Listening to sad music in a group and talking about sad things makes people feel more depressed, research finds.
Talking in this way in a group about sad things is more common among younger people.
However, listening to inspiring music in a group and talking about life and music makes people feel less depressed.
Dr Sandra Garrido, the study’s first author, said:
“Behaviors relating to music use fall into distinct patterns, reflecting either healthy or unhealthy thought processes.
These results reveal important information about how people with depression use music.”
So music can be used positively to feel better and it can also be used negatively to feel worse.
Unfortunately, some people are particularly poor at coping with with obstacles and negative emotions, as the study’s authors explain:
“People with generally maladaptive coping styles tend to report negative outcomes from both listening to music alone and from group interactions around music.
It appears that this occurs because such people are more likely to engage in ruminating with music – using music both to intensify negative affect and to focus on negative thoughts and memories.
Rumination involves going over and over negative events and emotions in the mind, trying to work out the causes and effects.
Some people seem to have an automatic preference for engaging in rumination.
This kind of preference is usually linked to more depression symptoms.
Dr Garrido said:
“While young people with tendencies to depression who are a part of social groups may be perceived as receiving valuable social support, our results here suggest that the positive impacts of such group interactions depend on the types of processes that are taking place in the group.
Susceptible individuals with a predilection for rumination may be most likely to suffer negative outcomes from group rumination, with social feedback deepening and exacerbating negative thoughts and feelings.
However, group interactions that provide social support or opportunities for processing of emotions in a constructive way have a much higher likelihood of being positive.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Garrido et al., 2017).