Top 80 Songs About Depression and What Inspired Them

This page lists 80 songs about depression from the past several decades. Information has also been included about the background of the song, such as its inspiration or how it has been interpreted by others.

"After All" - Dar Williams

Best songs about Depression
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Speaking to American Songwriter magazine in 2012, Dar Williams described depression as "a winter machine that you go through and then, you catch your breath and winter starts again." This song describes her recovery from depression.

"Any Man in America" - Blue October

This is the title track from an album chronicling the events in singer Justin Furstenfeld's life as he went through a custody battle over his daughter and ended up being admitted to a mental hospital following a breakdown on a plane.

"Beautiful World" - Carolina Liar

Chad Wolf explained the inspiration for this song - his friend's bipolar disorder - in publicity materials for the band: "Every day when the sun came up, it was constant anxiety - something he couldn't deal with, yet here it comes every morning. It's like watching the news every day. Sometimes you have to lie to yourself and pretend that the world is a beautiful place, when what lies on the other side is just madness."

"Come Around" - Counting Crows

Adam Duritz told Rolling Stone magazine: "'Come Around' is very much about you've come through all this s--t and everyone's still here. So let's go play. Let's go play rock & roll. It's not about life being fine. It's just that, it's not fine, and I'm still not going anywhere. My life in the '90s, it just didn't seem bad then. After the Millennium, things started to seem really darker to me in L.A."

"Crazy City" - Barclay James Harvest

This song expresses the need to get away from the stresses of modern life.

"Creep" - Radiohead

Thom York expresses feelings of being in love - but not feeling good enough for the other person - in this song.

"Crescent Noon" - The Carpenters

This piece by The Carpenters seems to refer to seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression which is experienced mainly during the winter months.

"Cruel Guards" - The Panics

Singer and songwriter Jae Laffer told The Independent on May 22, 2009 that he wrote this tune during a time of depression related to a relationship.

"Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car" - U2

There seems to be a bit of controversy about what this song was intended to mean, but reportedly Bono has said that it's a metaphor for Jesus saving people from their sins.

"Deliver Us from Evil" - Bullet For My Valentine

In an interview with Metal Hammer magazine, Matt Tuck said: "Lyrically, it is very dark. It's about the crap around my throat. How bitter and depressed I was that time, thinking that I will never be able to be the frontman of this band again because I didn't think I can sing."

"Don't Cry Daddy" - Elvis Presley

It's not clear whether this song had any particular inspiration, but it is about a man who is grieving the loss of his wife.

"Down The Drain" - Marcy Playground

In an interview with Songfacts, John Wozniak explained his motivation for writing the song: "My head was really close to being blown off. I was exceedingly depressed, and I didn't really know what was going on with me. I had issues that needed to be dealt with. I had never really been depressed like that. I didn't even know what it was. I just found myself in a really bad space."

"Electro-Shock Blues" - Eels

The sister of Mark Everett, the lead singer, spent several years in and out of mental institutions prior to her 1996 suicide. This song makes reference to an exercise that one of her doctors asked her to perform: writing "I am OK" a hundred times.

"Faithless" - Black Country Communion

Lead vocalist Glenn Hughes wrote this song in reference to a period in his musical career when he was battling alcohol and drug addiction and had lost his faith in God.

"Fell On Black Days" - Soundgarden

Chris Cornell wrote this about a period during his teenage years when he suffered from depression.

"Found" - The Love Kills Theory

Said Cevin Soling, the primary writer on this song: "This deals with depression...and the desperate hope for escape all while the possibilities for escape are perpetually self-sabotaged. There is an earnest recognition of the tremendous beauty that is at the core of the person that seeks to be freed, and that is the great tragedy in the literal sense of the word."

"From The Morning" - Nick Drake

This is one of the last songs written by Nick Drake before he overdosed on antidepressants.

