Metal Fans Suffer From Anxiety and Depression, Claims the Latest Study

College students analysis indicates high level of depression, anxiety and anger among the heavy metal supporters.

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After conducting research on a sample of 551 college students, the latest study published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture journal has found that the majority of heavy metal fans tends to suffer from "significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression."

Conducted by psychologists Gavin Ryan Shafron of Columbia University and Mitchell Karno of the University Of California-Los Angeles, the analysis had a goal of examinig the "emotional states of late adolescent/emerging adult contemporary listeners of heavy metal music as compared with nonlisteners."

315 students, or 57 percent of the population sample declared themselves as metal fans, putting metalheads in the clear majority. PS Mag reports that hardcore fans scored the highest level of anger, anxiety and depression, while ironically, emo fans were described as the most depressive ones. Elevated anxiety was also noted among screamo and classic heavy metal listeners.

"We hypothesized that participants who listen to heavy metal music would report higher levels of depression, anxiety, and trait anger as compared with participants who do not listen to heavy metal music," states the study abstract. "As predicted, analyses of variance indicated significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression among listeners of heavy metal/hard rock music as compared with nonlisteners."

"Analyses of specific subgenres of heavy metal indicated significant differences on measures of dysphoric mood between nonlisteners and listeners of several, but not all of the subgenres. These findings help to establish an emotional profile of a predominantly adolescent sample of heavy metal/hard rock listeners."

