Mental health used to be a taboo subject. Anyone with a problem was either considered overdramatic or deeply damaged and often called slurs like crazy. Even now, we use the term crazy as an insult. However, things are getting better, and that is largely thanks to the many celebrities who are using their fame to bring mental health to the forefront. Musicians, in particular, have aided this cause by writing openly about their personal struggles. Here are ten awesome songs about anxiety.
10. Linkin Park: Crawling
The third single from Linkin Park’s debut album, Hybrid Theory, is about how anxiety can make you feel. This hard and heavy song talks about the sense that the walls are closing in and how uncomfortable it feels. A pervasive sense of anger and sorrow tinges this amazing song with helpless frustration. It’s easy to see how anxiety can manifest in numerous ways, from fear to rage and self-doubt.
9. Arkells: American Screams
American Screams is less personal than most of the songs on this list. This song expresses cultural anxiety rather than talking about how one person feels when they get anxious. After touring the US, Arkells discovered a sense of national fear and stress that pervades modern culture. However, the song’s release, rather than its content, made waves. According to The Hamilton Spectator, the band used billboards and a hotline to release their new song. The billboard said, “CAN’T SLEEP OFF THOSE AMERICAN SCREAMS? CALL 1-888-426-8856.” The article goes on to point out, “When you phone the number, a voice that sounds a lot like Arkells’ lead singer Max Kerman’s answers (and he says) “Hey, you’ve reached the American Screams hotline. If you’d like to hear our new song, please press 1. If you’d like to leave a message for the Arkells, press 2.”
8. Modest Mouse: The World At Large
The World At Large by Modern Mouse is a personal reaction to the stress that comes from anxiety. This song is all about escapism and how much the singer wants to get away from everything that causes him problems. The World At Large also touches on something few people talk about. The isolation that comes from feeling misunderstood by the people around you, especially lovers, is one of the most challenging problems with clinical anxiety.
7. Metric: Help I’m Alive
Dealing with anxiety is tough enough when it’s short-lived. However, there’s additional pressure for regular sufferers to fit in and act normal. Known as masking, some anxiety sufferers are outstanding at ‘playing a part,’ while others break down publicly, but either way, it feels like drowning in the expectations of others. Help I’m Alive perfectly expresses this feeling.
6. Hamish Anderson: Trouble
Award-winning Australian blues and rock musician Hamish Anderson is an underrated artist who has shared the stage with greats like BB King. In Trouble, the singer talks about the sense of impending problems and how ‘no one cares.’ The feeling of isolation and impending doom is palpable in every line.
5. Greenday: Basketcase
Basketcase by Greenday is a superb song about anxiety that discusses an aspect that many people avoid or gloss over. The opening lyric says it all. “Do you have the time to listen to me whine about nothing and everything all at once?” The cheerful, upbeat sound masks the fact that the meaning behind this song is much more profound. In addition to feeling like no one cares, many anxiety sufferers feel strongly that expressing their issues is difficult and merely a burden to those around them.
4. Ben Platt: Waving Through A Window
Dear Evan Hanson is a Broadway Musical first released in 2016. Later it was adapted to a movie, and both have been hailed as a cultural phenomenon. As Prezi.com aptly explains, “The theme of “Waving Through a Window” is anxious or despair. In this song, the singer talks about how he is “on the outside always looking in,” which leads us to believe that the character felt left out because of his social anxiety.”
3. Ariana Grande: Breathin’
In psychology, the ‘spoon theory’ talks about how we all have a certain number of things to do in a day. The ‘spoons’ are like tokens you have to spend to use up energy and complete those tasks. Ariana Grande talks about how anxiety can sap your energy in Breathin’. Doubtless, Ariana was low on ‘spoons’ when she wrote this song. The need to get anything vital done when you are anxious makes this more complicated. It can feel so overwhelming that you can hardly breathe. For neurotypical people, their spoons often meet or exceed their to-do list. However, for those suffering from anxiety and other mental illnesses, there are never enough spoons to do all the things they have for a day. Sometimes all you can do is breathe through it and accept that you don’t have the ‘spoons’ to finish what you, or the people around you, expect for the day.
2. Black Sabbath: Paranoid
Unfortunately, like most mental illnesses, anxiety can manifest in numerous ways. Paranoid talks about more than just feeling paranoia. The singer is searching for answers and distractions. Ultimately, the lyrics conclude that it’s all hopeless and pointless rather than seeking treatment or a healthy solution.
1. Tori Amos: Crucify
If you were to methodically and lyrically list most of the effects of feeling anxiety, both internally and socially, you would have Tori Amos’ Crucify. This superb song was released in 1992, well before most people were discussing mental health issues as openly as we do today. Not only was Crucify a brave stand on self-expression, but it also helped create a public dialogue about anxiety.
Everyone feels anxiety occasionally. From a normal concern about a tough event to stage fright to a clinical disability, we all share this emotion, though some have it worse than others. While we don’t have the cure for anxiety, listening to these ten awesome songs about it may help you feel less alone and more seen when it seems like the world is out to get you.