Thought for the Day: On Tuesday, I asked two questions related to music and depression. The second bonus question and answer reveal a bit of my sense of humor as I comment on the final season of Breaking Bad. The serious trivia question (most of you know by now that none of my trivia questions are trivial) was:
What kind of music improves mood and reduces depression?
a) upbeat, happy music,
b) sad music,
c) rock & roll, or
The answer is b) sad music improves mood and reduces depression.
There are three major reasons it appears to help reduce depression. First, when we are feeling sad, we often obsess about the issues that are making us unhappy. Stuck in a rut, we keep repeating the memories of what is bothering us. When we listen to music, it forces us to think about the lyrics of the sad song and distracts us from our own personal tragedy. In addition, according to Valorie Salimpoor, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology and neuroscience at McGill University who has studied the impact of music on mood, music activates and boosts the levels of dopamine in our brains. She says that, “Dopamine gets us excited and motivated...(and) music provides a natural high.”The third reason that music reduces depression, is that it makes us feel understood and therefore, less alone.
See more on the impact of music on depression.
That being said, (and diverting my creative energy to a humorous note, which I embrace whenever it catches my fancy) what music should Walter White from Breaking bad be listening to? Walter has quite a few reasons to be feeling depressed. In the 1st episode of the season, Walter was acting like he was very happy. Given his situation, his behavior indicates a serious case of denial barely covering up his depression. Walter's cancer has returned. He is hiding the fact that he is back in chemotherapy from his family, so he may be dying. He has murdered or had others murder multiple people. He has lied to his loved ones repeatedly. He's finally been caught in his lies by his brother-in-law who is intent on prosecuting him. Surely, he has more reasons than most people to be depressed. Those of you who have followed my Saturday's Songs for the Soul series know that I love music. I went searching for some songs that Walter might want to add to his play list. I found one that I'd like to share with you today. The song, "Hurt, " written by Trent Reznor was first released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album The Downward Spiral. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996. The song which was covered by Johnny Cash in 2002 was one of Cash's final hit releases before his death. What do you think? Could this song help Walter White deal with his predicament? (In case you are wondering what the answer to the bonus question is, any of the answers could fit!)