19 Songs To Listen To When You're Depressed (Hold Onto Hope If You Got It)


"Hold onto hope if you got it, don't let it go for nobody."

That one lyric from Paramore's "26" just got me. Maybe it's because Hayley Williams has the voice of an angel, or maybe it's because it actually understands how people feel when they're depressed: hopeless.

Instead of having an unrealistic, uppity attitude about depression, Paramore tells it like it is. When you're depressed, it can feel like you have literally no hope whatsoever. If you do have any hope left, you have to dig deep to find it. You have to reawaken it. 

Songs that tell me just to "be happy" don't quite cut it for me. Before I can be happy, I have to grieve. I have to actually feel my feelings instead of pushing them away. I have to find hope. Then I have to heal. Songs that convey that make me feel a lot better. Instead of feeling broken, I feel understood. 

I decided to compile a playlist inspired by the Paramore lyric "hold onto hope if you got it." As you can probably already tell, the theme is "hope." If you're feeling depressed, anxious, or just down in the dumps, this playlist will let you feel those feelings without shame! After listening to all 19 songs, I hope you feel a bit better. Some of these songs have helped me through the darkest periods of my life...and I can only dream they'll do the same for you.

For your convenience, I included a brief description of every song because I hate when a playlist lists songs and I don't know what I'm getting into. So there you have it! Sit back, relax, and indulge yourself in your sadness. Don't forget to bring tissues! I hope by the end of the hour, you're feeling just a tad bit more hopeful. xo

1. 26 - Paramore

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"Hold onto hope if you got it. Don't let it go for nobody."
"26" is all about acknowledging your pain and holding onto all the hope you have left. Anytime I hear this song, I want to cuddle up by the window on a rainy day and reflect on my life. Considering this song inspired this entire playlist, you know it's gonna make you feel things you've never felt before.

2. Utopian Futures - Kimya Dawson
Here in the place where dreams aren't dead, here in the space between our heads."
Feeling down about the state of our government? Having a bit of a financial crisis? Not feeling satisfied at work? Trapped in an environment that's toxic for you? "Utopian Futures" will take you to a place that accepts you for who you are. I especially love how detailed Dawson gets in this song. She is so specific with things that are dragging her down and then yet again about things that make her feel better. Her vulnerability will make you feel less alone.

3. Lullably For An Insomniac - Kate Nash
"And I think I'm falling down again, so I think about all of my good friends."
Depression can make every single day feel the same. You can't enjoy things, you can't eat, you can't sleep. You don't even feel like you. "Lullably For An Insomniac" by Kate Nash is a dreamy tune that describes the blandness of everyday life. I especially love listening to it before bed. 

4. Old Days - Ingrid Michaelson
"Heaven help the ones who fly away, heaven help the ones who have to stay and place the blame."
Old Days is exactly what it sounds like: reminiscing about the old days. Sometimes, looking back at the past can help you reawaken emotions you used to feel. Michaelson conveys such passion in every note as she sings about trying her best through dark times. If you need a good cry, this song is for you.

5. Through The Eyes Of A Child - AURORA

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"I would rather feel alive with a childlike soul."
Holding onto my childlike wonder makes me feel a tad better when times are rough. AURORA touches on that in "Through The Eyes Of A Child." We get it, adulting is hard sometimes. But it doesn't have to be, right? Right?!?!

6. His Daughter - Molly Kate Kestner
"If there's a God out there, please here my prayer. I'm lost and I'm scared, and I've got nowhere else to go."
Kestner actually got signed because of how many souls she touched with this song, so you know it's bound to be good. This song tells a story of a girl who was abused as a child. Sadly, that abuse followed her throughout most of her life. Luckily though, the story has a happy ending...I won't spoil it for you though!

7. Dream - Priscilla Ahn
"I had a dream that I could fly from the highest swing, I had a dream..."
If you love songs that take you on a mental journey, you'll fall in love with "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn.  It somehow successfully tells the story of a woman's entire life just in 3 minutes. "Dream" has so much power in it, it'll make you want to live your best life despite how hard things can get sometimes.

