While music isn’t a magic “cure” for mental illness, it can be a powerful coping mechanism for people who struggle with both anxiety and depression every day. When our own minds are constantly feeding us negative thoughts and worries, music can take us to a different place — whether we need a pick-me-up or something to cry to, it’s always there.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Let It Go” from “Frozen”
“This came on in my van as I sat contemplating suicide. It sounds cheesy, but listening to the words along with thinking about my beautiful babies gave me the courage to let go of some of my demons, even if it just meant having enough courage not to end my life.” — Carleigh W.
“Let it go, let it go / Turn away and slam the door / I don’t care / what they’re going to say / Let the storm rage on. / The cold never bothered me anyway.”
2. “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
“Hey, don’t write yourself off yet / It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on. / Just try your best, try everything you can. / And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.”
3. “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty
“I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell/ I know right now you can’t tell/ But stay a while and maybe then you’ll see a different side of me.”
4. “Breathe Me” by Sia
“This song is honestly so relatable and it’s always really nice to hear a song that you can relate to and to know that someone so loved can relate to the kind of things you go through daily.” — Hollie W.
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.
5. “Holding On to You” by twenty one pilots
“This song is what kept me alive last year. It was so comforting to know someone I admired and respected struggled with the same thoughts I did and managed to fight them.” — Abigail W.
“Time is slowin’ and it’s rolling still / And the windowsill looks really nice, right? / You think twice about your life / It probably happens at night, right?”
6. “A Moment’s Grace” by Boy & Bear
“The lyrics swept me off my feet and got deep in my bones. I highly recommend giving it a listen. The words metaphorically speak to me.” — Cheryl P.
“And when it comes back heavy /You’ll be more than ready/Like you should / Cause I am not/Gonna die this way”
7. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
“I used to be in a mental institution. I used to play that song all the time. Apparently all the other residents liked it and we used to sing it in line before going somewhere. Hearing everyone sing that song and having smiles on their faces just made the day a lot better.” — Melissa M.
“Don’t worry about a thing / ‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright / Singing’ don’t worry about a thing /’Cause every little thing gonna be alright.”
8. “Something Wild” by Lindsey Stirling ft. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
“You’ve got a big heart / The way you see the world / It got you this far / You might have some bruises / And a few of scars / But you know you’re gonna be OK / And even though you’re scared / You’re stronger than you know.”
9. “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine
“I like the idea of just having enough and doing whatever it takes to get better. I hear the song and it’s like, I’m not going to forget my struggle but I’m done letting it define me and who I’m meant to be.” — Lauren H.
“It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back / so shake him off.”
10. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf
“This may sound silly, but… it is upbeat and so much fun to sing along with! For those few minutes I’m having a blast singing along, and I forget about everything.” — Wendy P.
“Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night / I can see paradise by the dashboard light.”
11. “Let It Be” by The Beatles
“And when the brokenhearted people / Living in the world agree / There will be an answer / Let it be.”
12. “Be OK” by Ingrid Michaelson
“It’s simple, upbeat, and so appropriate.” — Lauren C.
“I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today / I just want to feel something today / I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today / I just want to feel something today.”
13. “A Little Too Much” by Shawn Mendes
“It’s like it was written about my life.” — Emma-Jane L.
“She would not show that she was afraid / But being and feeling alone was too much to face, / Everyone said that she was so strong / What they didn’t know is that she could barely carry on.”
14. “Breathe (2 a.m.)” by Anna Nalick
“I would listen to this song over and over and over during my depressions (and periods of bad anxiety).” — Jen S.
15. “Human” by Christina Perri
“But I’m only human / And I bleed when I fall down / I’m only human / And I crash and I break down / Your words in my head, knives in my heart / You build me up and then I fall apart / ‘Cause I’m only human, yeah.”
16. “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls
“There’s something cathartic about listening to someone who also has trouble conveying to who they really are to other people.” — Sharon E.
“And I don’t want the world to see me / ‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand / When everything’s meant to be broken / I just want you to know who I am.”
17. “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi
“Tell me what you know about dreams (dreams) / Tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin’ / You don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow / Rather lay awake in the bed full of sorrow.”
18. “Let Her Cry” by Hootie and the Blowfish
“And just let her cry if the tears fall down like rain. / Let her sing if it eases all her pain. / Let her go, let her walk right out on me. / And if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be, let her be.”
19. “Obsessions” by Marina and the Diamonds
“The song is about those things that are bad for us but we can’t cut out of our lives, they stay with us all the time, hurting us but comforting us when no one else can. It talks about those everyday problems people with mental illness face, like how anxiety makes you rather go a week without food than having to go to the supermarket. It helps me a lot to know that I am not alone with my feelings and that my role model has also felt the way I do.” — Annika M.
“We’ve got obsessions / I want to erase every nasty thought / That bugs me every day of every week.”
20. “I Want It” by Blue October
“It’s such an empowering song and lifts me up. The line ‘everybody owns a scar to show us how we got this far’ is my favorite! It helps me to step back and look at everything that has happened to me and realize that all the trials and tribulations have made me what I am today!” — Lindsay W.
“Here’s to the ones who said that you couldn’t win / Here’s to the crazies getting under your skin / They’re always gonna talk / But I’m never gonna stop / I won’t walk away / (I want it, crave it, bottle up and save it) / I’m here to stay.”
What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.