New Study: Musicians Three Times More Likely to Be Depressed and Anxious

(Image credit: Damian Fanelli)

A new study published by Help Musicians UK, a charity for U.K. musicians, reveals that musicians and people who make their living in the music biz could be more than three times more likely to suffer from depression than everyone else.

The report, which is dubbed “Can Music Make You Sick?,” is based on a recent survey of 2,211 people by the U.K.'s University of Westminster and its think tank, MusicTank (the university actually has a music-themed think tank).

The findings suggest that “working in the music industry might indeed be making musicians sick,” according to the report. Reasons cited for respondents' depression include “poor working conditions,” including “the difficulty of sustaining a living, anti-social working hours, exhaustion and the inability to plan their time/future.” And then there's “a lack of recognition for one’s work and the welding of music and identity into one’s own idea of selfhood.”

In the words of one respondent: “My depression is made worse by trying to exist as a musician… Rarely has playing music been detrimental to my health, quite the opposite… but the industry and socio-economic pressures… make this a f*****g s**** industry to try and make a living in.”

And another: “I’m not sure I’d say it’s the music that makes me sick. It’s the lack of things I’d consider success. It’s the lack of support doing something that’s not considered ‘real work.’”

While the largest group of participants is self-identified as musicians (39 percent), the study also accounted for other music-biz roles, including management (9 percent), label or music publishing (7 percent), audio production (4 percent) and crew (2 percent).

The study paints a pretty grim picture, with 71 percent of respondents adding that they've experienced panic attacks or high levels of anxiety and 65 percent claiming to have suffered from depression. About 19 percent of the general population of the U.K. (one in five adults) has experienced anxiety or depression.

Read a summary of the study here.

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Guitar World Staff

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