Depression, especially major depressive disorder, is a serious mental illness. Depression affects how the sufferer sees and interacts with the world around them. One symptom of depression is losing interest in things that were once important. While therapy is the go-to when it comes to treatment for depression, there is now data that suggests music in conjunction with therapy goes farther than therapy alone. This list, from Psych2Go, is a suggestion of songs that those with depression found to be useful for themselves. You may find other songs that work for you.
1. Lean On Me – Ben E. King
Lyrics: “Please swallow your pride
If I have faith you need to borrow
For no one can feel those of your needs
That you won’t let show”
Why this song helps: While the tempo is more melancholy, those that suffer from depression have found a strong link to the lyrics. This set in particular suggests that talking about your needs with someone will allow them to help in some way. This may mean talking to a therapist, your family, or your friends. The point is that you can’t bottle everything up and that we all literally need someone to lean on sometimes.
2. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
Lyrics: “This is my fight song
Take back my song
Prove I’m alright song”
Why this song helps: The flow of this song is very upbeat, which can cause someone to sing along. By getting into the music, a depression sufferer is involved in something outside of their symptoms. The lyrics also have a great message as they suggest that you can take back your life. It has been found that those with cancer gravitate towards this song as well.
3. Let It Go – Idina Menzel
Lyrics: “It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
Why this song helps: If one were to listen to this song from start to finish one would see that there is a change happening to the character singing. In the beginning Elsa, from Frozen, sings about her need to hide who she is from everyone around her. As the song progresses she starts to accept who she is and buck the idea of what other’s might think. Those with depression have connected with this song because of this message. Acceptance of who you are is pivotal in a lot of depression recoveries.
4. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
Lyrics: “I can almost see it
That dream I’m dreaming but
There’s a voice inside my head sayin’
You’ll never reach it”
Why this song helps: This song starts off with some negative self-talk, which can be very familiar to someone with depression. Once the song progression though, the listener is introduced to “the climb” and how that’s all that matters. The song reminds the listener that life is full of obstacles but it’s how we overcome them that matters. So, someone with depression might be thinking that they will never be able to get past something and find hope for this particular song.
5. Happy – Pharrell Williams
Lyrics: “Here come bad news, talkin’ this and that
Well, give me all you got, don’t hold it back
Well, I should probably warn ya, I’ll be just fine
No offence to you, don’t waste your time”
Why this song helps: This song is essentially the adult version of “if you’re happy and you know it claps your hand”, which is fantastic. The upbeat lyrics and tempo are made for foot tapping and head bobbing. Someone with depression might enjoy this song because of those things and it’s easy to learn lyrics. Happy has a pleasurable approach to thinking of a happy thought. While this isn’t a guarantee of happiness, where is the harm in listing to a fun song that gets you singing along?
6. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Lyrics: “So remember when 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 that I could be someone”
Why this song helps: The premise of this song is to take the listener through a life of struggle. But it is also there to remind the listener that there are good times regardless of where you are or what you’re going through. It can be daunting to imagine being happy when we feel very low, but this song delivers the idea that something small can mean so much. While this isn’t a cure for depression it is catchy and one can’t help but listen to the emotion behind the lyrics.
7. Brave – Sara Bareilles
Lyrics: “Say what you wanna say
And lets the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave”
Why this song helps: While the lyrics above are found in the chorus, the first lyrics of the song are “you can be amazing.” While this might sound cliché it is, in fact, akin to the “power stance” that has been found to be effective in giving people a boost of confidence. Being brave can mean anything to anyone. It can mean they should ask out that crush of theirs or that they should ask for that raise at work. It can even mean, especially to a depression sufferer, that they should ask for the help they need.
Again, this is just a selection of songs that have been found to help those with depression. If you have a favorite that you think should be on this list, please let us know in the comments.
Other reading from Psych2Go:
Aalbers, Sonja. “Music Therapy for Depression.” Wiley, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 16 Nov. 2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004517.pub3/full. Retrieved November 23, 2017