40 Best Songs About Depression That Will Help You Feel Understood

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woman listening to songs about depression

Depression can be all-consuming.

At your lowest, it strips you of joy, beats you like a riptide and leaves you more isolated than you could ever put to words.

Anyone familiar with mental illness can verify — it’s a parasite, like a second voice that doesn’t care in the slightest for your dreams or relationships.

Enter music.

These 40 songs do their best to encapsulate that loneliness that is the air-sucking, mind-warping claustrophobia of depression.

The 40 Best Songs About Depression Of All Time

1. "everything i wanted" by Billie Eilish

Mental illness is gruelingly individual, but accounts like this reaffirm that you’re never alone; even if you can’t truly sympathize, it’s tough to ignore the hurt baked into each weary line.

I tried to scream / But my head was underwater

They called me weak / Like I’m not just somebody’s daughter

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2. "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones

When asked why he wrote this song, which is told from the perspective of someone who is depressed following the death of loved one, Mick Jagger said, "I don't know. It's been done before. It's not an original thought by any means. It all depends on how you do it."

And the way The Rolling Stones did was by contrasting upbeat rhythyms with deeply dark lyrics, creating a masterful balance that captures the complexity of human emotions.

I see the girls walk by / Dressed in their summer clothes

I have to turn my head / Until my darkness goes

3. "In Between" by Beartooth

This one strikes a balance between hope and recognition. Yes, with support — and a little luck — you can live with depression. No, it won’t be easy.

Searing vocals lead the charge, ensuring you never forget the gravity imposed by mental illness.

Won't let pain get in my way / I can't have silence claiming me

We have strength in numbers, strength in numbers / To get us through the day

4. "Black Dog" by Arlo Parks

This song is a testimony, not of someone living with depression, but of the friends, partners and family who desperately wish to help. You do what you can; you make suggestions, offer help, and provide emotional support. Often, it can feel like a losing battle.

The beauty of "Black Dog" lies in its refrain. No advice, just understanding.

Let's go to the corner store and buy some fruit / I would do anything to get you out your room

Just take your medicine and eat some food / I would do anything to get you out your room

5. "Space Oddity" by David Bowie

A mood unto itself, this track by David Bowie encapsulates helplessness, isolation and a fear of inevitable ruin. While the folks on Earth wonder which brand of shirt he wears in space, Major Tom just wants to go home.

The panic of mental illness can present in a way that’s eerily similar — you’re in a crisis, but it feels like the folks around you care only for trivial things in life.

Sometimes I feel so happy / Sometimes I feel so sad

Sometimes I feel so happy / But mostly you just make me mad

6. "Grey Street" by Dave Matthews

There are a number of fan theories meant to explain Matthews' reasons for writing this song, and regardless of which is true, it remains one of most compelling descriptions of what it's like to struggle with where one is in life.

It can feel as thought every time you capture a glimpse of all the glorious colors life has to offer, something inside melts them all back down into a puddle of grey.

There's an emptiness inside her / And she'd do anything to fill it in

But all the colors mix together / To grey

7. "A Better Son/Daughter" by Rilo Kiley

This one is a song of regret. Being a human means failing — at work, at school and at romance. When you fail those whom you love most, like your family or a partner, the weight of each mistake piles on.

So long as you keep trying, however, there’s always room to grow.

Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can't move / Awake, but cannot open my eyes

And the weight is crushing down on my lungs, I know I can't breathe / And hope someone will save me this time

8. "Save Myself" by Ed Sheeran

"Save Myself" is an ode to anyone who has given too much of themselves and received little to nothing (to worse) in return.

It serves as a reminder to anyone struggling with low self-worth that you are a person of value, and that prioritizing your needs and care isn't selfish — it's survival.

Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels / I drown it with a drink and out of date prescription pills

And all the ones that love me they just left me on the shelf / My farewell

So before I save someone else, I've got to save myself

9. "A Horse With No Name" by America

Without specifically describing mental illness, we’re shown its grip on nearly every aspect of life. This is a deeply melancholic tune — one of isolation, cynicism, and almost folklorish beauty.

After three days in the desert fun / I was looking at a river bed

And the story it told of a river that flowed / Made me sad to think it was dead

10. "Dominoes" by Paul McCartney

How often do we fret and groan over missed opportunities or arguments with loved ones? Anger, grudges — all loosen with time.

