Heavy Metal Music and Mental Health

heavy metal music and mental health

Heavy metal music may have a reputation of being aggressive, but studies have revealed it to reduce negative emotions and build thinking skills. A TikTok video by New York clinical psychologist Nicole Andreoli went viral and is now making rounds online.

Anger may come through in metal music, but its true message should be power, resilience, and hope. While metal has often been associated with anger and aggression, many fans use its songs to understand and manage intense feelings in healthy ways.

1. It Helps You Deal With Depression

Metal music often combines emotive lyrics with a dynamic, larger-than-life sound, making it the ideal way to channel intense emotions such as anger. Research has actually confirmed this theory – listening to metal can actually help process anger more productively while relieving stress: according to PsychCentral’s one study found listening to metal can diminish negative emotions while decreasing cortisol levels in your body.

Though often associated with stigma, metal music has proven its ability to help many fans cope with depression. Research shows that those who prefer this genre tend to be open to new experiences and appreciate complexity and unconventionality more readily. Metalheads tend to feel connected through their love for this music – often building lifelong friendships among fellow fans who share similar interests which has an overall positive effect on mental wellbeing.

Heavy metal music may lead to externalizing and unhealthy behaviors in its listeners, including aggression, defiance, drug use, antisocial relationships, depression and suicide attempts in certain psychiatric populations. A study revealed that listening to aggressive music predicts behavioral problems over time among male adolescents.

Although these findings may be alarming, it’s important to keep in mind that much of the research in this area relies on correlational evidence and cannot establish causal links. Furthermore, relationships between music-based emotion regulation strategies and problematic behaviors vary according to individual characteristics (gender and personality traits).

Under no circumstance should we underestimate the beneficial impact that music can have on young people’s mental health. Youth Music research has consistently demonstrated this; listening and creating music have proven themselves an excellent way to lift mood, form communities, promote wellbeing and provide cathartic release for many people regardless of genre or genre preference. One successful approach may even be turning towards difficult emotions instead of running from them altogether – something metalhead communities offer particularly well with resources sharing, sharing stories as well as nonjudgmental environments where everyone feels welcome.

2. It Helps You Deal With Anger

Metal fans have often been accused of being overly “angry”, yet this genre actually helps them manage their anger and frustration more effectively. According to one study that concluded listening to metal music reduced hostility levels among listeners suggests its cathartic effect helps process difficult emotions such as anger.

Metal music tends to be associated with an optimistic, resilient, and positive personality which could contribute to its ability to counteract negative emotions such as anger and depression. Furthermore, it should be noted that contrary to popular perception, female fans make up one third of metal fandom, with gigs hosting families, disabled people, older individuals as well.

New York-based clinical psychologist and therapist shared a TikTok clip explaining how listening to heavy metal music helps reduce stress, foster critical thinking and allow listeners to express their anger more easily. Her explanation has since gone viral and corroborated earlier research on this subject.

Another study concluded that listening to heavy metal can quickly help you relax after experiencing trauma, while a survey by UK charity Samaritans found metalheads felt supported within their fandom community, something which can have incredible advantages in improving mental health in times of isolation or loneliness.

Studies show that metal can trigger aggression in mice; however, researchers have observed the opposite in humans. This may be attributed to differences in how we process complex music versus mice or it could simply be that humans possess an ethical compass which prevents us from reacting aggressively in response to an arousal caused by metal.

Studies notwithstanding, it’s evident that some metalheads experience more difficult emotional states than others and therefore it is essential that they receive support in form of friends, family or community groups as well as professional services like psychotherapy and medication to help cope with these difficulties.

3. It Helps You Deal With Stress

Heavy metal music is known to release endorphins – chemicals found in your brain which stimulate pleasure. Furthermore, this form of music may encourage self-love no matter the societal standards may dictate. Many metal bands also encourage their followers to embrace themselves no matter their size or shape.

Although metal music has many positive attributes, its listeners can also experience higher anxiety levels when listening to it for the first time. According to one study conducted on non-listeners of metal music (unfamiliar with its violent imagery and lyrics). But regular listeners did not experience an increase in anxiety levels when listening to metal for the first time after being exposed to stressful situations. Regular metal fans did not experience this same spike. This may have been caused by unfamiliarity of this musical genre compared with classical or silence after experiencing stressors.

There has been much discussion surrounding the effects of metal music on mental health. While some studies suggest fans of the genre tend to engage in antisocial behaviours, other research shows otherwise. A self-report study using two measurement points found that while listening to metal music was associated with externalizing behaviors among adolescent males listening at two intervals was no predictor at either measurement point – factors like socioeconomic status, alcohol/drug use and depression played more of a role than listening at first measurement point for externalizing behaviors among males who listened at two intervals than listening at its first measurement point.

Studies conducted in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence concluded that listening to heavy metal music may increase suicidal thoughts; however, this correlation does not stem from listening alone; rather aggressive themes found within some metal songs can actually promote feelings of control over life events.

Metal music could provide an effective metaphor for how some individuals cope with difficulties, as its extreme emotions and experiences could serve as an apt visual for this process. For instance, lyrics in some metal songs refer to being on “the Stairway to Heaven or Highway to Hell,” suggesting these individuals possessing the strength necessary to surpass their problems and move beyond them.

4. It Helps You Deal With Anxiety

Heavy metal music can be an energetic and engaging form of expression. With emotionally charged lyrics that can help people to process their feelings and vent anger, the genre provides many fans with a means of acceptance into an accepted community of fellow metal heads that may help ease feelings of isolation or anxiety.

Concerns have been expressed that listening to heavy metal may contribute to externalising behaviors like aggression and delinquency, yet these concerns often do not take into account other contributing factors like poor family relations, drug abuse, feelings of alienation and depression. Furthermore, correlational research can be difficult to interpret while causal inferences may prove challenging when musical preferences cannot be controlled for (e.g. comparing metalhead experiences with non-fan experiences).

As previously discussed, metal music and aggressive themes may be further connected due to its listeners being socially disengaged from mainstream culture and having alternative lifestyles – these factors may explain why so many studies find that fans tend to exhibit more aggressive or delinquent behaviors than non-fans, even when controlling for other factors.

Studies have demonstrated that listening to metal music can significantly lower symptoms of anxiety. This may be attributed to its positive influence on mood; studies suggest its repetitive and rhythmic melodies stimulate neural networks related to positive emotion regulation, making metal an ideal treatment option for anxiety disorders like OCD and PTSD.

Studies have also demonstrated the benefits of listening to metal can help improve cognitive function, particularly concentration and focus. Its complex compositions and technical musicianship may account for this phenomenon.

Although there is compelling evidence supporting the beneficial impact of metal on mental health, negative attitudes remain commonplace within psychiatric settings. Therefore, it is essential that this evidence informs clinical practice without alienating vulnerable metalheads who identify with this genre.