A UPMC study released April 4 indicates that teens who listened to the most music were 8.3 times more likely to be depressed than the teens who listened the least. The study, led by UPMC doctor Brian Primack, examined 106 teens, 46 of whom had been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. Primack talked to City Paper about the study.
What was the genesis for this study?
Media exposure has been increasing exponentially, especially [with] adolescents. Some people are deeply affected by music: We would hear people say they go to music when they feel depressed, so we thought there might be some link there.
How did you figure out how much music the teen-agers were listening to?
It's hard, even if someone is being honest, to recall how much TV you've been watching or how much music you've been listening to. So we gave the research subjects cell phones and called them 60 times in a five-week period to ask them what they were doing right at that moment. By doing that, we were sampling their natural environment.
So should people be wary of listening to too much music?
There was nothing in the study to suggest that music is bad in any way. In fact, it's an extremely valuable form of therapy. Music invokes so many emotions and that's not a problem, but I think we need to understand the relationship better so we can help people better utilize music if it is important and valuable to them.