Put away Bright Eyes, because sad music might be bad for your health

Back in high school, there were few things I loved more than kicking back and enjoying some melancholy tunes in my bedroom. I’d pop in a Cat Power or Mazzy Star CD, or a mix with Iron & Wine and Bright Eyes on it, lay back and reflect on what was going on in my teenage life. And while I don’t really have the same amount of alone time I used to have to indulge in my love of Elliott Smith, it’s probably for the best because a new study reveals that all those angsty afternoons probably weren’t very good for me.

The study, conducted at the Center for Interdisciplinary Music Research, used brain imaging scans in the form of fMRI’s to see each participant’s brain activity while they listened to various types of music. The results, published in this month’s Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, showed a higher incidence of neuroticism and anxiety in those who tend to listen to aggressive or sad music in order to regulate their moods.

Co-author and music therapist Emily Carlson wrote, “Some ways of coping with negative emotion, such as rumination, which means continually thinking over negative things, are linked to poor mental health. We wanted to learn whether there could be similar negative effects of some styles of music listening. [We hope our work] encourages everyone to think about how the different ways they use music might help or harm their own well-being.”

This revelation was especially true in the male participants. This latest study goes against a study just last year that stated that sad music could make people feel better. Maybe we need a third study as a tie breaker?

So what does this all mean for you? Well, for one, you might want to ditch the Lana del Rey or Bon Iver during your next break-up and replace it with, say, Saint Motel.

Seriously, who can be sad after listening to “My Type”? No one, I say. No one.

(Image via iStock)