A new study from scientists in Finland and Denmark looking at the effects of music on emotional states like anxiety, neuroticism and depression has found that a significant number of us use music (whether consciously or unconsciously) to regulate or deal with our emotions. Most people prefer happy upbeat music which has been shown in past experiments to help elevate our mood. Indeed we have been using music in one of our techniques for dealing with anxiety triggers for years with stunning success.
This study however shows that people who habitually listen to sad, ‘moody' or aggressive music are significantly more likely to suffer from anxiety and neuroticism than those that don’t.
Importantly the researchers also discovered during fMRI studies that such music suppresses part of the brain that helps us regulate or change our emotions. This effect was particularly prevalent in men.
This means that sad and aggressive music not only induces anxiety but can also prevent us from getting out of anxious and down moods.
Carlson E, Saarikallio S., Toiviainen P., Bogert B., Kliuchko M., and Brattico E. (2015) Maladaptive and adaptive emotion regulation through music: a behavioral and neuroimaging study of males and females. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 9:466. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00466