"Good Times" - Marcy Playground

In an interview with Songfacts, lead singer John Wozniak said: "'Good Times' is a song about self-soothing, when you're feeling depressed and can't get out of bed. I wrote that song as a self-soothing song to myself. Everything's gonna be okay… it's a really simple message."

"Half Mile Hill" - David Nail

Nail said of this song: "To me, 'Half Mile Hill' is about finding yourself and coming to the crossroads where you look back and you go, 'That moment in my life sucked, and maybe in this moment I'm miserable, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and all of this is going to make me a stronger person.'"

"Healer" - Rumer

This song documents Rumer's journey through grief following her loss of her mother to cancer.

"Here Comes The Rain Again" - Eurythmics

In The Dave Stewart Songbook, Stewart explained: "I'd been out on 46th Street and bought an early Casio keyboard, about 20 inches long with very small keys. It was an overcast day. Annie (Lennox) was sitting in my room, and I was playing some little riff on the keyboard sitting on the window ledge, and I was playing these little melancholy A minor-ish chords with the B note in it. I kept on playing this riff, and Annie was looking out the window at the slate grey sky above the New York skyline and just sang spontaneously, 'Here Comes The Rain Again.' And that was all we needed. you see, like with a lot of our songs, you only need to start with that one line, and that one atmosphere, that one note, or that intro melody. And the rest of it was like a puzzle where we needed to just fill in the missing pieces."

"I Don't Feel Very Receptive Today" - UnderOath

The lead singer, Spencer Chamberlain, has been rumored to have talked about his depression and difficult childhood at concerts and this song is said to be about his experiences with depression.

"I Don't Know" - Ozzy Osbourne

Here, Ozzy sings about his depression and uncertainty about the future after getting kicked out of his band, Black Sabbath.

"I Wish It Would Rain" - The Temptations

The lyrics to this song where written by Motown staff writer Roger Penzabene after learning that his wife was cheating on him.

"I'll Find Me" - Steve Azar and Tony Colton

Co-writer Tony Colton was reportedly inspired by the death of his wife to cancer when he penned this song.

"Iceland" - Mary Chapin Carpenter

This song reflects a dark period in Carpenter's life when she become ill with blood clots in her lungs and couldn't go on tour. She was very depressed because she felt she had let everyone down.

"If It Makes You Happy" - Sheryl Crow

According to Crow, she felt a great of pressure for her sophomore album to match the success of its predecessor. These feelings inspired this song.

"Industrial Disease" - Dire Straits

This song deals with the strikes, depression and dysfunction associated with the decline of the British manufacturing industry in the eighties.

"Irvine" - Kelly Clarkson

Clarkson wrote this song in the bathroom of her dressing room while performing at the Irvine Wireless Ampitheatre and feeling overwhelmed. She says: "I had reached my lowest point. I thought: 'I don't want to smile or talk about myself, or do a photo shoot. I don't want to do anything.' Four or five years straight of doing this stuff caught up on me. Everyone wanted to keep it going and I couldn't. Even though I love my job, I couldn't do it all the time."

"King Of Pain" - The Police

Sting wrote this song during a period when he had separated from his first wife and was not getting along with the other members of the band.

"Laura Laurent" - Bright Eyes

Lead singer Conor Oberst wrote this song about his girlfriend Laura, who had depression.

"Lithium" - Nirvana

"Lithium" is said to be about a time during Cobain's life when he lived with a family of reformed Christians. In this song, Cobain compares living in this house to having bipolar disorder. Lithium is a medication used to treat this disorder.

"Lithium" - Evanescence

Amy Lee has been quoted as saying that this song is about taking the mood stabilizer lithium and losing the comfort of her sorrow, which she equated to losing a part of herself.

"Lost" - Gorilla Zoe

Zoe told MTV news: "People aren't joyful all day. I wanted to make a couple of songs that will touch people, make them say, 'Hey, man, I feel like that too.'"

"Mad World" - Tears for Fears

This song, written from the point of view of a young depressed person, talks about feeling out of place in the world and empty.

