them. This sense of connection can be incredibly empowering, as it reminds us that we are not defined by our anxieties, but rather by our ability to rise above them.

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