When you listen to sad songs by artists like Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens, or Lana Del Rey, does it really make you feel better? According to studies recently published on Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, people who frequently listen to sad or aggressive music are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety or neuroticism than those tuned in to happier selections. Participants in the study were required to listen to happy, sad, or fearful sounding music in order to test their neural activity. The results were compared to signs of mental health that indicated for things like anxiety, neuroticism, and depression.
Professor Elvira Brattico, the senior author of the study, stated that the results “show a link between music-listening styles and mPFC activation, which could mean that certain listening styles have long-term effects on the brain.” (I literally celebrate Sad Girl Saturday every weekend and listen to my designated ”:-(” playlist on loop, so I’m pretty bummed to find out that I’ve actually been the cause of my dark mental state after all this time.)