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Does Sad Music Make Us Feel Better? Here's an Eye-opening Answer

Does Sad Music Make Us Feel Better?
Feeling depressed? The first thing you do is tune into some peppy music. But do you actually feel better listening to such music, or does sad music help you?
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Sad little baby
"I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality."
- H.A. Overstreet
The most common advice that we receive when we are depressed, sad, or have just had a breakup is NOT to listen to sad songs. The reason being, sad songs will remind us of our pain, and we feel all the more depressed. But then, there are others who feel that listening to sad songs helps them ease the pain. They feel that happy songs remind them of the happier times they spent. However, these flashbacks only increase the already-existing pain. This PsycholoGenie article tells you whether sad songs actually help you in feeling better.

Let us get to the answer right away. Yes, sad music does help us feel better!
Why Do Sad Songs Make Us Feel Better?
Earlier, it was believed that upbeat songs made you feel fresh, and you could forget any sorrow while listening to such songs. However, latest studies show the contrary to be true. Upbeat songs only add fuel to the fire by reminding us of all the good times.
A study was conducted by Dr. Stephen Palmer of the University of California, Berkeley, and it was published in the Journal of Consumer Research. In the study, the volunteers were asked to recall times of loss and then pick a choice of music. These people picked sad songs that clearly reflected their emotional turmoil. Thus Dr. Palmer said,
"Like a sympathetic friend, music, movies, paintings, or novels that are compatible with our current mood and feelings are more appreciated when we experience broken or failing relationships."
This means that if subjected to music that is in line with our current emotions, we feel an instant connect with it. The connect helps us to come out of our situation better than taking advice from a friend. A friend, in such times, will only advise you, or worst, become judgmental about the situation. You don't wish to listen to advice that would actually make you think too much when in tears, do you? You simply want someone to understand your situation, and sad songs do just that.

Another study that was conducted by Kawakami et al. in 2013 also concluded that sad music is truly enjoyable, because it evokes emotions that, in turn, makes us feel light. He found out that,
"... the sad music was perceived to be more tragic, whereas the actual experiences of the participants listening to the sad music induced them to feel more romantic, more blithe, and less tragic emotions than they actually perceived with respect to the same music."
This study was conducted on volunteers who were non-musicians. They were asked to listen to both forms of music―sad as well as happy. The participants were asked to use some words to rate their emotions and their perception of the music. Upon evaluation of these words, the above finding was concluded.
Does Sad Music Really Help You After a Breakup?
Getting over a breakup is not an easy task. You are left depressed and alone after having a wonderful relationship. But, that doesn't mean you cannot move on. Moving on in life is very important. You simply cannot sit and cry about your situation all the time. During these times of grief, you need someone to understand your situation. You need someone to just help you in healing your wounds. And who better than music can do that for you!
Musical Powers
Woman Dancing
Music has the power to evoke sadness or happiness in a person. If you are in a happy mood and choose to listen to upbeat songs, your mood will be lifted further. In the same manner, listening to sad songs will help you feel better during times of grief. Listening to sad songs while you are in such a situation is similar to having a friend who will understand all your emotions. The feelings that you were unable to explain to your near and dear ones, leave alone making them understand these feelings, were easily put to words by these songs.
Music - The Healer
Healing Woman
Catharsis is the word! It is nothing but purging of emotional tensions through forms of art, like music. There are a few people who try to act strong during such times and often refrain from crying. I am not asking anyone to sit and cry, but at times, it is necessary to vent out our feelings. The more you keep them to yourself, the more they will hurt you. These sad songs act like a trigger for evoking these emotions. When you sit quietly with your earphones plugged in, listening to sad music, you may feel tears rolling down your eyes. Once you are done with releasing all these emotions, you will feel better. You finally come out of the situation and learn to relive your life, happily.
In a Better Situation
While you are all sad and in grief, you can connect to these songs very well. However, once time passes by, and the sadness has reduced a bit, these songs will have a different effect altogether. This time around, these songs will make you realize that you are in a better situation than the situation explained in the song. This instills a feel-good factor, and you are happy knowing that you are in a better frame of mind now. From here on, it is easy to overcome the sadness.
Sad songs, contrary to the popular belief, help in healing a broken heart. Even if you are not in such a depressing situation, you will still enjoy listening to these songs. Sad songs have a comforting rhythm and tone to them, which help you relax. You, in fact, appreciate the efforts of the singers who lend their voice to these songs. Even though the emotions in these songs may be of the sad type, the calmness in them surely relaxes you.
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