Sad Music on Mental Health

Holland Cogan, Staff Writer

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Who wants to listen to a happy song on a bad day? People usually resort to the comforts of their sad music playlist with slow beats and soulful words to cancel out the world. A select few, however, turn up the volume in their car and scream along to fast-paced music with a strong base drop. No matter the method, music has proven to be what people use to handle emotions and make them feel better. However, sad music may not be as helpful as people believe. The negative effect of listening to sad music is that emotional regulation is tampered with. Researchers at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Music Research at the University of Jyväskylä, Aalto University in Finland, and Aarhus University in Denmark decided to research the relationship between mental health and music listening habits. The study researched the brain’s response to music by looking at the effects on people’s behavior and feelings. Studies show continuously listening to sad music can put a person on a loop of thinking about their negative emotions. The cycle can create more sadness and eventually lead to depression. Song choice can also influence emotions. A study done by Castillo and Fernández-Caballer researched the “Improvement of the Elderly Quality of Life and Care through Smart Emotion Regulation” and dealt with how music can affect emotions. They noted that a fast tempo in a song and beat shifts could increase the feelings of anxiety and tension in a person. An increase in tension and anxiety on a bad day is not helping emotional processing and could add to a person’s confusion and distress. However, the negative effects of sad music can’t shadow the positives. The positive effects of sad music on mental health is that sad music has been prone to make listeners feel more empathetic towards the artist creating it, and understanding of their own emotions. Sad songs can evoke a feeling of community with the fan base and let people know that they are not alone. Song lyrics can give clarity to a situation and give a different perspective. Whatever the case, music still is an outlet for many, and continues to evoke various emotions. There is still not enough information to determine how detrimental sad music is on mental health, but from the studies so far it shouldn’t be a severe problem.