Heavy metal music can actually help with depression and anger, not cause it

Singer Axl Rose (L) and bassist Duff McKagan perform at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Australian researchers have found that heavy metal music, long thought to exacerbate depression and anger, can actually have a calming effect.

A study by University of Queensland psychology honours student Leah Sharman and Dr Genevieve Dingle shows listeners mostly become inspired and calmed.

“We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions,” Sharman says. “When experiencing anger, extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger. The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired.”

Levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased with the music.

The study, in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, looked at 39 regular listeners of extreme music, aged 18 to 34.

Participants reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love and improve their well-being.

“All of the responses indicated that extreme music listeners appear to use their choice of music for positive self-regulatory purposes,” Sharman says.

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