Arty Teens More Prone to Depression

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  December 19, 2012 at 11:46 AM Health Watch   - G J E 4
Scientists have established that 'arty' students are likely to feel more depressed in comparison to their sporty counterparts.

Teenagers are known to be troubled and those troubled teenagers who enjoy arts are often stereotyped as angst -ridden.
Arty Teens More Prone to Depression
Arty Teens More Prone to Depression

Earlier studies have revealed that adult artists exhibit higher rates of mental illness symptoms. The present study was carried out to see if the link between art and mental illness is established early on in life.

The study carried out by researchers at Boston College, is the first of its kind to link music, drama and art with symptoms of mental illness in teens and young adults. The research analyzed the involvement of American teenagers in extracurricular activities during the years 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. For this purpose they used data from the U.S. Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

The study included 2,482 students who participated in a survey about frequency of participation 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 hours. The answers ranged from 'often' to 'almost never.'

To analyze symptoms of depression the teens were asked how often they experienced various mood changes, downcast mood, poor appetite, difficulty concentrating, sadness, lack of energy or motivation and restless sleep. 

Girls have been found to be artier than boys and enjoyed their after-school music and drama. It was more than a coincidence that girls reported higher rates of depression in comparison to boys. It also found that boys and girls who were inclined towards arts were likely to feel more depressed than those who were not.

According to lead author Laura Young,  depression is not a prerequisite for the young to become an artist, nor does being in the arts lead to mental illness.

The present study also reports that teens who indulged in sports were least likely to report symptoms of depression or other mental illness. However, there was no difference between arty teenagers who participated in sports with those who did not, showing that an absence of exercise was not the deciding factor.

There is no clear-cut explanation linking arts and symptoms of mental illness. One theory is that people who are arty may be taking in a higher than average level of information from their surroundings. Although this cognitive trait would allow a person to have a heightened awareness of the self and the surroundings and to be more expressive and creative, it may give way to distress and depression. Also, introvert people are likely to take up solitary activities and may not prefer sports.

Further research is required to find out if the psychological vulnerabilities of these people can be transformed into positive traits through the practice of art.

The results of the research have been published by the American Psychological Association.

Source: Medindia

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