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44 Throwback Songs That Help People With Depression

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We always enjoy introducing (or in this case, re-introducing) our readers to songs people in our mental health community use to help them cope with depression. Since it’s #ThrowbackThursday and we were feeling a bit nostalgic, we asked our Mighty readers to share the “throwback” songs they still listen to when they’re in a darker place.

Music can’t “cure” depression, but the right melody or lyric can certainly help if you’re struggling right now. We hope at least one of these songs resonates with you.

1. “Hybrid Theory” (the album) by Linkin Park

“Got me through my toughest and darkest days. To this day, I can listen to the album, and my anxiety/depression seems to slip away, like I am free for that short time. All in all, if I didn’t have music in my life, I don’t think I’d be here today. All my fears, worries, stressful thoughts [and] worthlessness, fade away into the sweet bliss of rhythm, and poetic song.” — Marlene D.

2. “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson

“Literally saved my life… kept me from ending it all years ago when I heard it randomly play on the radio right when I needed to hear its lyrics. I reached out for help that night.” — Jaci J.

3. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

“It use to be one that actually caused some sad thoughts (I associate it with my mom whom passed when I was 12), but more recently in the last year, it’s been helpful through those gnarly tough times.” — Sadye C.

4. “No Rain” by Blind Melon

“In conjunction with the music video, it was my first confirmation that I wasn’t alone in my feeling/being different than others around me. The realization that I wasn’t the only one suffering through the hells of mental illness changed my world. Every time I hear it on the radio, it feels like someone reaching out of the abyss and checking in on me. Even at my lowest, the song always makes me stop to appreciate the moment and remind myself that making it through the day is an accomplishment for many of us; we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for what we didn’t accomplish compared to others. Each of our journeys are different, with their own unique challenges.” — Angela S.

5. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley

“Always turn this on in times of need. It helped me so much I got it tattooed on my foot. ‘Cause every little thing’s gonna be alright.” — Amanda H.

6. “Dig” by Incubus

“It helps to put my mind back in focus… We all have issues, we all have struggles. Music is my voice when I cannot speak.” — Blake C.

7. “To Build A Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra

“It makes me feel happy, sad, longing… I don’t know. It’s consistently one of my favorites every time I find it again. It soothes my soul.” — Christine S.

8. “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas

9. “Boat On The River” by Styx

“[These songs] help me out a lot when I’m having a ‘bad day’ as I call them. I usually can’t get out of bed in these days and just stay under the covers in silence. When I play one or both of these songs I can either get out of bed and dance or at least sing out loud and move my feet (depending on how ‘bad’ the day is).” — Halee J.

10. “This Is How I Disappear” by My Chemical Romance

“They really help me through a lot. If my boyfriend knows I’m about to have a depressive episode, he puts these songs on straight away. The lyrics are so meaningful and really speak to me. They help stop the attack.” — Georgina L.

11. “Therapy” by All Time Low

“It’s a great song which helped me realized not being ‘OK’ is sometimes OK. Like, everyone falls for their demons, it’s an everyday fight/struggle and you have to accept who you are. ‘Give me therapy, I’m a walking travesty but I’m smiling at everything’ — one of the lines from the song even says so.” — Miya A.

12. “I Am Light” by India.Arie

“It’s very grounding. One line goes, ‘I am not the mistakes that I have made or any other thing that caused me pain.’ And India is such a bright spirit. Her music echoes compassion and love.” — Ann S.

13. “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion

“The lyrics show a clear dependency on another person, or as some people think, to the Heavenly Father. We all need to help each other get up off the ground. Depression makes you feel unworthy of help, and this song reminds me how important it is to ask for help.” — Melody A.

14. “Sober” by P!nk

“Has always had a soft spot in my heart when I become depressed and anxious. It reminds me that I can feel good when I’m ‘sober’ from hurting myself. It might not work the same with other people but it means a lot to me.” — Millie W.

15. “Fall For You” by Secondhand Serenade

“It takes me back to my high school days of being lonely and afraid, but the song just made me feel loved.” — Erica A.

16. “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum

“Parts of that song really explain how I feel sometimes. ‘Seems like I should be getting somewhere. Somehow I’m neither here nor there.’” — Shannon R.

17. “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter

“It’s been a good 12 or 13 years, and I still find so much positivity coming from that song when I listen to it.” — Park A.

18. “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adam

“It reminds me of warm summer days when I was younger and used to blast it with my dad.” — Esther N.

19. “How to Disappear Completely” by Radiohead

“It’s definitely a sad song, but at 12 years old it resonated with me very deeply. The line ‘I’m not here, this isn’t happening’ was a way for me to deal with depression and the letdowns of life.” — Sarah C.

20. “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone

“That song and her vocals always lifts my spirit just a little as well as her version of ‘Here Comes the Sun.’” — Donna B.

21. “Stand Up and Fight” by Turisas

“I’ve played this song more times than any other in the past six years. I cooked to it, I exercised to it, I cleaned my house to it and I also laid in bed and cried to it. It reminded me that even in my blackest days, I could still choose to stand up and fight. I didn’t have to be a victim of depression.” — Kati F.

22. “Black Orchid” by Blue October

“It is full of so much emotion, and it is comforting to know I can find similar emotions in a song such as what I am feeling in that moment or have felt at previous times.” — Krystal G.

