Music Linked to Depression in Teens, Study Finds

Teenagers who spend more time listening to music are more likely to suffer from depression than kids who opt to spend their time reading, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study.

The study, which involved 106 participants, adds to the growing evidence that media exposure is linked to emotional health. Over a two-month period, researchers called the participants as many dozens of times and asked them to report what types of media they were using including television, music, video games, Internet, magazines and books.

And what they found was that the adolescents who spent the majority of their time listening to music were 8.3 times more likely to be depressed. On the other hand, those who read books the most were one-tenth as likely to be depressed.

"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. Either way, these findings may help clinicians and parents recognize links between media and depression," Dr. Briaqn Primack, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Pitt's School of Medicine, who led the study, said in a press release. "It also is important that reading was associated with less likelihood of depression. This is worth emphasizing because overall in the U.S., reading books is decreasing, while nearly all other forms of media use are increasing."

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability, and is thought to affect one in 12 teenagers.

The study is published in the April edition of the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.