Depression is an all-too-familiar condition that many of us have gone through. It’s not a good place to be stuck in.
It makes matters worse when no one understands what we’re going through. Some may think it’s a shallow case of sadness, or we’re just exaggerating things.
Good thing there are songs that capture the feeling of being depressed. These songs contain unique powers to help us process and work through serious emotions. So here we have compiled 23 songs about depression and feeling depressed.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency or wish to talk to a professional in the United States, contact the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This new 988 service functions like the 911 emergency number. If you’re in the UK, call the Samaritans at 116 123.
1. “Adam’s Song” By Blink-182
Our list starts with “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182, which remains one of the band’s most enduring classics. This heartfelt single appeared on the 1999 album Enema of the State.
Blink-182 is best remembered for its songs poking fun at being a reckless youth. However, “Adam’s Song” broke the mold for this pop-punk trio. This song about depression became a meaningful addition to this band’s legacy.
The song’s lyrics reflect a realistic portrait of someone dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. In a song with “depressed” in the lyrics, one line says, “I’m too depressed to go on.” Because of its realism, “Adam’s Song” can be controversial or comforting, depending on the person.
2. “Paint It, Black” By The Rolling Stones
This trippy single from The Rolling Stones offers distinctive Eastern and Middle-Eastern influences from the opening riff. However, it should not distract listeners from the thoughtful lyrics about depression and grief in “Paint It, Black.”
Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones perform this song as an ode to sudden and unexpected grief. Jagger expresses his wish to “paint it black” and cloak his environment in mourning.
Jagger’s voice drones for much of the song, sounding like a funeral dirge. When he is not singing emotionlessly, his voice rises to a near-shout. These changes help reinforce the idea of waves of grief.
3. “Summertime Sadness” By Lana Del Rey
Prolific songwriter Lana del Rey scored a long-lasting hit with the single “Summertime Sadness.” This sultry crooner released the song in 2012 on the album Born to Die.
Del Rey uses her alto voice to establish a dreary tone for this single. She captures the highs and lows of summer love with her evocative lyrics. She feels recklessly happy when with him but understands these relationships rarely last.
Del Rey laments how fleeting the experience feels. She describes anticipating depression with lyrics like, “I know if I go, I’ll die happy tonight.”
4. “How To Save A Life” By The Fray
Before becoming a fixture on soundtracks like Grey’s Anatomy, this song comforted those who love someone with depression. “How to Save a Life” was performed by The Fray on the 2006 album of the same name.
Lead singer Isaac Slade was inspired to write the song based on a personal experience. He once participated in a mentorship program for troubled teens. During that time, he was ill-equipped to provide guidance to a teen who lost his best friend and didn’t know how to deal with it.
He penned this song to help himself and others find ways to support people with mental health concerns.
5. “Fix You” By Coldplay
Our next song, “Fix You,” is one of the most popular songs by the alternative rock group Coldplay. The song delivers a hopeful message to support someone going through a tough time.
According to frontman Chris Martin, his new relationship with actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2002 inspired the song. He met her mere weeks after she lost her father. This reflects the line in the song that says, “…you lose something you can’t replace.”
The musician used this song to attempt to convey the simple and comforting words he would try to use to soothe her.
6. “A Little Too Much” By Shawn Mendes
We all know the feeling of going through ups and downs. Sometimes everything is okay, but other times we feel depressed. Shawn Mendes‘ “A Little Too Much” reflects this sentiment.
In the lyrics, the singer talks about a woman who’s trying to be brave. From the outside, people see her as a strong woman. But deep inside, she goes through periods where she doubts herself.
It gets “a little too much” sometimes. Like the rest of us, she feels alone. There are times when “she could barely carry on.” The singer offers help and encouraging words even when the woman knows she’ll eventually be all right.
7. “Lose You To Love Me” By Selena Gomez
American singer and actress Selena Gomez released this healing anthem in 2020 on the album Rare. “Lose You to Love Me” describes setting healthy boundaries in a relationship. It sets the stage for someone who heals from a period of sadness, abuse, or isolation.
Gomez uses descriptive lyrics for someone who would “set fire to my forest.” This person is generally unsupportive though she gave her all to him. Fans believe this song refers to the break-up between Gomez and fellow singer Justin Bieber.
The former Disney Channel star explains that sometimes severing ties with toxic people is the answer to healing. The mellow piano and lush strings make the song ultimately hopeful and uplifting.
8. “Hurt” By Johnny Cash
Country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash covered this Nine Inch Nails song near the end of his long and historic career. “Hurt” appears on his 2002 album American IV: The Man Comes Around.
