Being afraid is something everyone can identify with, and that feeling manifests itself in some really great songs about fear. Anxiety comes in many forms and almost every variation has been addressed in a song.
Some would think that celebrities live a nice and perfect life, but some of us don’t realize that they are human and feel like we all do. That’s why there are a lot of sad songs, that come from singers who personally experience hardships in their lives. Even today, there are topics that people tend to shy away from, like mental illness and how serious it is. They give a voice to those who may be afraid to speak their mind.
These great artists have opened their hearts and given us songs that deal with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
All songs can be listened to in full directly here. You can also find a Spotify playlist at the end of the article.
1. Breathin’ – Ariana Grande
If you’ve ever had a panic attack in public, you’ve probably been told to breathe by the people around you. This song by Ariana Grande is an ode to that – to the feeling of being overwhelmed and overwhelming that leads to not being able to focus on anything more than your breathing.
The song also deals with the complexity of life that makes you feel overwhelmed, especially the feeling that just one thing going well can at least temporarily alleviate all your problems.
2. In My Blood – Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes is one of the youngest, most popular, and talented male singers of this generation. He has written numerous songs and albums that have charted.
Yet he is not safe from life’s challenges. He recently made his experience with anxiety known when he released his song “In My Blood”.
This song makes us aware of the challenges that people with anxiety go through. If you’re someone who’s been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or someone who feels down and anxious, music can help us recognize that we may be feeling that way. These songs remind us that we will get through it and that there is always someone who can understand us.
3. Anxiety – Anna Clendening
In this catchy pop ballad from 2019, YouTube star Anna Clendening describes the irony of appearing emotionally stable on the surface but falling apart on the inside. Beneath her painted-on smile, her anxious thoughts are racing.
Anxiety is the unwanted center of her world, which has brought her panic attacks, pills, and therapy bills. Clendening suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.
4. Sober – Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato has basically grown up before our eyes. From her teen shows and movies to her successful music career, Demi inspired many young girls and guys alike. But with everything that happened in her life while she was growing up, it’s really hard not to fall into things that could affect her life in the long run.
She even released a documentary on her YouTube channel that shows us her struggles with substance abuse. She was also known to go through bullying and self-harm when she was younger. The documentary shows their continuous progress in the fight against addiction.
The song “Sober,” serves as a confession of her relapse into drug addiction after not using drugs for five years.
It’s her message of apology to all the people who have seen and followed her struggles with mental health, including her family, friends, and fans. It shows what she is still going through and how hard it is for her to know that many people are rooting for her.
5. Not Afraid – Eminem
“I’m not afraid to take a stand. Come on everyone, take my hand, we will walk this path together through the storm.”
Speaking of setbacks, here’s a music artist who’s been through a lot. This song was written after Eminem overcame his drug addiction and began his journey to healing.
The song encourages listeners to take the rapper’s hand and get through the journey.
6. Help – The Beatles
Help is an iconic song by an iconic band, but it’s also a song that is very easy to Performer as a song about feelings of fear. The feeling of helplessness and the resulting gratitude that many feel when someone takes notice is shown in this song, with the catchy lyrics hiding a lot of pain.
Even Paul McCartney has confirmed that the lyrics are based on real-life, giving listeners a glimpse into the emotions behind the song.
7. Overwhelmed – Royal & The Serpent
Indie pop artist Royal & The Serpent (aka Ryan Santiago) perfectly captures the fear of the pandemic in this song from 2020, though ironically the song was written two years earlier. Job loss, social isolation, and the threat of eviction/no more money all contribute to rising anxiety levels.
“Overwhelmed” describes being plagued by anxiety because you are overstimulated by excessive sights and sounds. The result is that you are emotionally incapacitated, feel out of control and out of your body, and it seems like you can’t take a breath. People without anxiety will tell you to just “calm down,” “relax,” or “chill out”.
If only it were that simple!
8. Save Myself – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran has created some of the most beautiful love songs of this generation. But this song in particular is rather sad and emotional.
It’s about giving so much to other people and the world while forgetting about yourself. It’s a beautiful song that can help us realize that in this world that sometimes tries to drag us down and demands so much of us, we also need to take care of ourselves and prioritize our own happiness. People with depression feel that they are not enough and that they are not important. They would feel less important and mostly focus on other people while ignoring the suffering they themselves carry.
It’s a wonderful thing that this song exists because it helps us understand people in this situation. This song also makes us realize our own mental state and hopefully treat ourselves a little better.
9. Crawling – Linkin Park
Many of Linkin Park’s lyrics deal with depression and anxiety, but few are as haunting as Crawling. With its evocative lyrics, the song hits the feeling of discomfort that many have in their own skin, with the pain of anxiety creating a constant wound that never seems to go away.
Driven and angry, it’s also a song about fear, mourning less the lack of normal processes and more the rage against the feelings themselves.
