The Correlation between Music Habits and Mental Health

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There is new research that reveals that a person’s music listening habits has the capacity to reveal a substantial amount about their mental health. A recent study published by the Academy of Finland revealed that men who process existing negative feelings through music tend to react to sad and aggressive music in a negative manner.

What makes these new findings so significant is the fact that the ability to manage emotions is a vital component to effectively managing mental health.

Mental Health Directly Affected by Music Listening Habits

Based on the data released in the most recent study on the impact of music on mental health, men seem to be more affected by their music listening habits than women. The use of brain imaging revealed that different types of music are able to produce different types of neural responses, allowing for predictable regulation of emotions. The most prevalent findings of the study reveal that men, especially, react negatively to aggressive and sad music.

The Importance of Emotion Regulation

While it has been expected for some time that music could impact a person’s mood, this new information is immensely promising for mental health professionals as far as emotion regulation is concerned. Based on a recent article published in the University Herald, the ability to regulate emotion and emotional response is essential to developing and sustaining mental health.

The inability to effectively regulate emotions is directly associated with a number of psychiatric mood disorders, including the most prevalent — depression. If you are dealing with some type of mood disorder, a clinical music therapist will be able to use uplifting, positive and empowering music to regulate your mood, as well as your emotional stability and responses.

Rumination — the act of continually thinking over negative things — has been directly linked to the development of poor mental health conditions. Listening to certain types of music, such as music that produces sadness, can increase the frequency and intensity of suicidal ideation as well.

Using Music to Improve Mental Health Disorders

While listening to sad and aggressive music has proven to produce negative emotional responses in men, listening to relaxing music with a positive and empowering message has the ability to reduce rumination, suicidal ideation and a number of other negative mood-related behaviors.

By using brain imaging data, researchers were able to measure and monitor the manner in which music listening habits were able to directly impact different brain functions that are related to mood and emotion.

These new scientific findings open the door for music therapy to play a more integral role in dealing with a number psychological disorders that are associated with emotion and mood — having a monumental impact on long-term mental health treatment.

They also provide a foundation on which clinical therapist will be able to identify the origin of certain mood-related mental disorders. Additionally, even when music is identified as a contributor to a particular mental disorder, simply adjusting a person’s listening habits can actually treat and counter the existing condition.

It is worth noting that these findings suggest that men should avoid listening to aggressive and sad music, as these types of music seem to promote neuroticism and anxiety.


(1) Carlson, E. (2015). Music Listening Habits Tell about Mental Health. Academy of Finland.

(2) Unknown. (2015, October 22). Music Listening Habits May Reveal Mental Health Status. University Herald.

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