The lyrics of “Hurt” describe someone feeling such heights of depression they feel numb. The song opens with the words, “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel.” The singer adds that the pain is “the only thing that’s real.”
Cash’s quivering vocals add a haunting quality to these forlorn sentiments. But some listeners believe this song provides hope and a way out of depression.
9. “Dancing On My Own” By Robyn
Swedish pop songstress Robyn delivers a surprisingly upbeat song to this list of songs about depression. “Dancing on My Own” burst onto the dance floors from the 2010 album Body Talk Pt. 1.
“Dancing on My Own” describes the feeling of watching an ex-partner move on without you. The singer is watching from afar, feeling depressed to see her ex with a new person.
Anyone can easily resonate with the song’s message. Breakups are really painful, and it’s sad to know your ex is leaving you to “dance” on your own and find the joy of being alone.
10. “Loser” By Beck
Enigmatic rocker Beck drones about his underwhelming personality on the cult classic “Loser.” Beck released the song on his 1994 album Mellow Gold.
This unique song manages to be folk, hip-hop, and alternative rock all at the same time. The memorable lyric “I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me” speaks to a feeling of hopelessness and being resigned to underachieving.
In some parts, the song contains direct and morbid lyrics. Many other words are nonsensical and the result of a spontaneous six-hour recording session. Beck slips into periods of rapping on the song, along with brief Spanish lines.
11. “Skinny Love” By Bon Iver
Indie folk band Bon Iver crooned this sad and sleepy ballad on their debut album For Emma, Forever Ago. “Skinny Love” was released in 2007.
The inspiration for “Skinny Love” comes from a relationship based on a shaky foundation. The singer explains the sadness of entering a partnership with someone because you are depressed or need help.
Those motives are “skinny” and doomed to fail. In the end, he is reduced to telling the other person, “And now all your love is wasted.”
Vernon’s frail and whispery vocals float above acoustic instrumentation in this delicate and haunting tune.
12. “Creep” By Radiohead
The 1993 song “Creep” established Radiohead as a moody British rock band. This iconic single is off their debut album Pablo Honey and became a global hit.
“Creep” describes being in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation and wanting to remove yourself from it. The feeling of being a creep and looking out of place provides the foundation for this song. When the singer laments, “I don’t belong here,” we know the feeling. And it can be pretty depressing.
While songwriter Thom Yorke penned some depressing lyrics, he sees them as hopeful. According to Yorke, understanding situations where you feel like a creep helps you realize who you are.
13. “Lithium” By Evanescence
For some people, depression is a periodic occurrence that feels like a normal part of life. That is what the rock band Evanescence describes in their 2006 single “Lithium.”
This song, with a metaphor for depression in the title, is the creation of the band’s lead vocalist Amy Lee. Lithium is a mood booster usually prescribed to treat depression. In the song, lithium is used as a metaphor for this condition.
The singer is going through chronic depression, and she becomes used to it. And now she can’t live without it, prompting her to say, “Lithium, I wanna stay in love with sorrow.” Despite the many chances she has of making a change, it sounds like she’s afraid of happiness.
14. “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” By Biffy Clyro
From the title alone, we can tell how depressive the song is. “Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies” came off Biffy Clyro‘s 2007 album, Puzzle.
The songwriter himself admits that the song talks about going through a tough time and not caring. He’s drowning in sorrows and problems left and right. Everywhere he looks, “someone dies, wonder when it’s my turn.”
The song is an introspection of what it means to live. The singer declares, “Life’s a problem because everything dies.” He also adds that time is a luxury because it’s not something we have. We all have one destiny in the end, so there’s no point wasting time.
15. “Everybody Hurts” By R.E.M.
Our next song is off the 1992 album Automatic for the People. R.E.M.‘s “Everybody Hurts” is a sweeping song that delivers straightforward, hopeful lyrics.
Although the song is an encouragement, it also shows how depression manifests. It feels like days drag on and everything is wrong. At times, we feel like we’ve had enough that it’s easy to let go. We feel alone and that nobody understands how we feel.
But the song assures us that “everybody hurts sometimes” and that you’re not alone in this experience. It ends with the singer repeating the words “hold on” as a simple and comforting sentiment for those experiencing depression.
16. “Be OK” By Ingrid Michaelson
Folk singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson offers an up-tempo song from a 2008 album. “Be OK” is a message for someone experiencing sadness to find the strength to make it through the day.
The repetitive lyrics reflect the despair people feel when dealing with depression. The singer tells us that she’s broken and is resigned to the fact that she’s “beyond repair.”
