Study: Listening to a lot of music may be an indicator of teen depression

Teenagers who spend the majority of their time listening to music are more likely to be depressed than those who spend the majority of their time reading, according to a new study.

Researchers spent 8 weeks calling 106 teenagers – half of which were diagnosed with clinical depression – up to 60 times a week to ask them what they were doing. It came to no surprise that the teenagers spent a majority of their time using some form of media. On average, the teens spent 7.5 hours a day watching TV, surfing the internet, texting, and listening to music.

What did come as a surprise was that contrary to earlier studies, TV watching did not seem to have any correlation with depression but music did.

Lead author of the study pediatrician Brian Primack says, “They don’t have a lot of energy, and this is a place where they can go and they don’t have to perform.”

On average, the teens spent 9 percent of their time listening to music. But those who listened to a lot of music were found to be 8 times as likely to be depressed than teens who weren’t listening very often. Teenagers who read were less likely to be diagnosed with depression, but they were also the minority at only 0.2 percent saying they were engaged in reading material.

Primack says if a teen is listening to lot of music, it may be a key indicator for parents that they are suffering from depression. Teenagers have different ways of showing depression than adults that can be overlooked and harder to diagnose.

To read the full article, “What Come First: Depression in Teens or Emo Music?” click here.

To read the study, “Using Ecological Momentary Assessment to Determine Media Use by Individuals with and without Major Depressive Disorder,” click here.

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3 Responses to “Study: Listening to a lot of music may be an indicator of teen depression”

  1. This makes a lot of sense. The “hot medium” of music makes it so that they don’t have to engage or interpret much from what they are hearing. It is the perfect type of “escape” from what is dragging them down. With their music, they can go to a place to either confirm or deny their angst, without much effort, interaction, and physical/emotional engagement. It is also a way they can isolate themselves and insulate themselves with messages that support their negative feelings. I think as parents, we always need to be aware of how much time is spent and to what type of music our children are listening too. Great article. Thanks.

  2. Erica says:

    Television may not have won out for control over young minds because it tells you what to see, hear, and think. However with music you seem more free. The person singing to you uses lyrics guided from their own life experiences, their own soul and many times, teens connect with this(e.g. rap, angst music, some hard metal). As a teenager you can form your own worlds in your mind and and no one is listening…

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