Why do we listen to sad songs when we are feeling sad?

Sad Music

Just like art, movies and books, we use music to express our loss.

There was a research conducted by Van den Tol and Jane Edwards about people who listen to sad music when they are already feeling upset. Haven’t we all been on the same page, repeating sad songs after something bad happened?

Sure, our family and neighbours hate that, but what do we get from listening to sad songs when the feeling is already present there? Let’s take a look:


We seem to identify our emotions by a sad melody or it’s lyrics. We build a connection with sad songs to accept our feelings and whatever is going on in our life. Either we are feeling upset, betrayed or lost, sad songs are repeated in our playlist more than happy songs. We also use sad songs to fix our problems and sort out our emotions by identifying them.

Sad songs are a way of understanding that we are not alone in a particular situation. They teach us that something similar to our situation has occurred to someone else before.


A person recognising their negative emotions and turning them into positivity is called cognitive reappraisal. When we listen to sad music with a message, we use cognitive reappraisal to overcome our sadness. The message in the song gives us hope, if someone else has stood through those hard times, I can too.

Beautiful melody:

We prefer beautiful tunes and lyrics when we are feeling down. It is believed that sad music gives us a relaxed, calm and soothing feeling. These feelings distract us from our current situations and take us to another world for a different experience. The more beautiful the song is, the more concentration will be focussed on it, hence, distracting us from the real situation.

Memory trigger:

Sad songs are often used to trigger some memories from the past. We feel the need to re-experience the situation, remember our partners, friends, and go through the feeling of nostalgia. When we recall and connect with our memories, we end up understanding our own emotions. It helps us to let go of our repressed, built up emotions.

We find the meaning of our pain through sad songs. Our regions of the brain give a unique response to sad songs and release dopamine which is a chemical released upon pleasure. Our connection and reaction to a song truly depends on our mood, personality and environment. If we are in a happy mood, we won’t be able to connect with a sad song or our emotions. But when we are already sad, sad songs will help us know about our feelings and connect with our experiences to let go of the pent-up emotions.

Even though sad music helps us in many situations, but too much of anything leads to damage. Excessive listening to sad songs can lead to negative thoughts, emotions, and depression.

Do you listen to sad music and how does it make you feel? Which sad song is the most you can relate to?

Drop down your answers in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

Team Doctor ASKY!


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