Music linked to adolescent depression

Adolescents who spend more time listening to music are far more likely to have major depressive disorder, a U.S. medical study says.

Kids who read books less depressed: study

Music may contribute to major depression among adolescents, says a new study done in the U.S.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that adolescents who spend more time listening to music are far more likely to have major depressive disorder, while young people who spend more time reading books are far less likely to have such a diagnosis. 

The findings add to the growing body of research linking emotional health to media exposure.

A boy listens to music. Music is more likely than reading books to be linked to depression in young people, says a U.S. "real-life" study. (istock)

"At this point, it is not clear whether depressed people begin to listen to more music to escape, or whether listening to large amounts of music can lead to depression, or both," said Dr. Brian Primack, the lead researcher on the study. "Either way, these findings may help clinicians and parents recognize links between media and depression."

The researchers found that young people who were exposed to the most music, compared with those who listened to music the least, were 8.3 times more likely to be depressed. Those who read books the most were one-tenth as likely to be depressed.

The study involved 106 adolescents, 46 of whom were diagnosed with major depressive disorder. It was different from most studies because the researchers used a method called "real life," which involved calling the participants as many as 60 times over five extended weekends to ask what kind of media they were consuming.

It was published in the April edition of the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The study was supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the RAND-University of Pittsburgh Health Institute. 

Major depressive disorder, also referred to as clinical or major depression, is thought to affect one in 12 teenagers, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.