Walking around downtown Nashville, Tennessee, my friends and I talked about our nervousness about Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert that night. “It’s going to change my life, and I’m just not prepared for that,” I half-joked.
Now, after the show, I can confirm that the Eras Tour has impacted me mentally, and I’m not the only one. Tons of TikTok creators have posted videos about how they “do not remember a single thing” or how the concert coming to an end was “the worst” — and not just because they didn’t hear “Clean” as a surprise song. (Personally, I’m only a little upset about that.)
Though this might sound silly to those who don’t get the hype, psychological research explains how big events can impact your mind and mood. Speaking to HuffPost, experts shared some ways you might be affected and why.
Can’t remember chunks of the concert? You’re not alone. You may have heard this referred to as post-concert “amnesia.”
″[It] isn’t a real clinical diagnosis as much as it is a social and cultural phenomenon involving how a person responds to either a high-stress situation or a scenario where one can become overly excited or hyper-aroused,” said Star Bond, a licensed psychotherapist.
And it makes scientific sense. At concerts, you’re bombarded with stimuli, including from being packed alongside thousands of people.
“This can lead to complete sensory overload, which in turn triggers a massive influx of cortisol, the stress hormone,” Bond said. “Research shows when cortisol levels are high, executive functioning becomes compromised, which also interrupts normative memory processing and consolidation.”
Another way to explain it: With all those stimuli, our brains don’t feel a need to prioritize memory, or have the “space” for it. You may have noticed this in school, too.
“The effects of the arousal of the experience may not allow for our brains to make hard, factual memories of details that we might expect to recall later, such as learning names or details in preparing for an exam,” said Dr. Joey Gee, a neurologist with Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California.
This isn’t all bad, though. In fact, it’s a sign that you fully immersed yourself in the experience.
“Essentially, our attention and focus tend to be on enjoying an event and not necessarily on the details,” Gee added. “It’s more about having a great experience, which is what matters.”
Here’s possibly the most important question for fans: Will the memories come back? According to Dr. Faisal Tai, a board-certified psychiatrist and the CEO of PsychPlus, the answer is maybe.
“It’s certainly possible that select memories from such an experience will come back to people over time, especially if they discuss the concert with others who were there, relive the experience in their minds or watch a video of the concert to jog their memories,” he said.
But in general, you probably don’t need to be concerned that something is wrong.
“In a state such as this, people usually remember snippets of an experience, as opposed to hours of very specific memory,” Tai said. “This is a natural way for the memory to work and certainly no cause for alarm.”
“Our attention and focus tend to be on enjoying an event and not necessarily on the details. It’s more about having a great experience, which is what matters.”
– Dr. Joey Gee, neurologist
Another example of something that’s not really diagnosable — but still a valid and common experience — is “post-concert depression.” In a recent study of PCD, registered psychometrician Lyen Krenz Yap found that the end of concerts could lead to feelings of discouragement about the return to normal life, fears of never having the same emotional high again, and other struggles.
Possible symptoms of PCD include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, experiencing the stages of grief, and a longing to return to the show, as well as feeling sad, empty or disconnected, according to Teri Wilder, a therapist with Thriveworks in Lafayette, Indiana.
“I think of it like a mix of grief and the blues, but not fully depression as we define it,” said Dr. Jessi Gold, an associate professor and director of wellness, engagement and outreach in the psychiatry department at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“Some people refer to it as the ‘letdown effect,’” added Gold, who attended one of the Eras Tour shows in Chicago.
The term, she said, refers to “having mobilized energy anticipating and then completing the event, and afterward, instead of feeling excited it is over and that you went, you feel let down.”
You may experience similar feelings after other big events, like a wedding, graduation or marathon, she noted.
Here’s what happens: You get a rush of positive brain chemicals in the excitement leading up to the concert — planning your outfit, booking a hotel, making sure you know every single lyric — and are bound to crash after, as some TikTokers have shared.
“Once the activity ends, there is often a sharp dip in these chemicals in the brain, which cause individuals to feel more depressed and down by relative comparison,” said Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist in New York City.
Adrenaline comes into play too, and can last well after Swift sings “Karma” to end an Eras show.
“When the concert is over, your adrenaline does not go away immediately, and that excess can make you feel restless or irritable initially,” Gold said. “But later ― hours, days even ― returning to the real world can cause you to crash and [feel] like you just ran a marathon. … You might feel flat or depleted.”
Gold added that there’s a difference between depression symptoms — such as sadness — and depression as a disorder, which has multiple criteria.
“You can feel depressed after a concert without having major depression,” she said. “Feeling sad is normal, especially after these kinds of big events, and it is important that we acknowledge that.”
PCD may take a few days to pop up and could last up to a week, according to Gold. In other words, once your life gets back to normal, you’ll probably feel better — and if not, the problem might be due to preexisting depression, she said.
Post-Concert Separation Anxiety
Anxiety is another common response after concerts. In the research by Yap, a majority of study participants felt separation anxiety in the weeks following an event.
“After having a sense of closeness and connection with the idol, the immediate separation when the concert ended can cause a bit of separation anxiety,” Wilder said, adding that these positive feelings among the crowd are “dispersed” as everyone leaves.
How To Cope With The Aftereffects
If you’re struggling with any of these phenomena, you may be upset — and understandably so. After an incredible experience, who wants to feel down and unable to focus on the highlight reels?
To help you handle those feelings, experts shared these recommendations:
- Revisit your concert memories with friends.
- Reflect on the experience as a whole.
- Listen to Swift’s music.
- Practice general self-care (by meditating, exercising, staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, getting enough sleep, and being grateful).
- Talk to friends or family members who will be empathetic.
- Boost your endorphin levels in other ways (with things like sex, yoga, a massage or a funny TV show).
- Plan other events and outings to look forward to.
- Find group settings that make you happy, such as fitness classes and hangouts with friends or family.
- Interact with fellow Swifties online.
- Savor the memories by sharing photos with loved ones, making friendship bracelets or creating art out of items from the event (like confetti, tickets and printed pictures).
If you haven’t seen the show yet, here are some ways the experts said you can be proactive:
- Do lots of planning and get there early so you don’t have to rush to the stadium.
- Be mindful of what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling.
- Take any steps that can lessen your stress levels.
- Mentally prepare for the possibility that you’ll feel low, anxious or unable to recall memories after the concert.
- Maintain other interests and hobbies — in other words, try not to make Swift your whole personality. (That’s easier said than done, I know!)
Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.