Managing Post-Concert Depression and Breaking Free From the Hedonic Treadmill


You’ve counted the days to see your favorite musicians. You went to the electrifying concert and had the time of your life. But once the show is over, do you feel the surge of sadness and emptiness? 

This experience is common for many concert-goers and is commonly referred to as post-concert blues or post-concert depression. This can leave you in a bad mental state, where you can make bad financial decisions and experience low levels of flourishing and life satisfaction.

There are many ways for you to cope with this experience. However, hopping from one concert to another may be less ideal and possibly cause you to become stuck on the hedonic treadmill. 

Keep scrolling to learn more about post-concert depression, the hedonic treadmill, and practical ways to address these experiences more healthily.

Music and pleasure

Music is a stimulus that causes individuals to experience pleasure. A study showed that music allows individuals’ brains to release dopamine, commonly known as the “feel-good” hormone. This effect is similar when individuals experience tangible rewards such as food, money, or drugs, which eventually leads to craving for more. 

There are many ways for individuals to experience music, and attending live concerts is one of them. A study pointed out how live music events provide hedonic and eudaimonic outcomes. Hedonic well-being is the happiness that one obtains from present-moment pleasure and positive sensations. The hedonic outcomes that one could experience from live concerts are relaxation, comfort, fun, and pleasure.

On the other hand, eudaimonic well-being is the happiness that comes from having meaning, purpose, and personal growth. The eudaimonic impacts that live concerts generate are meaning, personal growth, expressiveness,  and self-actualization.

Nevertheless, too much of anything is never good. If you focus too much on the physical pleasures (hedonic well-being) of attending your concerts, you can drift further away from its eudaimonic aspects. This can cause you to fall into post-concert depression.

Understanding post-concert depression

Indeed, the pleasure one could obtain from music and all its attached experiences are beneficial. Unfortunately, like all good things, initial pleasure and positivity would eventually fade and lead you to long for that same happiness again. This could be the reason why concert-goers experience post-concert depression.

Despite having the word “depression,” this term is not a clinical diagnosis of depression after a concert. Post-concert disorder (PCD) is a popular term that most people use to describe the negative states one experiences after attending a concert. Usually, individuals in this state experience:

  • Sadness 
  • Emptiness
  • Lack of motivation, concentration, and excitement to return to normal life 
  • Fears of never experiencing the same emotional high again
  • Wanting to go back to the day the concert occurred

When experiencing PCD, some people may be motivated to go to other music concerts to cope with this negative experience. However, you must be more mindful before making this your go-to solution when experiencing PCD, as it could potentially make you stuck in an endless pursuit of a “hedonic treadmill.”

Understanding hedonic treadmill

The “hedonic treadmill” or “hedonic adaptation” is a phenomenon where individuals tend to pursue one pleasure after another.

This is because the initial surge of happiness after the concert experience eventually goes back to the stable baseline. This means that despite moving from one pleasure to another, individuals always get back to where they are (in terms of level of happiness), hence the use of the word “treadmill” in the concept.

The Hedonic treadmill is a human experience. However, going on a maladaptive and endless pursuit of pleasure would be less than ideal as it could generate several adverse such as:

  • Lower life satisfaction. Engaging in maladaptive pleasure-seeking behavior would lead to lower life satisfaction and decreased flourishing. This shows that pursuing pleasure does not guarantee one’s overall sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with life.
  • Unethical behaviors. A recent study explored the dark sides of the pursuit of happiness and found that people with hedonic motives are more likely to engage in unethical behavior. This is due to the strong association between hedonic motives and materialism, suggesting that individuals driven by hedonic motives may prioritize materialistic pursuits over ethical considerations.
  • Overconsumption. The hedonic treadmill would be able to drive individuals to overconsumption. When purchasing things that excite you, you may find yourself attempting to recapture that feeling by purchasing more things you do not necessarily need. The never-ending pursuit of happiness and fulfillment through material possessions could be harmful as it can result in financial strain

When experiencing PCD, you may be motivated to plan other concerts to attend to experience a similar hedonic experience. However, when you keep purchasing ticket after ticket and hopping from one concert to the next, you may realize that this activity no longer brings pleasure as it was before. 

While concerts are the main topic of this article, examples of the hedonic treadmill also apply to everyday life, such as:

  • The fixation on getting a raise
  • Experiencing  milestones in a relationship, such as getting engaged or married
  • Discovering new songs
  • Buying new and increasingly expensive things

This is why you should be more deliberate in deciding whether being stuck in the hedonic treadmill cycle is the solution for your PCD. 

Breaking free from the hedonic treadmill

Here are some ways for you to address PCD healthily without having to be stuck in an endless cycle of a hedonic treadmill:

Being grateful for the experience

Once the sadness and emptiness sink in, one way to cope is to practice gratitude. This means not dwelling on the things that have passed by and how you may never experience the same thing again. Here are some ways you could do so.

  • Reflect. Think back on the positive memories, acknowledge the enjoyment you acquire from them, and be grateful for being able to experience them.
  • Relive. You could relive the experience by rewatching the photos and videos you took on the day of the concert. 
  • Journal. Jot down the positive things that made you feel grateful in your journal. This could be a healthy outlet for you to bring back positive emotions.

Read more: From Gratitude to Life Satisfaction

Talk about it with fellow concert-goers

Another way to mitigate PCD is to talk about it with the friends you attend the concert with. If you went there alone, you could reach out to other fans through social media. You could talk about your favorite songs, moments, or interactions from that day, allowing you to recall the positive aspects of the experience. 

Best believe that you won’t be the only one who experienced the PCD. So, talking to them would also be a great way to handle the post-concert negative emotions. This would allow you both to address the negative emotions and realize that you are not alone. 

Realize that concerts are not your only source of happiness

Indeed, concerts may bring pleasure, but making this your sole source of happiness would eventually reduce its effect and may no longer be effective in navigating your PCD. Therefore, you should explore more activities that could bring you happiness. Here are a few of the many activities that could be your source of joy.

  • Hitting the gym
  • Traveling to other places
  • Reading exciting books

Additionally, in finding happiness, you must pay attention to eudaimonic activities.  A few examples of these activities are: 

  • Volunteering
  • Learning new skills
  • Engaging in creative pursuits

Basically, eudaimonic activities encompass things that pursue virtues and meaning, which generate long-term happiness instead of mere fleeting and temporary pleasure. 

Read more: Seeking Pleasure and The Pursuit of Happiness

Anticipate PCD

You can’t entirely avoid the upcoming PCD when you go to the next concert. However, you can anticipate it to avoid excessive PCD. This could be done by consciously acknowledging how this experience would be enjoyable and how it is normal for the excitement to eventually wear out afterward. 

Anticipating the negative emotions you could encounter would allow you to reduce the amount of discomfort that may come after the concerts.

In conclusion 

It is normal for individuals to experience a surge of negative emotions after experiencing a concert.

However, addressing the PCD by indulging in hedonic activities, such as hopping on to the next concerts over and over, would lead you to an endless cycle of a hedonic treadmill. Therefore, you must realize that the endless pursuit of materialistic things won’t be a sustainable way for you to address the PCD and achieve happiness.

So, when the post-show depression starts to hit, put down your credit cards, face the negative emotions, and diversify your source of happiness.

If you would like to see more resources on hedonic treadmill, check out the Happiness Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Happiness Science Labs today.

happiness science labs

Photo by on Freepik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.