If indie movies have taught me anything, it’s that every nervous breakdown needs a killer soundtrack. Since most people with mental illness have different experiences, every “nervous breakdown” or “depression/anxiety” playlist must be personalized. But in the meantime, here’s thirteen songs to get you started down that dark path.
PS: If you want more, check out 10 Albums For Depressed People.
1. 19th Nervous Breakdown – The Rolling Stones
This is one of my favorite songs, for probably obvious reasons. 1) It’s the Stones. 2) It’s about anxiety. 3) It has a killer chorus. Here it comes, here it comes. Don’t worry, baby. It’s just your 19th nervous breakdown. You’ll be okay.
2. Basketcase – Green Day
Green Day captured the general mindless boredom and insanity of youth pretty freakin’ well, but for mental illness tunes, nothing beats “Basketcase.” It just sums up everything.
3. Kiss Off – Violent Femmes
My brother first played this song for me when I was way to young to be listening to it. I loved the melody. Later, when I was older and heard the lyrics I was like, “Yikes, bro.”
4. Needle in the Hay – Elliott Smith
Like everyone, I associate this song with the suicide scene from The Royal Tenenbaums, which makes it perfect for a nervous breakdown. Are you depressed? You may want to just buy Elliott Smith’s entire discography and save yourself the trouble. Trust me. He will speak to your disposition.
5. Me and Mia – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Once got in a fight with a guy at a college party because he didn’t believe me that this song is about anorexia. I was right. Everyone who has “Do you believe in something beautiful? Then, get up and be it” as their Facebook quote does not understand the meaning of this song. It’s not good.
6. Say It Ain’t So – Weezer
Early Weezer, wherefore have you gone? Sigh. Rivers Cuomo used to be my ideal man, and this song’s been co-opted by Guitar Hero. Boo. (Have ya’ll ever heard the Jay-Zeezer mashup “Say It Ain’t December 4th?” It’s real tasty listening.)
7. Lover I Don’t Have To Love – Bright Eyes
I LOVED this album in high school because I was a “sad girl” who thought Conor Oberst was the only one who understood her deep soul. This song is both sexy and depressing. Not sure how it pulls that off.
8. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
The ultimate. I once listened to this on repeat on an airplane and cried while staring out the window at the infinite Earth. Just try it.
9. Day Is Done – Nick Drake
Considering he died of an anti-depressant overdose, it’d be a huge oversight not to include Nick Drake on this list. Like Elliott Smith, you might want to just get everything he ever made and call it a day.
10. I Had Lost My Mind – Daniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston is the patron saint of mental illness music. This little diddy is both clever and sad, just like Johnston himself.
11. Mad World – Tears For Fears or Gary Jules
Definitely didn’t see Donnie Darko and then write these lyrics on all my binders in White Out pen. Nope. Guys. Okay. I was kind of a mall goth in high school. Sorry I’m not sorry.
12. She’s Losing It – Belle & Sebastian
Upbeat tune. Lyrics about being sad and crazy. Somehow it really, really works.
13. Rain – Patty Griffin
Put this on. Stand in front of a window during a thunderstorm. Sob.