Top 10 Songs About Mental Health and Depression

mental health songs1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year. 1 in 6 people reports experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. If this is something that affects you, you're not alone and you're not unusual. There should be no stigma attached to having a mental health problem, any more than any other kind of health issue.

This is a collection of songs from artists who have been and are going through the same thing. It's a varied selection of personal perspectives.

Below, we list 10 of the best songs about mental health.

If you want to talk to someone about mental health issues, whether your own or a loved one, the NHS has a list of helplines here.

Gaz Brookfield, "Black Dog Day"

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We start with Gaz Brookfield's exploration of the feelings that depression brings. It's a very powerful account which leaves no aspect uncovered, and it's an excellent start to this list. For those that have never had an issue with depression, I don't know of a better introduction to a condition that "requires neither catalyst or cause."

Pulp, "The Fear"

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If Britpop was all about the high, "The Fear" was its inevitable comedown. A glimpse into Cocker's soul at the time, it was the sound of a man achieving the dream he'd always dreamt of and finding out it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Derided at the time, largely by music critics who didn't want to give up the cocaine-fuelled dystopia of Britpop, it's a song ripe for rediscovery.

The Velvet Underground, "After Hours"

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All the previous hip rock star swagger of The Velvet Underground had faded by their self-titled third album, to be replaced by a kind of careful fragility. This, the closing track, is arguably the culmination of that process. Less direct than the previous two tracks, it leaves itself somewhat open to interpretation. But it at least seems to be about the temptation to shut yourself off from the outside world, choosing the safety of social isolation.

Lydia Loveless, "More Like Them"

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There's a lot going on here. Agoraphobia and social isolation run through the song, but it's the first of our songs that recognises how maladaptive some coping mechanisms can be with "gallons of wine." It manages to combine defiance and despair and recognises that it can be difficult to live with someone like that.

Eels – Novocaine for the Soul

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Eels' lead singer E has written many songs that would fit into this list and this is his best known. Novocaine is a powerful anaesthetic, used in dentistry. So in this song E is wishing for a similar drug, but one that works on the soul and deadens painful emotions.

Rilo Kiley, "A Better Son/Daughter"

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A song about dealing with Bipolar Syndrome, there was no way this wouldn't make this list. It describes both the highs and the lows of the condition in unflinching detail. At no point, however, does it give into despondency. Quite the opposite, at its heart this is a defiant song which ends with a message of hope: "You’re weak but not giving in, And you’ll fight it, You’ll go out fighting all of them."

The Wombats, "Anti D"

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The Wombats have never shied away from talking about their depression openly. This deeply personal and introspective track describes frontman Matthew Murphy's experiences of choosing to come off Citalopram. Murphy has found that psychotherapy has helped greatly with his depression, but it's important to note that he isn't against antidepressants and recognises that for some people they're the right decision.

AJJ, "Brave as a Noun"

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AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad) are another band who have mental health as a recurring theme in their work. "Brave as a Noun" tackles depression and agoraphobia in a deceptively jaunty musical fashion. When the singer sings, "If this is how you folks make art than it's fucking depressing," it's entirely possible he's talking to himself.

Television Personalities, "Sick Again"

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Television Personalities' frontman Dan Treacy has been through a lot, with a combination of drug addiction, mental health issues and a criminal lifestyle leading to a 6 year incarceration for theft. It's this experience that led to the release of the remarkable My Dark Places. “Sick Again” is Treacy's attempt to explain his issues. It's somewhat uncomfortable listening (the entire album feels like you're intruding on someone's personal trauma) but it's phenomenal.

Nick Drake, "Black Eyed Dog"

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We end with Nick Drake, whose struggles with depression and schizophrenia are well documented. "Black Eyed Dog" is more symbolic than many of the songs on this list, but it's none the worse for it. Lyrically sparse, it's perhaps the rest of this list distilled down to its basic elements.

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