But she’s had enough of this sinking feeling. She doesn’t want to go through it anymore, so she chants the sentiments, “I just wanna be OK” and “I just wanna know today.” These illustrate repetitive thoughts that go with patches of sorrow or loneliness.
17. “Unwell” By Matchbox Twenty
Up next is a song that mentions “unwell” as a manifestation of depression. The catchy ballad “Unwell” features relatable lyrics about mental illness. Matchbox Twenty included the song on the 2002 album More Than You Think You Are.
The song opens with the singer grappling with insomnia and feelings of hopelessness. He keeps “hearing voices” and feels like he’s going to have a breakdown. The fact that he doesn’t know why is a testament to the complexity of identifying whether it is depression or not.
He continues to ruminate on the dead ends and ponders if he will be institutionalized. He wants his loved ones to understand his situation. That he’s “not crazy” but “just a little unwell.”
18. “Mad World” By Gary Jules
American singer-songwriter Gary Jules delivers a truly sobering song with the existential “Mad World.” Jules’ sad song arrived on the 2001 soundtrack for the cult classic movie Donnie Darko.
The song reflects how a life without a purpose goes about. We know what to do: wake up, go do our jobs or attend school. Go home and do everything again. Every day is like this, and yet many feel like they’re living an aimless life.
From the lyrics, we can feel a sense of hopelessness from the singer. He laments, “I wanna down my sorrow, No tomorrow, no tomorrow.” One often-quoted line includes, “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.”
19. “Chandelier” By Sia
Next on our list is “Chandelier,” a song that effectively describes living with high-functioning depression. “Chandelier” came from Sia‘s 2014 album Voices.
Sia uses the popular imagery of swinging from a chandelier to deliver her message. While the singer may look like the life of the party, she is barely holding on to her mental health. She continues to fool everyone by swinging from a chandelier because “party girls don’t get hurt.”
Sia’s voice confidently soars over the chorus before her voice breaks with agony on the high notes. This vocal texture expertly delivers the message of the song.
20. “Lonely” By Akon
Depression is characterized by periods of loneliness. And in Akon‘s “Lonely,” we find someone who’s going through loneliness after breaking up with his girl.
From the lyrics, we find the singer lamenting the loss of his lover. As the case may be, regret always happens in the end. And despite regretting his decisions that push his love away, he’s too late. For she’s already gone.
And now all he can do is reminisce about all the things she did for him. She had always been there for him and stayed by his side despite seeing the ugly side of him. It’s only then he realizes that he’s always got the good girl. But even that realization is too late.
21. “Welcome To The Black Parade” By My Chemical Romance
Emo-punk group My Chemical Romance marched to the top of the charts with “Welcome to the Black Parade” from the 2006 album The Black Parade.
This song was inspired by frontman Gerard Way’s views of the afterlife. He believes the image of crossing over to death looks like your favorite memory from any period of life.
For this song, the person dying remembers a fond childhood memory of attending a parade. Therefore, death is visualized and celebrated in the song in the form of a ghoulish and goth black parade.
22. “Numb” By Linkin Park
Rock-rap group Linkin Park topped the charts with “Numb” in 2003. Frontman Chester Bennington helped write the sensitive lyrics to this song and sang them with ferocity.
From the lyrics, we can feel the pain of the singer from the expectations of those around him. It could be his parents or someone else that has a significant impact on his life. He tries to walk in the footsteps of that person but ends up feeling pressured to do so.
“Numb” shares vulnerable and introspective thoughts about depression and feeling useless. Lyrics like, “Every step that I take is another mistake to you,” reinforce these deep feelings of despair.
23. “Dark Times” By The Weeknd Ft. Ed Sheeran
To close this list, we are featuring a song from The Weeknd‘s 2015 album Beauty Behind the Madness. The Weeknd teams up with singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran to write the lyrics for the song “Dark Times.”
The title refers to the bad habits when the singer experiences periods of depression and isolation. He admits to recklessness associated with a life of partying, drinking, and fighting. He hates the idea of bringing a person, perhaps a romantic partner, into such a chaotic life.
Sadly, the singer is resigned that “it’s the life I chose.” It sounds like he doesn’t want to do anything about it because “this is all I could be.”
Summing Up Our List Of Depression Songs
Songs about depression capture the full spectrum of living with mental illness. These songs serve as a reminder that we are not alone in going through this difficult time. That there are people out there who know and understand what we’re going through.
If you’re feeling depressed right now, give these songs a listen. But don’t just stop there. Do self-care to help improve your mental health. After all, if we can love our families or romantic partner, then we are capable of loving ourselves. Flaws and all.
If you wish to talk to someone about depression or mental health, call the new 988 number and the Samaritans. Someone is always there to listen.