A new study that was published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts is suggesting that teens who are active in the arts after school are more likely to become depressed than their non-artsy peers. At the moment, this is the first study that mentions the link between depression and youth art involvement.
“This is not to say that depression is a necessary condition for either a teen or an adult to become an artist, nor are we showing that participating in the arts leads to mental illness,” said lead author Laura N. Young, MA, of Boston College. “However, previous research has revealed higher rates of mental illness symptoms in adult artists. We were interested in whether this association is present earlier in development.”
In addition, the paper shows that females are viewed as more likely to participate in the arts and suffer from depression as a result of that art participation than boys are. It has also been found that athletic kids have the lowest depression rates. This study is also suggesting that kids who participate in both sports and arts showed no significant increase in their link to depression.
For this study, the researchers analyzed data collected from the U.S. Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which was collected from 2,482 kids aged 15 and 16. The data looked at American teenagers’ involvement in extracurricular activities in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. The survey took stock of how many of the kids participated in after school activities like art and sports, as well as those who didn’t. Then the survey asked the kids how often they felt changes in mood or experienced depressive symptoms.
The researchers believe that those kids who were drawn to the arts may possess specific cognitive traits such as “taking in a higher-than-average level of information from their surroundings.”
“While dealing with excessive stimuli could lead to general distress and depression, a heightened awareness of self and surroundings could lead to greater creativity and artistic expression,” the authors continue. “Personality traits such as introversion, which has been linked to depression, could also lead to preferences for more solitary activities that are more likely to be associated with practice of the arts than with sports.”
When it comes to treating depression, antidepressant treatments may be prescribed to lessen the symptoms. Popular choices include SSRIs like Paxil and Effexor. While it is not completely understood whether these drugs help ease the depression symptoms, it is clear that both drugs cause serious side effects. Some of the dangerous side effects linked to Paxil and Effexor include violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior.