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Musicians are 3 times More Likely to Suffer from Depression


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In a recent study conducted by the University of Westminster, it has been found that there is crisis in mental health within the U.K. music industry that is at alarming levels. The study, “Can Music Make You Sick” was commissioned by Help Musicians UK. It looks at how having a career in the music industry impacts upon the mental health of musicians.

 

2,211 musicians took part in the study. Researchers Sally-Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave revealed that 71.1% of musicians have suffered from anxiety or panic attacks, while 68.5% have suffered with depression.

 

Primary contributory major issues include:

 

  • money worries, due to juggling jobs and uncertain pay
  • poor working conditions

 

The study also found musicians are more likely to be subjected to:

 

  • sexual abuse
  • bullying
  • discrimination
  • antisocial and unsympathetic working environments

 

Additionally, musicians often don’t have sufficient income to allow them to get professional help.

 

Help Musicians UK is the leading UK charity for professional musicians, throughout their professional life. They help both at times of crisis, and of opportunity, providing much needed support at a crucial point in their career. 

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This seems like a case of what came first, the chicken or the egg? Personally I don't believe music causes depression, I think those depressed are attracted to music possibly as a means of release. The thing that makes some great at music, is the thing that depresses them as well, that thing would be depression in and of itself. Depression as a disease is a wicked son of a bitch! unfortunately in some cases the music creativity isn't enough in means of exorcising the beast, hence a possible reason for the extreme behaviors often associated with those in the music biz. Many know by now, when left untreated, this disease can manifest itself as drug or alcohol abuse, which when the genetic make-up is agreeable can turn into full blown addiction! In a nutshell depression may heighten one's introspection, which could be the thing that makes them great! The thing is when you've seen that side, you'll always remember it! no need to hang on to it for the rest of your life! If you're depressed of the clinical nature, get some damned help! No need to do it alone. Thanks! Robash

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3 hours ago, robash said:

This seems like a case of what came first, the chicken or the egg? Personally I don't believe music causes depression, I think those depressed are attracted to music possibly as a means of release. The thing that makes some great at music, is the thing that depresses them as well, that thing would be depression in and of itself. Depression as a disease is a wicked son of a bitch! unfortunately in some cases the music creativity isn't enough in means of exorcising the beast, hence a possible reason for the extreme behaviors often associated with those in the music biz. Many know by now, when left untreated, this disease can manifest itself as drug or alcohol abuse, which when the genetic make-up is agreeable can turn into full blown addiction! In a nutshell depression may heighten one's introspection, which could be the thing that makes them great! The thing is when you've seen that side, you'll always remember it! no need to hang on to it for the rest of your life! If you're depressed of the clinical nature, get some damned help! No need to do it alone. Thanks! Robash

 

It’s conclusions were more based on who and why. Specifically those who work or try to work as musicians as their job. The why, relating more to the way musicians are treated, valued and abused, creates a uniquely stressful environment. I believe the study did look at the broader case of musicians. Certainly the arts too attract people quite attuned to their feelings, expressing those feelings, and those who are particularly capable of empathy over sympathy.... all of which is further encouraged and developed.

 

Interesting, to me at least, is that once we have reached out to and developed such people, we don’t then teach them how to deal with those feelings in a way that keeps them safe and healthy.

 

Personally I think they should be teaching mindfulness to musicians. It is used for treating anxiety, depression and pain now, but there are also many studies that demonstrate increased performance at mental and physical tasks, and a far better emotional resilience. Not to be sniffed at.

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Well, I can only confess to this. Not as a musician because I do not believe that has anything to do with it, but the working environment and conditions for a struggling musician is hard. It was for me at least. I typically worked 7 days a week for 10 years, spending all my hours in the studio. There was always a deadline, always a record company waiting for results etc. And I could barely live on what I earned. I remember at the end of my so called career I had a strong and constant feeling of living on the outside of society because it was all work and no real award for it. So yeah, it was stressful to say the least, and when I finally gave in (to be honest at the time it felt like I gave up my dream) and looked for a "real" job with real hours, it took a long time to adjust and feel good about life again. But thankfully I made it back in one piece!!! :) I do not regret it for a second, but I won't lie and say it was a walk in the park either. 

 

Cheers,

 

Peter

 

 

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I'm not a musician but, from what I have experienced, creative people in general can appear to be prone to depression and anxiety. It  seems to be the case, from what I have personally seen, is that people with such issues can be searching for ways to express themselves, whether that be in music, dance or other arts. Also, when someone has expressed themselves in this way they can become more stressed if others do not understand or appreciate their work.  In many ways, if using music or art to work through issues is helping the person, it is such a personal matter - who cares what others think.  The problem, of course, is when this is the person's income which may be allowing them their basic living arrangements.

 

It is so sad to see so many who have succumbed to their depression, drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, how many musicians have said that their music saved their lives?

 

The chicken and egg analogy is a good one. 

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2 hours ago, Patchez said:

I noticed a few times for myself (look in the mirror to change the world?)...,
 -- "man, not having a good day..." and then? -- I suck in a deep breath and work up and on a simple authentic *smile on my face, and then as I walk around... my day improves if not becomes stellar. Anyone else, analogously speaking? 

Exactly! 

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So much of what musicians do, either from a performance aspect and especially as a writer, we are constantly looking inwards and outwards. We take real world scenarios and project ourselves into those secenarios, we empathise with the characters in our own songs. We also deal with undependable income, lack of support and poor working conditions.

 

The changes due to covid-19 only accentuate the problems and amplify feelings of isolation.

 

"Fake it to make it" can help. Puting on a smile does make a difference, but an important aspect of this approach is action, doing something while you are smiling.

 

We cannot control most events around us. Often we might feel at the mercy of our feelings and how we react to events, but we can learn new ways of doing things, change how we react. Unfortunately, waiting for change to just happen leaves it to chance. If you work on it, you can make much more positive, definitive change.

 

Now, if those changes also help your performance and your writing, boost your mental wellbeing, your resilience and they don't cost you financially... why not at least try them?

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