23. “Last Hope” by Paramore

“It literally gives you what the title says, a strand of hope (that’s been missing). Its lyrics always make me feel more calm and bring tears to my eyes.” — Konstantine P.

24. “My Ever Changing Moods” by The Style Council

“It is adequately titled but it’s also the song that triggered my repressed memories of abuse. I’m thankful to it because I’d be in a worse place without it.” — Marc A.

25. “Konstantine” by Something Corporate

“It tells a history of a lifetime of mismatching and hardships, but that all can be handled if you’ve got that one person in your life who won’t go away no matter how hard it gets.” — Livia S.

26. “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson

“Also just happens to be my favorite song of all time. This song has inspired me to get through some of the most challenging days.” — Mitch F.

27. “Stars” by Hum

“It has always touched me in such a deep way through the beautiful sounds of the guitar and the relaxed manner it is sung in. The tempo picks up mid way and it begins to show some optimism through the drums and the rhythm. Just a beautiful song overall.” — Tiffany L.

28. “Come What May” from “Moulin Rouge”

“It reminds me of going over to my best friend’s house for sleepovers and watching musicals all night. It’s one of those songs that makes you feel despair and hope all at the same time. I like that it doesn’t try to make me feel like I am going to get up and dance, but just that there’s hope in hard times.” — Erin L.

29. “How Does It Feel” by Avril Lavigne

“When I was younger, I’d listen to it all the time, not realizing how strong the lyrics are, and listening to it now just takes me back to when I was 10 or 11. Even back then I knew something wasn’t right with me and that I felt different than the kids I grew up with. Now, being older and having gone through therapy and taken meds for my mental disorders, that song just feels so much more meaningful. It brings tears to my eyes almost every time I listen to it, but it’s a good feeling knowing that I wasn’t wrong when it came to how I felt when I was a kid…” — Kaity S.

30. “Her Diamonds” by Rob Thomas

“He wrote the song about his wife and her battles with chronic illness so it definitely hits home.” — Tiffany K.

31. “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” by Whitney Houston

“This has been my daily theme song lately to remind me I’m a lot stronger than I feel sometimes and I owe it to myself to show it.” — Louise M.

32. “Someone’s Watching Over Me” by Hilary Duff

“Pretty sure she’s all I listened to from age 10-12. No shame, she still makes the playlist at 22.”  — Kacie S.

33. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

“Has been my number one calming song since high school. My chorus class sang it one year, and I’ve heard of it before, but the feeling of belting out that song was so freeing that every time I sing it now I can’t help but feel better. One time, when I was in the hospital, I started having a panic attack and one of the nurses brought me into a separate room to try to calm me. She couldn’t figure out how, but suddenly she asked me if music helped, and I said yes, and she pulled out her phone and played that song. Sure enough, it calmed my anxiety. Just listening to it — hearing the drums and Freddie Mercury singing and the guitar and the bass… all of it grounds me and brings me back to the world. It starts out with confusion: ‘Is this the real life or is this just fantasy?’ and ends with everything being OK: ‘Nothing really matters,’ and that’s how I feel before and after listening to that song. Life is [wild] regardless, but music makes it much easier.” — Becky R.

34. “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

“It was also played at a friend’s funeral and it just always sticks with me. I love to listen and sing to it, it’s a great reminder that there are demons (internal or not) that you can conquer, nothing can keep you down!” — Trisha K.

35. “Freedom Call” by Freedom Call

“Sometimes you need an anthemic explosion of positive energy to help you out.” — Scott S.

36. “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos

“One of those songs that sounds like it was written about you.” — Alohna C.

37. “Mad World” by Tears For Fears

“Reminds me I am not alone in how I feel, therefore my normal is normal to others too. Been listening to that song for over 30 years and still feel comfort in knowing it will pass.” — Sarah-Jane E.

38. “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson

“Especially what he says at the end of the song… the song itself has helped me feel less alone and said what I had been feeling at the times I played it. It’s a song that works for me as it’s personally relatable and it soothes me especially when I’m thinking my loved ones who have passed away.” — Kit Maree

39. “Fix You” by Coldplay

“Remembering that everyone has someone who has the potential to change the way you feel. ‘When you try your best but you don’t succeed, when you get what you want but not what you need, stuck in reverse. High up above or down below, when your too in love to let it go, but if you never try you’ll never know just what you’re worth.’” — Vicky C.

40. “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac

“Super throwback! It’s all about remembering that tomorrow will be better and yesterday is in the past and can’t be changed.” — Kassidy P.

41. “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” by A Day To Remember

“When I was angry and done with everything, it made me realize I don’t really hate where I am, I hated the situations I was in and needed to change the course of my life.” — Stephanie T.

42. “Fade to Black” by Metallica

“The lyrics so perfectly sum up how I feel, and somehow it’s comforting hearing someone else say it, plus musically it’s beautiful.” — Clare E.

43. “Comes and Goes in Waves” by Greg Laswell

“It’s hard not to tear up every time I hear it. It reminds me to hold on in the hardest moments because life is an ebb and flow pattern. And Greg Laswell is just an amazing artist as well.” — Rebecca P.

44. “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin

“I don’t know why but whenever the triggers begin this song sort of snaps me back long enough to remember to breathe.” — Summer L.

What “throwback” song helps you through difficult times? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published: October 5, 2017
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