Millions of people struggle with anxiety every day. Yet, when you’re in the middle of an anxious episode, it often feels like you’re all alone. Whether you’re sitting awake at night, thoughts racing through your mind, or feeling the weight of worry in your stomach in the middle of the day, anxiety can strike at any time in many forms.
Music and mental health are intimately linked. Many of us find relief through music and music therapy is a major part of many modern counseling sessions. It can be nice to listen to songs that have nothing to do with anxiety just to get your mind off of your problems. However, it’s also extremely cathartic to listen to songs about the very problems you’re experiencing.
To help you find songs that might give you some relief, here’s a list of anxiety-themed songs. After the list, we’ll do a bit of a deeper dive into certain songs and artists.
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
Few songs are as timeless and beautiful as “Fast Car.” It seems like no matter how far removed we are from the day she released the song, its messages are still as relatable as ever: concerns about the future, worries about caring for our loved ones, and—of course—anxiety about money. Chapman’s heavy account of life hits you right in the heart every time.
“Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by The Geto Boys
For people not familiar with the genre, ‘90s rap may seem full of aggression and gloating, but that’s merely what sits on the surface. Many artists took the art form and discussed deeper issues, including mental health. In “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” rappers Bushwick Bill, Scarface, and Willie D all describe symptoms of anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Scarface even drops lines about his time in a psychiatric ward after attempting to harm himself.
“Breathin'” by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has openly talked about her anxiety for many years, but it worsened dramatically following the Manchester Arena bombing. While this song is deeply personal to Grande—she even experienced panic attacks while recording it—anyone who has had experiences with anxiety will be able to relate to the lyrics. After all, sometimes all we can do is just focus on breathing.
“Michael in the Bathroom” from Be More Chill
Many Broadway fans are probably already familiar with this standout number from the hit musical Be More Chill. Don’t worry if you don’t know the play; the song provides all the context you need. If you’ve had problems with anxiety, you’ve probably hidden yourself away in a bathroom just to get some peace, only to realize you’ve been in there way too long. As Michael’s emotions ebb and flow through the song, you’ll probably relate to his experiences more and more.
“Help!” by The Beatles
Arguably the most famous example of a song about anxiety, “Help!” is exactly what its title suggests: a cry for help. Specifically, “Help!” is about the shift from the self-assuredness of being a teenager to the endless unknowns of adulthood. John Lennon described this as one of the most “true” songs he’d ever written as all of the anxieties from the song were ones he had felt himself.
Exploring Lesser-Known Songs Addressing Anxiety
Sometimes the popularity of a song can take away the weight of the words or meaning. After all, if you’ve heard it a thousand times, it usually doesn’t hit you in the same way. The following songs are a bit lesser-known, allowing you to fully lose yourself in the words.
“24/7” by Kehlani
Kehlani cuts right to the heart of issues like anxiety and depression in this song, letting the listener know that, “It’s okay to not be okay.” Kehlani is no stranger to mental health struggles and was hospitalized in 2016 following a suicide attempt. She reassures you that everyone has days where they feel like they can’t go on. Nobody has perfect mental health 24/7, so you can make it through this just like she did.
“Do I Worry” by the Ink Spots
Unless you’re a historian or an older adult, your only exposure to the Ink Spots is through throwback media—such as the Fallout games. However, no matter how old the song may be, the experiences are universal. “Do I Worry” is about all those little anxieties you experience while in a relationship: worrying about your partner, who they’re with, what they’re up to, and if they’re thinking of you. If the Ink Spots’ original doesn’t do it for you, Ol’ Blue Eyes—AKA Frank Sinatra—has a beautiful rendition.
“Happy & Sad” by Kacey Musgraves
Anxiety is rarely simple. It strikes at the strangest times, but it often coexists with our other feelings. Musgraves touches on this in her song “Happy & Sad,” mentioning how she’s afraid that the happy period she’s currently in is soon to fade. So many people are unable to feel perfectly happy in the moment, because they, too, know it will end at some point.
“Anxiety” by Megan Thee Stallion
Megan may be one of the biggest stars in the world, but this song slipped under a lot of people’s radars. In this song, Megan raps about feeling trapped under the weight of her fame and the expectations other people have for her. While most of us can’t relate to the first bit, the latter is something that affects many of us. She drops many relatable bars, such as “They keep sayin’ I should get help/But I don’t even know what I need.” Hearing someone who usually seems so confident being so vulnerable makes the words hit even harder.
Artists Who Express Anxiety in Their Music
Though many artists have released a few songs about anxiety, there are a few who return to it as a source of inspiration again and again. For those individuals who also experience anxiety throughout their lives, finding artists who have the same problems can be a massive relief.
The modern view of everyone’s favorite Starman is a bit warped due to the lens of time. Many people think of Bowie purely as his boisterous glam rock alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. However, Bowie struggled with his mental health and touched on the subject many times, though often in subtle ways. Perhaps the biggest example of this was his collaboration with Queen, “Under Pressure.” But these themes appeared in songs like “Changes” and “Always Crashing in the Same Car.”
When it comes to raising anxiety awareness through music, Demi Lovato might be one of the best modern examples. She has been extremely transparent about her issues with addiction, as well as conditions like depression and anxiety. From “Sober” and “OK Not to Be OK” to “Tell Me You Love Me” and “Skyscraper,” Lovato discusses a range of different types of anxiety that have affected many other people.
After checking himself into rehab because of suicidal urges, Kid Cudi intentionally became much more transparent about his mental health. He openly stated, “Anxiety and depression have ruled my life” and mentioned how they would even prevent him from leaving his house. “Day ‘N’ Nite” is probably the song people know best, but many of his works have themes of battling anxiety. Special mentions go to “Soundtrack 2 My Life” and “Tequila Shots.”
If you or someone you know has trouble with anxiety, you’re not alone. When anxiety becomes difficult to deal with, reaching out to a professional you can trust can help. At Restore Mental Health, our experts are dedicated to helping people with anxiety learn to manage their condition. Contact us today to see how we can help you.