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Study Finds Musicians More Likely to Suffer Mental Illness

A new report says musicians could be up to three times more likely to suffer from depression than the general public.
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Musicians could be up to three times more likely to suffer from depression than the general public, according to new findings from the University of Westminster.

In a study called "Can Music Make You Sick?," researchers found that 68.5 percent of musicians believed they had experienced depression, while 71.1 percent believed they had experienced anxiety and panic attacks. These figures starkly contrast with the 19 percent of people in the UK aged 16 or older who had said they had experienced anxiety or depression, according to data from the Office for National Statistics gathered between 2010 and 2013.


Of the 2,211 self-identified musicians across the UK who responded to the online survey, 52.7 percent said they found it difficult to get help, while 54.8 percent believed there were gaps in the help that was available to them.

The study author Sally Anne Gross told THUMP about its particular relevance for electronic music. "The working conditions for DJs from the bottom rung up seem to be experienced as highly stressful," she said via email. "Just getting a slot and then hoping to get paid, then trying to get traction and attention, the constant demands to be 'on' at all times. Nightlife with all its highs and lows—the pitfalls make it very hard to maintain any kind of good health. The impact on mental health is clear."

In a statement summarizing the report's findings, the authors concluded that the music industry could have a negative impact on mental health. "These early, preliminary findings suggest that music, and by this we mean working in, or having ambitions to work in, the music industry, might indeed be making musicians sick, or at least contribute towards their levels of mental ill-health," they said.

The report was co-presented by the UK non-profit information resource MusicTank and commissioned by the charity Help Musicians UK.

Artists ranging from deadmau5 to Avicii and Benga have publicly fought with mental issues in recent times. THUMP recently explored how touring affects artists' mental health.

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