Listening to music in groups influences Depression: Study

Washington: Recent study digs into how music influences depression when listened to in a group.

The findings published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that listening to music together with others has many social benefits, including creating and strengthening interpersonal bonds. It has previously been shown that enjoying music in a group setting has an impact on social relationships.

The researchers investigated the self-reported effects on mood that comes with listening to sad music in group settings, and how mood is influenced by thoughts, depression, and coping style.

They recruited 697 participants who completed an online survey about “their ways of using music, types of musical engagement and the effect of music listening.” The participants also completed a number of additional questionnaires, which helped the researchers determine factors such as the presence of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress; general tendencies towards depression; coping styles, i.e. tendencies towards reflection.

The researcher came to the conclusion that when listening to sad music and talking about sad things, it made people feel more depressed and listening to inspiring music in a group and engaging in discussions about music and life had a more positive effect and made people feel good.

Sandra Garrido, one of the co-authors, further explained how people with depression use music, and why, she said, “Behaviours relating to music use fall into distinct patterns, reflecting either healthy or unhealthy thought processes, These results reveal important information about how people with depression use music. The results shine a light on how music can facilitate the sharing of negative emotions, and show that the outcome is related to the coping styles and thinking patterns used in each setting, meaning that people with generally maladaptive coping styles are more likely to experience negative outcomes from group cogitation of music.”
“While young people with tendencies to depression, who are a part of social groups may be perceived as receiving valuable social support, our results here suggest that the positive impacts of such group interactions depend on the types of processes that are taking place in the group,” explained Garrido.

The findings help in clarifying under what conditions social interaction around music provide social benefits, and when it might instead amplify negative emotions and shows that young people may especially be susceptible to the impact of group reflections with music.