Youth at risk of depression are more likely to listen habitually and repetitively to heavy metal music, according to research by Dr. Katrina McFerran of the University of Melbourne.
For the study, McFerran, a senior lecturer in Music Therapy at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, conducted in-depth interviews with 50 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 and combined this information with a national survey of 1,000 young people.
Her goal is to create an early intervention model that can be brought into schools to positively impact teens before behavioral problems occur.
“The mp3 revolution means that young people are accessing music more than ever before and it’s not uncommon for some to listen to music for seven or eight hours a day,” she said.
“Most young people listen to a range of music in positive ways; to block out crowds, to lift their mood or to give them energy when exercising, but young people at risk of depression are more likely to be listening to music, particularly heavy metal music, in a negative way.”
“Examples of this are when someone listens to the same song or album of heavy metal music over and over again and doesn’t listen to anything else. They do this to isolate themselves or escape from reality,” McFerran adds.
“If this behavior continues over a period of time then it might indicate that this young person is suffering from depression or anxiety, and at worst, might suggest suicidal tendencies.”
McFerran believes that parents should be aware of their children’s choices in music so they can detect early warning signs and take action.
“If parents are worried, they should ask their children questions like, ‘How does that music make you feel?’ If children say the music reflects or mirrors the way they feel then ask more about what the music is saying,” she said.
“If listening doesn’t make them feel good about themselves, this should ring alarm bells. Alternatively, if parents notice a downturn in their child’s mood after listening to music this is also a cause for showing interest and getting involved,” added McFerran.
Source: University of Melbourne