10. Anxiety – Julia Michaels feat. Selena Gomez
Singers Julia Michaels and Selena Gomez know anxiety from personal experience and joke about their mental challenges in this pop song from 2019. You can feel the uneasiness in the voice of the song narrator.
She feels irritable, restless and suffers from insomnia. Her mind races and she avoids socializing, cancels plans with friends, and laments that people don’t understand what it’s like to experience such anxiety. Time to get help. Anxiety is very treatable.
11. Fake Happy – Paramore
“After Laughter” is perhaps Paramore’s most honest and emotional album to date. The songs on the album are more about emotions and thoughts that we don’t usually like to hear from mainstream music. Just like some of the songs on this album, “Fake Happy” is sad, deep, and kind of depressing. Still, it’s nicely packaged with a happy upbeat melody.
The song starts with a few lines of a sad, slow melody that directly expresses the emotions of the song and continues with the upbeat dance melody in the first verse. The song is about depression and how we try to hide our sadness from the world. One of the most beautiful points in the song is when the lyrics make it clear that we are all somehow going through the same thing.
The song reminds us that maybe it is not good to pretend. Life can be cruel and sad, but there’s no other way to deal with the world without expressing your true feelings.
12. Basket Case – Green Day
Green Day has a number of songs in their catalog that deal with depression or other malaise, and “Basket Case” is one of the best of them. The song uses a simple musical structure to take the listener on a fast-paced journey through the singer’s anxieties – from wondering if he’s giving away too much of himself to all the failed attempts to manage his fears.
If you’ve ever tried self-help measures to overcome your anxiety, you’ll probably find something here that you can relate to.
13. Be OK – Ingrid Michaelson
When you’re anxious, tired, and broken, all you want is to feel normal and good again. This song is a cure for the anxiety-ridden among us. This poppy, upbeat song from 2008 features a narrator hoping that today will bring the restoration of her former state of mind.
Maybe she’ll seek therapeutic treatment and tell the doctor what she wants – not a medical miracle, but just to be okay.
14. Head Above Water – Avril Lavigne
It’s no wonder Avril Lavigne is an icon for this generation. Most of us grew up listening to their music and loving their style of music. But what many of her listeners don’t know is that she is struggling with Lyme disease, an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Borrelia.
This incredibly raw and honest song describes her struggle and how she prays for strength to cope in the midst of her painful situation. Avril uses this song to raise awareness about her illness and to raise funds to help people going through the same thing. Considered one of the most inspirational songs of 2018, it can be one of the songs we listen to when we lose hope in whatever we’re going through in life.
15. Paranoid – Black Sabbath
While Paranoid is definitely a track that focuses on paranoia, it’s also one that hits the nail on the head on the topic of anxiety. Do you think about things all day that never really make your life better?
Feeling insane when you can’t find a way to stop those intrusive thoughts? These are important parts of the anxiety experience, backed with a driving background guitar that really makes the listener feel like he or she is spinning out of control. This classic song is about many things, but it feels like it was made to talk about anxiety.
16. OK (Anxiety Anthem) – Mabel
English singer-songwriter Mabel has dealt with anxiety her entire life, and in this anxiety pop anthem, she asserts that “it’s okay not to be okay” because it’s something we all feel. The artist describes how anxiety makes you feel tearful, tense and causes sleepless nights. Some days you may even have trouble getting out of bed.
However, the world can’t understand the pain you feel because you hide your pain with a smile. Stop the charade.
17. Perfect – Anne-Marie
In this day and age, people tend to pay so much attention to their appearance because it’s so easy to compare themselves to each other on social media. We often feel bad because we don’t meet society’s standard of beauty. We tend to feel like we’ll never be enough for the world we live in.
This can create a mindset that does more harm than good. Body-shaming is a negative act that we can experience and it definitely affects our self-confidence. It can cause us to be depressed and have other mental problems.
That’s why this song can really help us realize that we can love ourselves and our bodies no matter what other people say.
18. Disturbia – Rihanna
Rihanna has not been shy about her anxiety in the past. She even confessed that she left the Grammy Awards before her performance because she was suffering from anxiety.
This was in 2016, but she hinted at her anxiety issues back in 2007 in “Disturbia”.
With her somber tone and the equally somber aesthetic of the accompanying video, Rihanna’s voice runs through anxiety-inducing images. The song is a bit nebulous in its message, but feelings of unease and being trapped are a common thread throughout the lyrics.
19. Inner Demons – Julia Brennan
Beneath the surface, an epic battle rages inside the narrator in this piano ballad as angels struggle to defeat inner demons. The narrator encourages her protective powers to remain.
She asks her angels to keep fighting for her, to take away the pain and fear, and to protect her from the damage her inner demons are doing to her.
20. Lovely – Billie Eilish Feat. Khalid
The song is about being torn apart by negative feelings and not being able to let go. The somber video, featuring only Billie Elish and Khalid, highlights the feeling of being shackled by negative emotions that you want to let go of, but are in shackles.