"Manic Depression" - Jimi Hendrix

It has been said that Hendrix was doing a press conference in London and his manager at the time, Chas Chandler, told him that he sounded like a manic depressive, prompting him to write "Manic Depression." However, there is no evidence that he actually suffered from this disorder, now referred to as bipolar disorder.

"Medication" - Silverstein

Frontman Shane Todd explained to Alternative Press magazine: "I was sitting around my girlfriend's house while she was at work, trying to come up with some ideas for a song. I've never really suffered from any kind of writer's block, but on this day, I felt I was getting close. After staring around the room for a while, I noticed a poster on her wall that said, 'Keep Calm and Carry On.' That got me thinking about depression, mental illness and how deeply people can become affected by it. Some people take drugs to cope, and it helps; other people are worse off. The song is about that."

"Mercy Street" - Peter Gabriel

This song is based upon a book of poems bearing the same name written by an American poet named Anne Sexton, who sometimes wrote poetry as a form of therapy.

"Misery" - The Gallows

Vocalist Frank Carter told Kerrang! magazine on April 18, 2009: "Simply put, I was at my lowest ebb probably that I have ever been in my life. I didn't wanna be around much anymore, and I wrote that song and it made me feel better."

"Mr Sunshine" - Barclay James Harvest

"Mr Sunshine" was the B Side of the band's first single, "Early Morning." It was said in the December 1996 issue of the fanzine Nova Lepidoptera to be about depression and sadness, which was the opposite of the A Side's mood.

"Mr. Saboteur" - The Yardbirds

Bass player Chris Dreja has said: "This is a song about depression, but even I don't really get that too much because we've Yardbirdized it to such an extent. It's just kind of a boogie-down, funk thing - a nice song to play for a live audience. I like the spatial quality of it."

"My Alibi" - Blindside

Lead singer Christian Lindskog told website "Hope is not what you have done - but in the relationships you have formed - it is being known. I went through a period of depression after coming back from South Africa all throughout the writing of this record. When we were writing this song, I was in the studio and Tomas was recording the bass part and the producer Lasse and I were dancing around the studio for fun. Then it stopped being funny and became a really powerful moment. I don't think Lasse or anyone else in that room noticed anything different but I felt the weight of depression lifting from me. Losing myself in that dance was a very special moment."

"Narcolepsy" - Third Eye Blind

This song appears to be about the depression associated with having the debilitating condition narcolepsy and trying to live a normal life.

"Never Enough" - Papa Roach

This song is about a person who is feeling depressed and overwhelmed by life.

"Never Thought" - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

Singer/songwriter Robert Clyne seems unwilling to put a label on the condition which inspired him to write this song, calling it a "depression-like mental illness."

"Not Alone" - McFly

Danny Jones wrote this when he was depressed in school.

"Only Happy When It Rains" - Rumer

Rumor has it that the band was sitting around playing acoustic guitars when the line "I'm only happy when it rains" came up and the rest of the song was built around it.

"Outside" - Staind

This is a song about addiction and withdrawal, written from the point of view of someone who is considering relapse.

"Paint It Black" - The Rolling Stones

This song was inspired by Ad Reinhardt's Black Paintings from the early 1960's, which were painted in shades of dark black only.

"Pavement Cracks" - Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox explained the song as: "I was deeply down...just trying to get through one day at a time, on the point of desperation on a regular basis. There was a feeling that all the color had gone...faded to black. I know the world is painful, but you have to try to work with pain so that it doesn't destroy you. I've moved on now. The color came back again."

"People Are Strange" - The Doors

Jim Morrison is said to have gone to Robby Krieger's house while depressed and they went to a canyon together to watch a sunset. This is when Jim came to the realization that he was depressed because "if you're strange, people are strange." He then wrote the rest of the lyrics based upon his feelings of depression and alienation.

"Poor Boy" - Nick Drake

In this song, Drake chides himself over his own depression and despair.

