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The music you listen to may be affecting your mental health

Enjoy having a little cry to some Lana? That might not be a good idea

We all know that music has an effect on our mood. It's why we put on Adele when we've been dumped, or Drake when we want to “dance”, or Lana Del Rey when our lovers have died under tragic circumstances. However, according to new research, music's mood-altering power may actually be a whole lot more than that – in fact, it may even be having a serious long-term effect on our mental health. 

According to new findings published in this month's Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, people with a penchant for sad or aggressive music may experience significantly higher anxiety or neuroticism than those who listen to happier types of music.

The study – which took place at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Music Research at the University of Jyväskylä, Aalto University in Finland and Aarhus University in Denmark – tested the neural activity of participants while they listened to happy, sad or fearful sounding music. It then compared the results to several markers of mental health – including anxiety, neuroticism and depression. 

“These results show a link between music listening styles and mPFC activation, which could mean that certain listening styles have long-term effects on the brain,” explains professor Elvira Brattico, the senior author of the study.

“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,” added co-author and music therapist Emily Carlson. 

“(We hope our work) encourages everyone to think about the how the different ways they use music might help or harm their own well-being.”