The sooner we accept that we’re in this together and that life marches on despite our goals, the sturdier and more lasting will be our shared peace.

We can start to begin / Living in the world we live

This is it, here and now / We can find our way

Somehow

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11. "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails

This song is so powerful even the great Johnny Cash covered it.

While the lyrics reference self-harm and heroin addiction, some believe it is meant as a "suicide note written by the song's protagonist," while others see it as the more hopeful opposite — finding a reason to live in spite of life's pains.

Beneath the stains of time / The feelings disappear

You are someone else / I am still right here

What have I become? / My sweetest friend

Everyone I know / Goes away in the end

12. "I Can Change" by Lake Street Dive

What happens when you succumb (over and over) to your worst impulses? In this ballad by Lake Street Dive, we’re confronted by that which we’d rather gloss over.

We’re reminded that emotional growth derives not from success, but dedication. You have to believe you can change.

Hate casts a long shadow / I know that I lie in it

And let it rule my mind from time to time

13. "Hello in There" by Brandi Carlile

Another emotional scorcher by John Prine, "Hello in There" catalogs the suffocating isolation of old age. Above all, it implores us to love the elderly — or anyone plagued by loneliness.

Sung by Brandi Carlile in remembrance of the late, great songwriter, you internalize the hurt of lost family, lost time. This song is a testament to the unifying power of art.

You know that old trees just grow stronger / And old rivers grow wilder every day

Old people just grow lonesome / Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello.

14. "Anxiety" by Julia Michaels featuring Selena Gomez

For anyone who knows what it's like to live with both depression and anxiety, this one's for you. The lyrics capture the challenges of doubting yourself at (pretty much) all times, leaving you feeling alone and misunderstood.

When the song was released, Gomez said pretty much that to her fans.

"This song is extremely close to my heart as I’ve experienced anxiety and know a lot of my friends do too," she wrote at the time. "You’re never alone if you feel this way.

But all my friends, they don't know what it's like, what it's like

They don't understand why I can't sleep through the night

I've been told that I could take something to fix it

Damn, I wish it, I wish it was that simple, ah

15. "Have All the Songs Been Written" by The Killers

This is a song for when you hurt those you love, reconcile, try your darndest to grow and then fail again anyway.

No, you “can’t take back / what [you’ve] done wrong,” but maybe, just maybe, if you get the words right — if you can describe how you feel, or ace the apology — your nearest and dearest will stick around.

Oh, I just need one, to get through to you / Oh, I just need one more, to get through to you

I can't take back, what I've done wrong / And I just need one more

16. "Cold Little Heart" by Michael Kiwanuka

This song is seeped in longing — not for love, but for acknowledgment.

All is not well, but when you lay bare all that weighs you down, when you share your grief (however painful) with those who would help, the journey toward peace becomes a bit smoother.

Maybe this time I can be strong

But since I know who I am / I’m probably wrong

17. "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Depression is a lifelong trek. You suffer, grow, lapse and adjust. Otherside draws the loneliness associated with mental illness to the forefront.

So long as you push forward, striving for growth and connection, you’re on the right track.

Turn me on, take me for a hard ride / Burn me out, leave me on the other side

I yell and tell it that it's not my friend / I tear it down, I tear it down

And then it's born again

18. "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey

You’re driving along and light begins to wane. The wind goes cold. Suddenly, you’re engulfed in memories — dragged back to a ghostly time, person, or place.

"Summertime Sadness" captures a feeling of dread that cannot be ignored or swallowed up. But just like summer turns to fall, eventually that sadness fades.

Think I'll miss you forever / Like the stars miss the sun in the morning sky

Later's better than never / Even if you're gone, I'm gonna drive (drive), drive

19. "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana

This song was released six months after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's tragic death. The lyrics seem to speak to heroin addiction, as well as to "making a tough decision, the difficult choices around it, and the guilt following it."

I'm so tired I can't sleep / I'm a liar and a thief

Sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea / I'm anemic royalty

20. "Right Before My Eyes" by Cage The Elephant

When it rains, it storms. You’re having issues at work or with family. Then you check the news, and you’re reminded — no, it isn’t just you, but rather, “The whole world lost control.”

The tonality, music and message seem to clash; there’s darkness to each lyric, but the manner in which it’s delivered is achingly tender. In the end, tenderness reigns.