"Praying For Time" - George Michael

George Michael is quoted as saying: "No event inspired the song. It's my way of trying to figure out why it's so hard for people to be good to each other. I believe the problem is conditional as opposed to being something inherent in mankind. The media has affected everybody's consciousness much more than most people will admit. Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We're taught that you have to grab what you can before it's gone. It's almost as if there isn't time for compassion."

"R.I.T" - The Devil Wears Prada

Mike Hrancia explained to Alternative Press: "The idea of the song is taking an angle of depression in the form of a female."

"Rain" - Breaking Benjamin

Ben Burnley refuses to provide an explanation for the song's meaning, saying, “I want the listener to analyze my songs. I don’t want to do it myself. If someone thinks the song is about something and I come along and say, ‘No. The song is about this.’ I could ruin it for them.”

"Rain" - Trivium

On their website, lead singer Matt Heafy said: "'Rain' is a very personal track about the way I felt about life during a period where I spent much of my time alone - agonizing in anxiety and boredom, failed expectations and treachery from so many I confided in. It seemed like all the while that I was going through this, the whole world kept moving along, happy and content with itself. The last lines of the song are to the world's happiness personified- and all I wanted to do was to kill that happiness, choke out it's every last breath."

"Rainbow In The Dark" - Dio

Ronnie James Dio has said that his time as lead singer for Black Sabbath inspired this song and that he felt "lonely and rejected" when he left the band.

"Reflections Of My Life" - Marmalade

This song describes a man's sad reflections of his life and the time during which he lives.

"S.A.D. Light" - Glasvegas

James Allan explained to the Daily Record August 5, 2008: "That could be anything. A S.A.D light came as an idea because people look at S.A.D. lights to make them feel better. But it could be anything. If I need something to cheer me up I put on an Elvis Presley record so that could be your S.A.D. light."

"Save Me From Myself" - Vertical Horizon

Matt Scannell said of this song: "The reason I started writing songs, is I needed to get it out. And for me, the lyric and the chorus that I'm most proud of is, 'Save me from myself, I can't relate, we're mouth to mouth and still I suffocate.' It's like you have the beauty, you have the love, right in front of your face. It's almost the flip image for me of 'Everything You Want,' being on the outside on 'Everything You Want,' but here being on the inside in 'Save Me From Myself.' You've got that person who's there for you, who's breathing life into your body, and you're rejecting it. And whether that's coming from within or without is almost immaterial."

"Save Your Goodbye" - Mike Posner

Posner uses the language on a love song in his lyrics in order speak about his depression. In an interview with he explained: "I love tricking kids into listening to stuff like that. It's like you're reading Catcher in the Rye, but you don't know it."

"Save Your Scissors" - City and Colour

There seems to be some disagreement about whether this song is actually about depression, but some interpret it as being about a person who feels unworthy of love, that they cannot be changed and no one should waste their time trying.

"Screaming Infidelities" - Dashboard Confessional

This song is about a boy whose girlfriend has been unfaithful, but he still loves her and feels depressed about her infidelity.

"Sink Into The Underground" - CKY

Rumored to be about pro skateboarder Brandon Novak, this song deals with severe depression and drug abuse.

"Slippin' Into Darkness" - War

War drummer Harold Brown told "Howard (Scott, War guitarist) was working on some lyrics and he had this concept, thinking of how one could slip into darkness. Your mind could just go on, and you just go off to the left - you have to be careful, you have to say, 'Don't go there.' It's like that wall between sane and insane. We all figure we're sane, and once in a while we look past that wall, our head pops over and we look and we say, 'Here's Johnny.' I always like that. You look over there and you see certain things, and some of us have been known to go over there and stay, and there's some that pop their heads right back. Because that's just right on that borderline of sane, insane, and really close to being a genius."

"Something Is Squeezing My Skull" - Morrissey

Morrissey has battled depression since he was a teenager and this song appears to have been inspired by this.

