how sad songs can actually help

Not everyone listens to melancholy music when they’re feeling down, some listen to happy music to pump them up, others don’t feel like listening to anything. As someone that does feel better relating to a good Sam Smith tune, I looked into it. Why do people feel better with a sad song to sop along with?


There’s actually 2 types of scientific reasoning, psychology and neuroscience.

Psychological reasons, these may be the more obvious answers, and if you thought of these, pat yourself on the back because psychologist Adrian North and others have proved these to be correct. When listening to someone else pour their heart out, it helps because we can relate to their sorrowful words. So basically going Back to Black may make us feel like our Heart Will Go On, this type of self reflection is therapeutic. Another explanation links to downward social comparison, this refers to feeling better knowing that someone else is doing worse, meaning that we’re all a little bit selfish sometimes. Who knew?

The other way at looking it is through neuroscience: hormones and chemicals really.  You might have heard of Dopamine, the “happiness hormone” which increases whilst listening to music in general. You may not know about Prolactin on the other hand, it’s main role is helping pregnant women lactate- BUT sad songs also release this hormone. Hyperprolactinemia helps us prepare for grief, so we may be left feeling almost pleasurable when nothing bad happens to us after we listen to our favourite tearful ballad.

Finally, my favourite reason, which makes me laugh because it’s very true, especially for us youngens. Aesthetic, such tumblr. There’s something kind of alluring about such beauty being created from a place of hurt and pain, and that’s why we love it. In fact, sadness can actually raise creativity in a lot of individuals.


It’s important to know that not being ok is ok, so go ahead and belt out some of those sad songs. Please remember to stay healthy though, at times music just doesn’t cut it, the sad songs might even tear you down even more. If this is the case, please let someone know how you feel, don’t bottle it up forever.


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