An empty ocean lost our way with no direction home

Golden needles names we take in vain / Find it harder to remain

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21. "Trees" by Twenty One Pilots

Loneliness and depression go hand-in-hand. You’re surrounded by caring, attentive folks who strive for your happiness, but you feel like an island.

Unlike other entries, the answer here is connection — to be known, to see and be seen. Sing along and you’ll experience catharsis. By the song’s end, your belting might even make you a few new friends.

I can feel your breath / I can feel my death

I want to know you / I want to see

I want to say, hello

22. "Self Care" by Mac Miller

There’s little shame in finding respite outside your own mind. Danger only arises when the source of that respite becomes a crutch, when you can’t curb your depression without a drink or hit.

You may escape your troubles briefly, but at what cost?

Yeah, I been reading them signs

I been losin' my, I been losin' my / I been losin' my mind, yeah

23. "Adam's Song" by Blink-182

Possibly the best song about depression that's also a reference to a comedy TV show, "Adam's Song" got its name from a "Mr. Show" sketch, but the laughs stop at its titular inspiration.

Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus wrote the song about the loneliness he experienced while the band was on tour, but the feelings of emptiness and longing it hits are universal to anyone.

I took my time, I hurried up / The choice was mine, I didn't think enough

I'm too depressed to go on / You'll be sorry when I'm gone

24. "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles

People with depression know all-too-well the fear and anxiety that come with looming depressive episodes. You feel like you’re on the run.

Though likely depicting the struggles of toxic romance, "Sign of the Times" captures the awful weight of this repetition.

Just stop your crying / It's a sign of the times

Welcome to the final show / Hope you're wearing your best clothes

You can't bribe the door on your way to the sky

You look pretty good down here / But you ain't really good

25. "I Guess I Just Feel Like" by John Mayer

Written to cope with mental anguish regarding his own life (and the world at large), "I Guess I Just Feel Like" is a reflection on youthful optimism, insincerity and the dreariness of modern life.

The end strikes a more hopeful tone, as the artist declares their intent to nurture goodness — wherever it might be found.

I think I remember / The dream that I had

That love's gonna save us / From a world that's gone mad

I guess I just feel like / What happened to that?

26. "Mad World" by Gary Jules

Gary Jules' cover of this Tears for Fears classic took an already heartbreaking song and made it devastating. There’s a line smack-dab in the middle of "Mad World" that hits a bit close to home: “Children waiting for the day they feel good / Happy birthday, happy birthday.” You think, "Once I’m older, or have a partner, or land that job, I won’t be so alone.

An entry unconcerned with solutions that resonates all the same. When you engage with songs like this, you don’t walk away joyful. You might, however, feel lighter, because you aren’t alone. You never were.

And I find it kind of funny / I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had

I find it hard to tell you 'cause I find it hard to take

When people run in circles it's a very, very

Mad world

27. "Unwell" by Matchbox Twenty

Lead singer Rob Thomas explained that this song is about people who are "F--ked up and feel alone like that ... We all feel a little f--ked up sometimes... you're not alone."

But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell / I know, right now you can't tell

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But stay a while and maybe then you'll see / A different side of me

28. "Blues Run the Game" by Simon and Garfunkel

Quintessentially Simon and Garfunkel, this song blends soft guitar and quiet harmony to evoke isolation, longing for companionship, and fear of self-medication.

Send out for whiskey, mama / Send out for gin

Me and room service, babe / Me and room service, honey

Me and room service / Well, we're living a life of sin

29. "Rocket Man" by Elton John

Those with depression know painfully well that sense of removal — an air of distance from loved ones; a feeling that, if they knew who you really were, they wouldn’t stick around.

Even if you can push forward in daily life, you aren’t always present. As Elton John laments at the start, “It’s lonely out in space.”

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time / 'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find

I'm not the man they think I am at home / Oh, no, no, no

I'm the Rocketman

30. "Breaking Down" by Florence + The Machine

Singer Florence Welch wrote much of the album "Lungs" about her first breakup with long time boyfriend, Welch has said of the song, "I really did feel like I was breaking down several times, it's true. Felt totally mad."

My old familiar friend / Comes and lies down next to me

And I can see you coming from the edge of the room / Smiling in the streetlight

Even with my eyes shut tight / I still see you coming now

Oh, I think I'm breaking down again

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31. "Lemon Boy" by Cavetown

This one is a welcomed respite, packed with cheery resignation. There is misery in this world, sure.