"Sorrow" - Flyleaf

In an interview with Christian Music Planet, lead singer Lacey Mosley said: "One of the ones I think is important to play is 'Sorrow.' That's because in our day and age, there is such a huge number of people who deal with depression, or know someone who deals with depression. In the Bible, it says, 'Jesus was a man of sorrow.' On the secular side, there are people who deal with depression because they feel empty. On the Christian side, there are people who deal with depression because they feel alone with their Christianity or because they mess up. That's the spirit we're combating when we play it. The promise in the end is, 'Joy will come.'"

"Sorrow" - The National

Lead singer Matt Berninger explained the song to Spinner UK: "'Sorrow' is, in some ways, a person's relationship with their own sadness. In many ways they have a very loving and needy relationship with their sadness. That one's maybe not particularly about me - it's a little bit about Bryan our drummer, it's a little bit about my brother."

"Strawberry Gashes" - Jack Off Jill

"Strawberry Gashes" is a reference to cutting.

"Stuck Between Stations" - The Hold Steady

Craig Finn told Rolling Stone that this song arose from his awareness during a period of feeling better and wanting to take better care of himself that his change in mood might affect his creativity.

"Sway" - The Rolling Stones

This Rolling Stones tune dealt with being under the sway of depression and not being able to take pleasure in life.

"The Good That Won't Come Out" - Rilo Kiley

The general theme of this song is depression and feelings of guilt.

"The Infection" - Disturbed

Guitarist Dan Donegan told "Some songs just depend on how I feel that day. For 'The Infection' I was so pumped up from the opening of the riff and just kind of that high-energy riff that by the time we got to that middle section because of the adrenalin rush and the excitement from the energy from the previous parts, I felt like riffing into that. I felt like going into maybe a longer [section.] It's probably the longest or one of the longer extended solos on this body of work."

"Twilight" - Vanessa Carlton

Carlton wrote this song when she was attending the School of American Ballet and was depressed over the fact that she felt she did not fit in.

"Under A Cloud" - The Bangles

Guitarist/vocalist Susanna Hoffs said in an interview with "It's kind of the real deal about LA, that despite the shiny exterior and sunshine, people are just as depressed here as they are anywhere. I had seen an ad on TV for an antidepressant, one where this woman is holding an umbrella even though it's all sunny outside. The image really stuck with me."

"Unhappy is the Only Happy That You'll Ever Be" - Matt Pryor

According to Matt Pryor: "I've had that phrase; my friend, James Dewees, who plays keyboards in the Get Up Kids, said that one time. He was talking about somebody specifically, but I can't remember who it was at the time. But it's talking about how there's always people who are happiest when they're complaining about something, or can't ever stop and find the joy in anything - it's just always something. And so he said that, and I thought it was a good line. So I wrote it down on my phone (laughing) and it was there for a year. And I kept going, 'Oh, yeah, that's a good name for a song.'"

"Valium Skies" - The Verve

In an interview with BBC, lead singer Richard Ashcroft explained: "The term Valium Skies has been in my mind for ten, fifteen years. You get them all over the country but back home, up North, sometimes that grey, grey, grey cloud seems so low you can almost touch it and, but it was also a metaphor for depression and it's about being with someone who recognizes almost where you can go, how dark you can go but still is with you."

"What I Really Meant To Say" - Cyndi Thomson

Speaking about what motivates his song writing, Tommy Lee James has said: "I'm not a depressed person, I tend to be a very happy person." But "I tend to love those bittersweet things that kind of rip your heart out."

"White Room" - Cream

Said Pete Brown: "It was a miracle it worked, considering it was me writing a monologue about a new flat."

"Wonderful" - Gary Go

In an interview with Safe Davis, Gary Go said: "I wrote it on my favorite piano at my favorite studio in New Jersey USA, right by where that miracle plane landing happened recently on the Hudson river. I was feeling down and I wrote the song about feeling down and finding a way out of the darkness."


Songfacts. Songfacts, LLC. Accessed: January 25, 2016.

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