Depression in Teens, Major Depressive Disorder, and Popular Music –Could Excessive Music Raise The Risk?

Excessive time listening to popular music correlates with depression in teens (Major Depressive Disorder - MDD).

Excessive time listening to popular music correlates with depression in teens (Major Depressive Disorder – MDD).

In a scientific study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, researchers reached the conclusion that there is a strong correlation between depression in teens, that is, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and the length of time spent by an adolescent listening to popular music. (Major Depressive Disorder is also referred to as “clinical depression”).

On the other hand, it also concluded that reading books reduced the risk of having a Major Depressive Disorder. The results of the study can be read in its entirety in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in its April, 2011 issue.

Through the use of telephone interviews, data was gathered from one-hundred six teenagers whose ages range from 7 to 17 years, and was conducted within a period of eight weeks. This particular study was a component of a larger neurobehavioral study regarding depression in teens that was conducted from 2003 to 2008, part of the Child and Adolescent Depression and Anxiety study made at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

In the study, it was found that for every quartile of listening to audio or music, there was an 80% rise in the possibility of acquiring Major Depression (MDD) or clinical depression. On the other hand, if time is spent reading, the risk of acquiring MDD is lowered by 50%.

The study does not prove a cause-effect relationship between music and depression in teens, but rather a correlational one. It is possible that persons who are music lovers are more prone to acquire Major Depression, or that those who have Major Depression tend to seek solace listening to music. This notwithstanding, the researchers feel that there is definitely a relationship between the amount of time teens listen to pop music and Major Depression.

There may be many reasons for this. Science proves that music affects brain chemistry, which is not necessarily a negative. However, overdoing anything can be taxing on the mind (or body), and this may be the case with overdoing it with music, much of it carrying strong emotions—both in the music itself, and in the message of many songs.

This study will help parents, teachers, and mental health practitioners to encourage children, teenagers and young adults to spend additional time reading and to lessen time spent listening to popular music. The ear-piece and headphones are ubiquitous gadgets, while reading is often out with teens, and listening to music is in. The kind of music a teenager listens to may also have a bearing on the depressive affect on the teen mind.

For health care professionals and educators who are on the alert for signs of teen depression, observing teens who spend more time than average listening to popular music, they can be ready to help teens make necessary adjustments.

References for Teen Depression and Popular Music

AYCNP page – Time Listening to Popular Music Correlated with Major Depression – Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) – in Adolescents. 

Primack, B., MD, et all. Using Ecological Momentary Assessment to Determine Media Use by Individuals With and Without Major Depressive Disorder. (2011, April 4). JAMA Pediatrics.

A synopsis of his study can be read in Overcoming ADHD Without Medication.

Leave a Reply