27 Songs About PTSD

Despite it being increasingly common in our society, we still don’t talk about PTSD as much as we could.

Whether that’s because we find it awkward, uncomfortable, or painful is a deeply personal experience. Because we don’t discuss PTSD often, many people find comfort in listening to music that reflects their experiences.

These songs about PTSD might help listeners overcome their trauma. Whatever you need, there’s something for everyone.

1. PTSD by G. Herbo

Song Year: 2020

We start our list of songs about PTSD with a piece by the rapper G. Herbo. Herbo collaborated with Juice WRLD Chance and Lil Uzi Vert on this song.

The impetus was Herbo’s diagnosis of PTSD. Talking in interviews, the rapper said he hadn’t realized how much of a toll his exposure to inter-city death and violence took on him. Then he went to therapy.

The result is an astonishing and nuanced treatment of several artists’ experiences of PTSD that lays the groundwork for conversations about mental health between listeners.

2. Zombie by The Cranberries

Song Year: 1994

The Cranberries' song “Zombie” does grapple explicitly with PTSD. In particular, it explores PTSD inspired by military tours and operations.

Depending on a person’s experience, responses vary. Some recovering veterans find it triggers flashbacks. Others take comfort in the song’s realistic treatment of a challenging subject, comforted by the knowledge their experience isn’t as isolating as they thought.

3. Til It Happens to You by Lady Gaga

Song Year: 2010

“Til It Happens To You” was written for the film The Hunting Ground. It’s also a tribute to America’s rape victims on college and university campuses everywhere.

The slow tempo and heartbeat pulse of the orchestration is haunting. But what’s most powerful about this song is that it takes all the advice we give people with PTSD and unflinchingly condemns it as trite.

Simultaneously, it recognizes the horror of rape and violence. It’s a powerful combination, and the result is a memorable song about PTSD.

4. American Soldier by Toby Keith

Song Year: 2003

“American Soldier” is another song with a militaristic theme that many people with PTSD find reassuring.

It contrasts themes of family, love, and loyalty with the perpetual pressure of the military lifestyle. Keith’s speaker is devoted to his job but also his family and it’s obvious that the perpetual balancing act demands a lot.

It’s also not a balance everyone achieves, and sometimes that’s enough to cause PTSD. The recognition that these stresses aren’t imagined is something many listeners find reassuring.

5. Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift

Song Year: 2012

While not explicitly a song about PTSD, many people who struggle with mental health find Taylor Swift’s lyrics resonate.

The lyrics are unapologetically dark, in a way that both warrant a trigger warning, but many also find cathartic. They grapple with how shadows threaten to overwhelm our internal spark of light and how alluring that feeling can be.

But even as it flirts with feelings of despair, it offers listeners a beacon of hope. The title says it all; This song is about eventually finding a place where you feel safe and secure again.

6. Survivor by Destiny’s Child

Song Year: 2001

Like other songs on this list, “Survivor” isn’t explicitly about PTSD but has lyrics that many PTSD survivors take comfort in.

The cause of the speaker’s downtrodden position is unspecified, but it’s one many people with PTSD relate to, especially if the source of their flashback is a person.

 Whatever the cause, this is an anthem of hope. It tells PTS survivors everywhere that they can and will overcome their trauma. It may be hard-going, and it may feel impossible, but the reason they’re listening to music now is because the darkness hasn’t overwhelmed them yet. And if they keep fighting long and hard enough, it never will.

7. Discombobulate by Hans Zimmer

Song Year: 2010

“Discombobulate” stands out because it’s one of the few instrumental songs about PTSD.

Despite the lack of lyrics, its propulsive, percussive drum beat and militaristic tempo do an excellent job of capturing the experience of PTSD.

The violin is tersely plucked, not bowed, and there’s minimal musical variation in the harmonic line. The result is a claustrophobic composition that typifies the flashback experience for many people.

8. Praying by Kesha

Song Year: 2017

When Kesha released “Praying” it followed a long hiatus from the music industry.

Kesha spent the time battling several personal demons, including sexual trauma. In that sense, “Praying” is a tribute to women everywhere who develop PTSD and depression.

Not everyone wants to be evangelized when combatting flashbacks, but that’s not what “Praying” does. Its lyrics simply remind listeners that there’s always a light in the darkness if you look hard enough. 

9. Numb by Linkin Park

Song Year: 2003

Linkin never met a subject they couldn’t compose a song about. But this song about PTSD and depression might be one of their most poignant.

Numbness is a common trauma response for people who have PTSD and the song’s lyrics describe the sensation with devastating realism.

Part of what makes “Numb” so moving is the realization that sometimes overt expressions of love do more harm than good. The speaker describes a paralytic fear that they won’t meet their loved ones’ standards. Knowing they’re loved makes the situation worse, not better.

It’s an uncomfortable truth but an important one when discussing mental


10. You Gotta Be by Des-ree

Song Year: 1999

Conversely “You Gotta Be” is a song about PTSD by Des-ree that believes love can pull you through your darkest hours.

Its refrain acknowledges that as much as it hurts to go through refiner’s fire, it’s necessary if you want to survive flashback experiences. And one of the best ways to find the inner strength to do that is to trust the people around you.

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