The impact of music on emotional well-being has gained considerable attention. The experts at our residential mental health facilities are diving into the therapeutic potential of songs for depression, a complex and debilitating mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities. By exploring the impact of music on mental health, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how music can serve as a valuable aid to conventional treatment approaches. By examining specific songs and their emotional resonance, we hope to shed light on the potential of music as a tool in the treatment of depression.
What Is Music’s Effects on Mental Health?
The effects of music on mental illness have been the subject of extensive research for decades. Understanding these effects can shed light on music’s therapeutic potential in helping individuals with mental health challenges, including depression.
Music’s effects on mental health include:
- Emotional regulation: Music can modify emotions, evoking a wide range of feelings, from joy and happiness to sadness and nostalgia. For individuals with depression, certain songs can help regulate and stabilize how they feel.
- Stress reduction: Listening to calming music can also reduce stress and anxiety levels. This effect is attributed to music’s ability to lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone, and promote relaxation.
- Enhanced mood: Upbeat and cheerful music can elevate mood and promote feelings of happiness. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals struggling with persistent low mood associated with depression.
- Social connections: Music is often a social activity, and participating in musical activities such as group singing or playing instruments can foster a sense of belonging and social connection.
- Distraction and coping: Music can distract from negative thoughts and emotions, offering people with depression a healthier way to cope with their feelings.
- Self-expression: Songwriting and musical expression can be freeing, allowing individuals to articulate and process their emotions creatively and constructively.
- Neurological effects: Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that music can activate various regions of the brain associated with emotion processing, memory, and reward. This neurobiological response highlights the importance of music for emotional balance.1
- Improved sleep: Depression can impact sleep, but listening to calming music before bedtime can improve sleep quality and duration.
- Motivation and engagement: Music with a fast tempo can motivate and engage listeners, helping them overcome the lethargy and lack of interest often associated with depression.
- Complementary therapy: While not a standalone treatment for depression, music can complement conventional psychotherapy services, enhancing overall outcomes.
Our Banyan facilities for mental health offer music therapy as a part of our complementary services to engage clients and aid in their recovery.
Songs for Depression and Anxiety
Everyone has that one song that they can listen to on repeat for hours. As a mental therapy center that utilizes music in treatment to help patients cope with depression symptoms, we understand how listening to songs for depression can benefit recovery.
The goal when choosing depression songs is to provide comfort, solace, and a sense of resonance with the emotional experiences associated with symptoms. Below are some songs about depression that have been acknowledged for their potential to offer support and understanding:
“Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty
The first few lines of the song immediately describe the person’s sense of loneliness and lack of energy. Lyrics like “all night hearing voices tellin' me that I should get some sleep because tomorrow might be good for somethin'” illustrate the hopelessness about the future often felt by people with depression. The rest of the song goes on to display the person’s determination to convince the listener that they aren’t “crazy” or sick, just “unwell.”
This song may mimic the thoughts and feelings of many people with depression and mental disorders. Most with these conditions have experienced what it’s like to be “headed for a breakdown,” and sometimes songs that talk about what we’re going through or have gone through help us feel like we aren’t alone.
“Better Place” by Rachel Platten
Fun fact: When Rachel Platten recorded her music video for “Better Place,” she wanted to conduct a sort of social experiment in which her fans were recorded listening to the song. She was able to watch these recordings on her own to see how her song impacted her fans.
The song opens up with the lyrics, “I'll tell the world, I'll sing a song. It's a better place since you came along,” and goes on to shed love and support to the listeners. “Better Place” is a reminder of how important and loved you are, and lines like “it's a better place since you came along” offer comfort to its listeners, reminding them that they are loved, they are important, and they are not alone.
“Screen” by Twenty One Pilots
This song describes the person as having a screen on their chest that displays their thoughts and emotions, making it impossible for them to hide their feelings from others. With lyrics like, “there's some people and I who have a really tough time getting through this life,” and “we’re broken people,” the song also acts as an anthem of support for those who feel this way, too.
“Last Hope” by Paramore
“Last Hope” is a song about depression that hits the nail on the head for many people when it comes to describing what having depression is like. It describes the ebb and flow of depression symptoms that many can relate to, starting with the idea of needing to let go of control, hitting a good place, and then experiencing another low.
The song describes these changes in mood with these lyrics, “I don't even know myself at all. I thought I would be happy by now. The more I try to push it I realize. Gotta let go of control,” and “Every night I try my best to dream. Tomorrow makes it better. Then I wake up to the cold reality. And not a thing has changed.”
“Heavy” by Linkin Park
Chester Bennington, Linkin Park’s former lead singer, became the voice of so many who struggle with mental illness. While his untimely death broke the hearts of many, he left behind a legacy in his music that’s helped many overcome depression.
Among their many other songs about depression and anxiety, “Heavy” is one of those Linkin Park songs that accurately describe the loss of control, sadness, overthinking, and confusion caused by depression. It’s another song that people with depression can relate to and find comfort in the fact that they aren’t alone in how they feel.
“1-800-273-8255” by Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid
“1-800-273-8255” was titled after a suicide prevention hotline, and rightfully so. The song is about suicidal thoughts and how isolating they can seem. It is accompanied by a music video that depicts a teenager who has friends, popularity, and family, but still feels disconnected and is contemplating suicide.
This is a feeling that many people with depression can relate to. However, while the song starts on a heartbreaking note, its primary focus is to offer support to those who are contemplating suicide.
“Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
Sung by the talented Lady Gaga, “Million Reasons” is a powerful song about the power of one good reason over the millions of reasons for feeling doubtful, discouraged, and hopeless. The song encourages listeners to find the light at the end of the tunnel, to find that one good reason to keep fighting when there are a million other reasons to quit.
“Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia
Another powerful singer, Sia, captivated her fans when she came out with the song “Titanium.” If you don’t know what titanium is, it’s a highly strong metal that’s resistant to seawater corrosion and other elements, which is why it’s the perfect name for this song.
With song lyrics like, “You shoot me down, but I won't fall. I am titanium,” Sia encourages her listeners to think of themselves as titanium, invincible against inner and outer forces that threaten to harm them. Whether it’s depression or any other mental illness, the idea of being “stone-hard as bulletproof glass” can be a much-needed boost of confidence in tough times.
"Lean On Me" by Bill Withers
This classic song delivers a message of support and unity, underlining the importance of leaning on others during difficult times.
"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
This socially conscious song addresses various challenges, making it relatable for individuals struggling with feelings of confusion and distress.
It's important to note that while music can provide emotional support to individuals with depression, it is not a substitute for professional mental health treatment. These songs can serve as a complementary tool to therapy and medication when dealing with depression and anxiety. Additionally, individual preferences and emotional responses to music may vary, so individuals should choose songs that personally resonate with their experiences with mental illness.
Treatment for Depression
While songs for depression recovery can be a source of comfort in dark times, they aren’t the solution. If you notice any signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, you should seek out mood disorder treatment right away.
Banyan Mental Health offers care for a variety of disorders, ranging from depression to anxiety to schizophrenia. If you need depression treatment or any other form of care, we’re here to help. Whether you’re actively looking for care or just need someone to talk to, we’re here.
Call Banyan Treatment Centers anytime at 888-280-4763 or contact us online for a one-on-one consultation.
- National Library of Medicine - Review on Neural Correlates of Emotion Regulation and Music: Implications for Emotion Dysregulation
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