14 Show Tunes That Have Helped People Through Anxiety and Depression


Though not everyone has had the chance to see their favorite musical live (hey, it’s expensive!), thanks to recorded soundtracks, movie remakes and streaming services, our favorite show tunes are now more accessible than ever — and they’re doing way more than entertaining.

Often, a song from a play, musical or movie carries a powerful story behind it — some of which, according to our mental health community, have helped people through anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health conditions.

Since it’s Tony season, we asked our readers to share a show tune that has helped them through a difficult time (and created a Spotify playlist at the bottom for you, too). We hope one of these picks resonates with you. And if not, we’d love to hear what music, if any, helps you deal with anxiety and depression.

Here’s what our community picked:

1. “La Vie Bohème” from Rent!

“Reminds me of the little things in life that are so good. I get very anxious about small things, and remembering all of the small, amazing things in life calms me down.” — Elizabeth M.

2. “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress

“It’s so beautiful and heart-wrenching, and the lyrics remind me to fight every day. I honestly can’t say how much this song means to me.” — Erika K.

3. “Wait For It” from Hamilton

“This song inspired me because even through the tragedy and difficulty Aaron Burr experienced, he still found a way to believe he still had a chance in his life to achieve what he wanted.” — Eva G.

4. “Defying Gravity” from Wicked

“Inspires me to defy anything that seems as strong and overpowering as gravity (anxiety, negativity, hatred, racism, anger, etc). Such a inspiring, empowering song!” — Lauren L.

5. “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables

“It’s a great song with emotion. I can sing and cry and get all the emotions I need to out. For some reason by the end, I typically feel like I’ve released enough to move forward with my day. Sometimes I listen to it more than once.” — Sarah C.

6. “Always Starting Over” from If/Then 

“Encompasses raw frustration and heartbreak.” — Caitlyn D.

7. “Masquerade” from The Phantom of the Opera 

“Because I have to wear a mask.” — Jack T.

8. “Light” from Next to Normal

“The entire musical is amazing, but the finale is specifically about recovery from mental illness and finding hope even if things aren’t OK at the present moment. I know this post asked about depression and anxiety, but I feel like ‘Light’ can be uplifting for everyone with any mental illness.” — Nicole M.

9. “Maybe/Tomorrow (reprise)” from Annie

— submitted by Charlie G.

10. “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music

“It calms me down, and sometimes I even challenge myself to switch the lyrics to a list of my own favorite things. It helps bring me out of an anxiety attack.” — Clara B.

11. “Watch What Happens” from Newsies

— submitted by Kelli F.

12. “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen

“Gives me hope each and every time I listen to it. Makes me feel that everyone in this world is here for a reason.” — Samara L.

13. “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” from Hair

“It reminds me of the day I saw the show, which was a happy one, plus the feeling of that song just makes me smile.” — Tamara Z.

14. “Day By Day” from Godspell

“I’m not a particularly religious person but I find that my personal spirituality helps me find clarity in hard times. This song and George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ are the closest thing I have to prayers.” — Shaun S.

Does a song from a musical help you through depression and/or anxiety? Let us know your pick in the comments below.


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