"Sad" music and depression - psychological study


Well-Known Member

I thought this summary from the British Psychological Society might be of interest to a few of you on here? It's certainly something I've thought about a lot over the years. (And now, as a parent, find myself actively steering our children away from too much of my "sad" music, even though it would be interesting to share it with them!)

From the summary:

We all know the powerful effect that music can have on mood. You might be feeling rather chirpy, but then a tear-jerker comes on the car radio and you arrive home feeling morose (conversely, of course, happy tunes can lift our spirits). For most of us, these effects are not a big deal. But what if you are living with depression? Now the implications become more serious. And, according to a provocative study published a few years ago, far from seeking out uplifting music, people diagnosed with depression are notably more inclined than healthy controls to choose to listen to sad music (and look at sad images). The controversial implication is that depressed people deliberately act in ways that are likely to maintain their low mood. Now a study in the journal Emotion has replicated this finding, but the researchers also present evidence suggesting depressed people are not seeking to maintain their negative feelings, but rather that they find sad music calming and even uplifting.


On Timeout
Just heard that the music journo David Cavanagh committed suicide a few months back. Sadly, he jumped in front of a high-speed train. He wrote a brilliantly researched book on the Creation Records story and all its early bands from the Jesus and Mary Chain up to Oasis that I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in the subject.



On Timeout
Oh Christ, I had no idea about that - so sad. He was such a good music writer
Yes, I was shocked myself. I've always thought his writing was very honest. Apparently he was the only reviewer critical of Oasis's second album and he couldn't get work for three months afterwards. His book about Creation is amazing.

A good thread you've started here by the way. Your piece above is very interesting - and true. There's a strange kind of dark comfort in seeking 'pleasure' in so-called depressing things - I for one am certainly guilty of this behaviour.
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