Searching for joy in minutiae, in the unplanned (or even unwanted) is a necessary antidote.

The whales start to beach themselves / Tortoise shells tear away from their spines

It happens all the time, it happens all the time

32. "Breathe Me" by Sia

For many of us, this is the song that put Sia on the map thanks to the "Six Feet Under" finale, but its lyrics are as powerful as the series-ending montage it's most associated with.

Depression can make you feel completely lost, but "Breathe Me" reminds us the necessity of reaching out for help.

Ouch I have lost myself again / Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found

Yeah I think that I might break / Lost myself again and I feel unsafe.

33. "Anthem" by Greta Van Fleet

This song is about acceptance through difference. The singer begs you to seek perspective, to understand that your concerns are not necessarily the concerns of your neighbor. In doing so, you realize community is not (and never was) a bunch of people feeling exactly the same way.

When you recognize that the folks around you spend just as much time in their heads, worrying, pining and regretting, you love them more. In the process, you just might grow to love yourself.

With the news, there's something every day / So many people thinking different ways, you say

Where is the music? A tune to free the soul

34. "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young

Lost love. Painful memories. Sometimes you need to revel in them, holding grief close. It can be therapeutic and even freeing.

Just lie back and let the quiet chords, the crooning chorus, melt your sorrows.

When we were strangers / I watched you from afar

When we were lovers / I loved you with all my heart

But now it's gettin' late / And the moon is climbin' high

I want to celebrate / See it shinin' in your eye

35. "Angel from Montgomery" by Bonnie Raitt

Few artists captured the deep, aching melancholy of existence like the late John Prine. You go to work, you come home; is that life?

You’re drenched in longing, in dreams so big you can hardly move. Days turn into weeks. Weeks become years. Singer Bonnie Raitt elevates the tune with near-ghostly vocals.

There's flies in the kitchen / I can hear 'em there buzzin'

And I ain't done nothing / Since I woke up today.

36. "Stressed Out" by A Tribe Called Quest

Pain is individual. Even so, hearing others describe their own suffering brings with it a guilty solace.

Confidence tinged with desperation — that’s how we interpret the ending, which seems to repeat as a way to convince the artist himself: “We’ve gotta make it...we’ve gotta make it.”

Yo I know the feeling, when you feeling like a villain / You be having good thoughts but the evils be revealin'

And the stresses of life can take you off the right path (no doubt) / Jealousy and envy tends to infiltrate your staff

37. "I’m Not Okay (I Promise)" by My Chemical Romance

"I’m Not Okay (I Promise)" may not be the heaviest entry on the list, but it still packs an emotional wallop. For the used, the betrayed, the overlooked — this one’s for you.

It's an irreverent tune that reminds us to never take another person’s humanity for granted, to look twice at those who claim to be alright.

What will it take to show you / That it's not the life it seems? (I'm not okay)

I've told you time and time again / You sing the words but don't know what it means (I'm not okay)

38. "Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)" by John Lennon

This is a song gripped not by depression but joy. We are, each of us, a miracle — of biology, sure, but it’s more than that.

You are unequivocally yourself. You are grand. Like the moon and stars shine above, so do you glow with individuality.

Why in the world are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear

Why on earth are you there / When you're everywhere?

Come and get your share

39. "Anyone" by Demi Lovato

In your darkest moments, to whom do you turn? Maybe you pray. Maybe you sing. Real darkness sets in when those outlets fail, when your cries seem to fall on deaf ears.

With "Anyone," Demi Lovato pleads for connection. It isn’t that she wants a friend; she needs you to share in her pain, because it isn’t just hers — she sings for all the lonely.

A hundred million stories / And a hundred million songs

I feel stupid when I sing / Nobody's listening to me

40. "Crawling" by Linkin Park

Chester Bennington's tragic death makes his lyrics all the more heartbreaking. But there is solace to be had in still having them and knowing they make us feel less alone.

"Crawling" in particular perfectly captures the physical nature of depression, how it overwhelms the senses as well as the mind.

Discomfort endlessly has pulled itself upon me / Distracting, reacting

Against my will I stand beside my own reflection / It's haunting

How I can't seem / To find myself again

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Joseph Heiland is a writer and graphic designer whose fiction has appeared in Lumina Journal and Eastern Iowa Review. He holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.