Listening to Sad Music Can Actually Make You Feel Better, and Here Are 7 Reasons Why

Back in 2014, a group of scientists did an online survey and got some pretty surprising results — listening to sad music can actually be beneficial for your emotional health. Another recent study done in 2019 brought up this topic again and proved that depressed people prefer sad music over happy songs, as they believe that it improves their sense of well-being.

We at Bright Side decided to find out exactly why sad music can help you feel better.

7. It puts you into a melancholic mood.

Quite often, we associate music with some enjoyable moments in our life, be it the first date with our ex or a family gathering from our childhood. And, surprisingly, even sad music can make us feel this way.

Studies show that, instead of bringing the feeling of unhappiness or sadness, negative songs actually put us into a nostalgic mood. Nostalgia is a bittersweet emotion that inspires your imagination and gives you a feeling of comfort by evoking warm memories from the past.

6. It gives you pleasure.

Turns out that sadness evoked by music can actually be pleasurable. For this, according to scientists, sad music should meet 3 criteria — it should be perceived as non-threatening, be aesthetically pleasing, and remind you of past events.

5. It reminds you that everything could have been worse.

According to social psychology, you always feel better about yourself if you focus on someone who's doing much worse than you. This process is called downward social comparison. So, for example, if Thom Yorke from Radiohead is singing that he's having an even worse day than you are, your mood improves and you subconsciously start feeling better.

4. It's a reflection of your own feelings.

Another point from social psychology is that people like to listen to music that mirrors the tone of the situation they find themselves in. In this case, sad songs act as a sort of tuning fork for your own mood - they resonate with you, helping you feel that you are not alone when experiencing pain and sorrow in this world.

3. It changes your hormonal balance.

Scientists believe that sad music can increase the level of prolactin, a hormone that helps you fight grief. This happens because, when listening to these songs, your body starts preparing itself for a bad event, but then the song ends and this event doesn't happen. After this experience, your body is left with a pleasurable feeling of relief.

Listening to music also releases dopamine, an important chemical messenger that helps regulate many functions in your body, including your sense of pleasure and motivation. This puts music in the same row with food and sex, which are both good ways of dealing with a bad mood.

2. It helps you overcome difficult times.

For most people, listening to sad music can be an effective way to deal with their own emotions. For example, if you've had a recent break-up, you might listen to Adele’s Someone Like You, and this song might make you feel even worse, to such an extent that you might start crying. However, after having a good cry, you'll feel better, and will be able to focus on the thoughts of moving on.

This phenomenon is called catharsis and it actually helps you work through your feelings of sadness and think about how to overcome the difficult situation.

1. It helps you calm down.

According to a study, depressed people prefer sad songs because they are usually low in terms of energy levels and that is why they produce a relaxing effect. So, instead of increasing or maintaining sad feelings, this kind of music actually helps you take a deep breath in and calm down.

Does sad music make you feel better? Please share your favorite tear-jerkers in the comments!

Illustrated by Leisan Gabidullina for Bright Side
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