Teens In After-School Arts Programs More Likely To Report Depression [Study]

depressed man

Teenagers who are prone to feelings of depression or sadness are more likely to participate in music, art, or drama as extracurricular activities rather than in other programs according to a new study.

Despite the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” teens who play sports were least likely to experience depressive symptoms according to the same study. Apparently teens who did both arts and sports were also depressed, however.

In reaching this conclusion, researchers examined data from 2,482 students 15 to 16 years old, both girls and boys, derived from the U.S. Longitudinal Survey of Youth over the last ten years or so.

Medical News Today explains how depression was identified in this teen cohort:

“The students responded to survey questions asking how often they participated in ‘lessons in music, art or drama, or practice of music, singing, drama, drawing/painting’ and “going to sports lessons, playing sports or practicing any physical activity’ after school…

“To determine rates of depressive symptoms, the survey asked teens how often they experienced various moods or problems associated with depression, such as poor appetite, difficulty concentrating, downcast mood, lack of energy or motivation, restless sleep and sadness”

The study authors suggested in general that teens with a creative side have a more sensitive nature and therefore depression could follow. They also underscored, however, that depression is not an “necessary condition”for a teenager or even an adult to become an artist.

Lead author Linda N. Young of Boston College outlined the implications of the study:

“When positive behaviors such as being involved in the arts are associated with symptoms of mental illness, it’s essential that we understand why. Further research can address the question of whether potential psychological vulnerabilities can be transformed into strengths through the practice of the arts.”

Young did note, however, that according to previous research findings, higher rates of mental illness symptoms exist in adult artists than apparently in the general public.

The study was just published in the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts journal.

Based on this study, do you think a teenager should ditch the drama club or the band in favor of going out for football, basketball, or baseball?

[Image credit: Idontknowtheworldtoday]