Maybe Choose Something a Bit Happier

By Samantha Allan

Music is often characterized in a lot of interesting ways. It can not only be identified by genre, but also by the mood or feeling it presents to the audience. Due to the great variety we are exposed to, we often see examples of certain music connected to many different emotions. Whether you are feeling sad, happy, angry or disappointed, there is a song to fit every possible experience.

More often than not, emotion-based songs are often directly correlated with the people who would be listening to it. The best examples I can think of is someone sad listening to a ballad or someone happy listening to something upbeat. In both of these examples, the person is usually presented as having this emotion before the song, and then later listening to increase their feelings.

Thinking a lot about this, I could not help but wonder if negative music had any benefits. For example, does listening to a sad song make you feel worse? Could a song filled with anger cause someone to act out aggressively?

Unsurprisingly, many people wondered the same thing. A few different studies were released in 2016, specifically on the effects of listening to sad music.

Sandra Garrido, a research development fellow, revealed there are actually positive and negative benefits to sad music. Garrido explained listening to sad music will make you feel sadder, but it can be beneficial to a healthy person.

In her article “Sad music and depression: does it help?” Garrido says, “For a healthy person this feeling is probably no more than a minor blip in their day and may even help them obtain some important psychological benefits along with way.”

In this respect, it sounds great to listen to your favorite ballad on a bad day. Although you might feel sad at first, it could have the potential to make you feel better in the future. However, Garrido’s remark about how music affects a healthy person was a really important distinction.

In her article, Garrido later mentions that someone with diagnosed depression or other mental illness can suffer negative effects. Due to their health, the sad music can not only make them feel worse but also trigger long-term effects.

Factoring mental health into the equation makes for an interesting perspective. Listening to sad music can be beneficial, but only if the individual is able to cope on their own. Individuals who have heightened levels of emotion, especially negative, would not benefit at all. The negativity in the music, meant to be comforting and relatable, would be doing exactly the opposite.

Many of us have seen the cliché image of a sad guy or girl listening to music as they cry. While a person in perfect health might benefit from it, clearly not everyone will.

Save the sad ballad for another day and crank up your favorite dance song. Despite how relatable that ballad may be, it might be for the best to seek out something more upbeat.

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