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How Music Affects Mental Health

Most people I know have gone through rough patches where we make ourselves feel worse by listening to sad songs. The same way most people have listened to upbeat songs to put us in a good mood. Music has a profound effect on our mind and can alter the way we feel, making day-to-day tasks less of a chore.

Why music is good for mental health

Music has been used to assist conventional healing techniques by Native Americans and other indigenous groups. As well as In the writings of the Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato, music is mentioned as a therapeutic technique dating back to ancient times. To this day, music is still used as a form of healing, with studies to back this.

Researchers have found that listening to music you enjoy can release a feel-good, mood enhancing chemical in your brain called dopamine. Statistically, music does in fact link with your mental well being, with dopamine levels being raised by 9% while participants listened to their favourite music. In other words, music can quite literally change your brain. Not only this, but its proven that listening to relaxing music before bed can have a positive impact on the quality of your sleep, thus improving your mood and negating chances of depression. Another positive impact music can have on your mental well being is reducing the amount of stress and anxiety you may feel by listening to calming music. A persons blood pressure and heartrate along with a hormone called cortisol that produces stress can also be significantly lowered just by listening to calming music.

Here is a list below with tips you can incorporate into your routine in order to improve your mental well-being using music.

  • listening to relaxing music

  • write a song

  • create a mood playlist

Music is also used as a type of therapy, which more and more people are recognizing. Music therapy focuses on the naturally mood lifting properties of music which can consist of making music, singing, writing songs, listening to music and discussing music. This form of treatment can be beneficial to many people experiencing depression and anxiety as well as helping with physical health. There are many different approaches within music therapy, for example analytical music therapy, community music therapy, vocal psychotherapy and more. If you are interested in taking part in music therapy you can access more information at

Why music can be bad for mental health

On the flipside, however, music can also have a negative impact on someone's mental well-being and emotions. Whilst studies do highlight the positive effects music can have, it has also been recorded that music can have negative impacts. For example, listening to aggressive music with violent lyrics can lead the listener to feeling emotions of aggressiveness and hatred.

Music can also change our perception of the world and life itself. A study conducted in 2011 suggested that visual perception can be altered by music. An example of this causing negative impacts is listening to sad music can make the world seem duller around you; so listening to sad music all the time can cause someone to go into a more depressive state of mind.

Music can play a big part in making us think negatively by listening to sad songs. Of course listening to these types of songs every so often is perfectly ok, but when you're listening to them everyday it can definitely impact the way you feel. Some studies suggest that people living with depression are often attracted to sad/melancholic music and participants say that they often feel worse after listening to the music. This can turn into a vicious cycle where you feel sad so listen to sad music, but then the sad music makes you feel even worse.

My experience

In my own experience of listening to music, I found that the music I listen to does in fact have a major impact on my mental well-being. Years ago when I wasn't in the best state of mind I used to listen to all kinds of depressing, negative music from artists such as '$uicideboy$' and 'Lil Peep'. Listening to this type of 'emo-rap' music everyday certainly did not help my mental state and as I started listening to more uplifting music I would notice my overall mood shifting. Although to this day I still love them same artists, I make sure not to delve into the hole and continue to listen to more positive music on the daily to help with my mood and confidence throughout the day.


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