8. Comme des enfants - Coeur De Pirate
This song is in french so I don't know what they're saying. But it sure sounds beautiful! Whether it be a rainy day or a long drive after a bad day at work, "Comme des enfants" will make all of your hard work feel worth it.

9. Speeding Cars - Imogen Heap
"The paper cuts, the cheating lovers, the coffee's never strong enough. I know you think it's more than just bad luck."
Okay, I'm not kidding when I tell you this: this song is one of the reasons I'm alive today. "Speeding Cars" is about all those times where every bad thing that could possibly happen to you happens at once. You feel like there's no reason to go on...yet you do anyways. Whenever I listen to this song, it sounds like Imogen is my guardian angel, holding my hand while I cry. This is definitely one of the most powerful songs on the playlist, so I recommend tissues if you plan on checking this one out.

10. Walls - The Rocket Summer
And you've got no where else to go, and you're lost within your own home. And you're trying so hard to win, you keep trying, it's embarrassing..."
UGH, this song is everything. It's all about the journey of getting yourself back up after a rough era. The Rocket Summer will take you on an emotional roller coaster with "Walls."

11. Fear and Loathing - Marina & The Diamonds
"Don't wanna live in fear and loathing. I wanna feel like I am floating, instead of constantly exploding in fear and loathing."
This one is for all my lovelies with anxiety. "Fear and Loathing" touches on themes of self-doubt, paranoia and hope. If you hate what you see when you look in the mirror and you're constantly struggling with your image, Marina will take you one step closer to confidence. 

12. Malibu - Miley Cyrus
"I never would've believed you if three years ago you told me I'd be writing this song. But here I am."
When Miley released this song, she poured heart out on the table. After her and Liam ended it a few years ago, she clearly had a rough patch in her life. Yet here she is, happy and free. For me, "Malibu" gives me hope that things really will get better.

13. Shake It Out - Florence + The Machine
"I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hurt. It's a shot in the dark and right at my throat."
This song is actually a work of art and I will put it on every playlist EVER. If you ask me to define poetry, I will show you "Shake It Out." While most of you probably already know this song, it doesn't hurt to look at it from a new perspective. This song helped me through a rough breakup, my eating disorder, and a few bad habits.

14. Get Happy / Happy Days Are Here Again - Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland
"Forget your troubles, come on get happy..."
This song is powerful because Barbra and Judy are on it. Apart of it is ironic because both of them have publicly dealt with not-so-happy times. However, it never fails to give me strength. If Judy can get through it, so can I!

15. Hold On - Jonas Brothers
"If you love someone, and they break your heart, don't give up on love. Have faith, restart."
This song is sort of on this playlist ironically...you know, for nostalgia's sake. If you were a huuuuge JoBros fan in the 2000s like me, you'll feel this song hit you in all the right places.

16. Missing You - All Time Low
"And if you need a friend, I'll help you stitch up your wounds."
All Time Low sure knows how to cater to their audience: a bunch of depressed kids. In "Missing You," the band sings about surviving through not-so-nice times. This song for those nights where you just want to drown yourself in your sorrows. Just feel it. Just let yourself feel it.

17. Not Alone - Darren Criss
"I've been alone surrounded by darkness. I've seen how heartless the world can be."
Darren Criss's dreamy voice serenades you to sleep in "Not Alone." No matter how dark life can be, he assures you time and time again: you are not alone.

18. Maybe This Time - Liza Minnelli
"Everybody loves a winner, so nobody loves me."
Oh Liza, why do you do this to me? In "Maybe This Time," the broadway legend holds onto hope without reason. Love may escape you, your career might fail you, and everything in your life might go wrong. Yet regardless, you get up and think, "Maybe this time I'll win."

19. A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes - Disney's Cinderella 

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"No matter how you're heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."
Of course I would end this playlist on a classic Disney note. Because this song is Disney, people just assume it's happy-go-lucky. But if you really listen to the lyrics, Cinderella is talking about escaping reality with her dreams. Her life was basically a disaster, yet she held onto the one thing that keeps us holding on: hope.

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Hold onto hope friends.

All the best,
Maria Elena

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