203 comments sorted by best / new / date

    PrimalFeelings
    The problem I have with things like these are that people are going to relate it to listening to metal makes you depressed, as opposed to you may be depressed and you may gravitate towards metal.
    Hawkisonfire
    Exactaly. Shocking news that people who are depressed will listen to music thats full of emotion which they can relate to
    dralithi
    Correlation does not equal causation. Plain and simple. If the number of burglaries go up as the sales of ice cream goes up, does that mean that ice cream makes people want to rob houses? Nope!
    joeowens994
    Exactly what I was thinking while reading this article. Seems like their basing their depression on the fact that they all listen to heavy metal when there could be a multitude of other factors involved.
    Kueller917
    Exactly. Metal is darker and angrier music, and considering they looked at people in late teenage years, I could've predicted these results. However, it is worth pointing out they never explicitly state that metal makes you depressed, just that they found the correlation.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Their hypothesis was that "...participants who listen to heavy metal music would report higher levels of depression, anxiety, and trait anger as compared with participants who do not listen to heavy metal music". In other words, they were setting out to prove that "heavy metal music" is partially to blame for depression, anxiety, and trait anger.
    Blazingguns00
    Technically... no but that's how the world will interpret it and its what they meant they dont say anything about metal causing, only that if you listen to metal there's a high chance you're depressed, which is independent of the metal listening
    Damascus
    "they were setting out to prove that "heavy metal music" is partially to blame for depression, anxiety, and trait anger." This is speculation - the abstract doesn't mention which way the causality runs. Worth repeating that: **Everyone complaining that correlation doesn't imply causation - I'm pretty sure you don't need to explain that elementary fact to the authors of this study, who have an MA and a PHD in Psychology.** They don't mention which way they think the causality runs, because this study isn't investigating that, it's investigating whether or not there is a link. That's all. And the study found one. Was the sample size too small? We don't know, because we don't know the scores. What were the P values? If you're going to criticise something, think it through.
    qrEE
    Correlation doesn't imply causation, Damascus - just because they have an MA and a PHD in Psychology, does not mean that they can't screw this up. They could be motivated by bias, and as a result be skewing the results to make it look worse than it is. This happens all the time actually, and just having a PHD doesn't mean you're going to be intelligent, moral, and unbiased in everything you do. I say ignore the crap out of this study until people do something like 5 more studies in different areas, different age groups, etc, and then subject all of these studies to peer-review. People are quick to jump on "studies show ___", but in this case, there's only been the one study, it could be a completely unrelated case - what if the depression from Metal fans is a result of the place they live? Would Swedish Metal fans be equally depressed? I'm not saying that they're wrong. I'm not even saying that Metal doesn't cause depression, I'm just saying that 1 study is far from enough to take seriously.
    Kueller917
    The abstract seems to imply more that they want to map a correlation between mood and music, not necessarily proving that one causes the other. I'm still not entirely sure though, but I'm not going to buy the paper just to find out.
    Damascus
    What about that makes you think they're trying to imply that? Academic papers tend to be very careful and precise with wording. That's kindof their job. If they were trying to say which way round the causation ran, they'd be doing a study on that, not a study on whether or not there's correlation.
    link no1
    The problem I have is that out of 511 people, 315 of them where metal fans. How did they find so many because where I'm from, there isn't that many metal fans in comparison to 'everybody else'.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    The problem(s) I have with this is: 1. generalizing metal to be depressed, the****? 2. how much money did this stupid study cost? "okay guys, we now know that people who listen to metal are pretty darn emo, time to try and cure cancer now ok?"
    Lightning_Ray
    I can't say that as both a college student and a metalhead that I ever felt anxious or depressed...
    CJSchecter96
    exactly, like i listen to hard rock and metal but im not depressed or have anxiety. i barely shut up and i dont have any more problems than the next person. and i listen to it for the music like guitar parts, not because i am angry or sad.
    D4CE
    Intelligent people are more depressed than others
    jasperado
    Nicely put, i bet a happy justin timberlake listener would score very low on an iq exam. Truth is all of this is BS cuz you cant conduct a survey that categorizes 6 billion people whilst only questioning 551 dumb ass suburban kids who have barely experienced life, i know some 40 + folks that rock out to sabbath and salyer a lot and are not per say depressed people, and emo kids seriously! that still exists, kill yourself already nobody cares, and emo should never be linked to metal
    jesusofpaign
    "No study should be taken seriously unless it includes every single human on the earth" - Jasperado, 2013.
    qrEE
    salyer - the first sign that you should give up on a conversation about intelligence before it's too late.
    Mkorn
    you say 551 people don't count because there are 6 billion on the planet, then you say you know "some" 40+ guys who listen to metal and aren't depressed. even if your right their experiment is more precise :|
    mathiaes
    his point is just that you can't determine that determine if most metal fans are depressed or have anxiety issues just because some said they were - especially considering the fact this study was conducted with the basis of college students who hasn't experienced life in the same way as other metal fans may do. There's more people in the world that listens to heavy metal who doesn't share the same background, skin color, belief or nationality - metal isn't just for white college kids....and thank god for that
    Hawkisonfire
    Studies like this annoy me. Metal, hard rock and emo fans suffer from anxiety and depresson the same amount as everyone else. A sample of 551 students in one part of america is not a good representation of the general population.
    kratos379
    Even worse, they picked college students, who are in one of the most transitional time periods in life. I feel like everyone around me has some anxiety or depression in college.
    conorpatt
    UG post loads of these studies I'm pretty sure they're just doing it as a wind up
    Pine
    Depression happens to be more common in people who are more intelligent and open minded about things. Why do you think all of the idiots in our society listen to Pop music and "rap" like Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj?
    Waterboy799
    Depression has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence and open-mindedness. It has to do with a combination of a specific short/short allele or a short/long allele in your genetic code that is then triggered by a certain amount of very stressful events during your life (usually in a 5 year time span). These events could happen during childhood and adulthood. Stop romanticising depression as if it's some deep or beautiful state of mind. It's anything but.
    hairydeadperson
    I hate it when people do this. Using biology to trivialize how we feel is to ruin the sacredness of how we feel. Yeah, sure, depression occurs as a result of genetic predisposition and stress, but the individual thought process is very important. Who are you to say that depression isnt a deep or beautiful state of mind? others could say that sometimes depression is simply part of ones journey through life. Having been depressed for 3 years, but in recent months emerging out of it, i can tell you that i learnt a great deal from it, and i feel it has made me stronger. With respectt, i thiink you are failing to see how biology influences personality. The same biological characteristics that make a person more open to all ideas, or empathetic to others, may also lead to a state of depression. Your view of depression is highly deterministic, and fails to account for the vast differences in our individual psyches.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Depression isn't a deep or beautiful state of mind at at all. It's not called "deep thinking". It's called depression. There's nothing beautiful about feeling like shit emotionally for months on end. Yes, I'm sure people grow through mental states like depression. I'm also sure that there's nothing beautiful to it.
    iommi600
    Holy shite, I thought I wouldn't come across one of these comments! Sure thing mate, your musical taste made your IQ stratospheric! Now repeat that to yourself until you believe in it. *sigh* How very open minded you are.
    Flibo
    I'm sure you're so very open minded and intelligent by trashing popular music and calling people who listen to it idiots.
    EyesWideOpen
    I think he's saying what a lot of us think.
    Flibo
    Which is why people who think like this should reconsider their thoughts on stuff or keep their prejudices to themselves. Face it, coming out with a generalization like this doesn't help you come across as an open minded individual. Just because group mentality here on UG says metalheads are more intelligent than others doesn't mean it's true.
    CJSchecter96
    really? grow a brain. anyone could write that radio crap with a decent laptop. real music has real instruments and people. and i listen to all kinds of music not just rock. alot of people who do listen to those kinds of music are close minded cuz theyre think all country is hillbilly music and all rock fans are emo which is not true.
    GALGOPOWER
    Actually, the only people, except me, that i know and that listen to metal are really stupid... Racist, don't have jobs, don't made studies etc. Sorry for bad english
    TryTheKetchup
    Listen to reggae and don't give a f--k
    iommi600
    Did you guys ever noticed how "Peter Tosh" sounds like "I lit a torch"? Reggae is the soundtrack for not giving a ****... and for smoking a big fat one.
    leony03
    I don't remember playing Brtal Legend and being depressed in the slightest. In fact, it made me feel epic. This study along with all the others like it are stupid and pointless.
    Dikkedar
    That game kicked ass dude
    leony03
    Its so sick. Played it for the first time when it got released on PC recently. I really really hope they release a sequel!
    Damascus
    Hey bro, you could see a study saying 99.999% of Xbro's are Ybro's and there will be 10,000 Xbro's that are not Ybro's even if you only count bro's from China. Bro.
    MattHessing
    I gotta be honest, I haven't listened to much metal in the last few years and I've been a sh*t load less depressed/anxious. Maybe it's correlated, or maybe I just stopped being a whiney little douchehole... Also the dude in the thumbnail isn't depressed, he's clearly baked.
    shumpitostick
    I think it goes opposite. I once listened to a lot of metal but since I switched school I became less depressed and anxious and also started listening to alot less metal and more progressive rock.
    Matenks
    Probably the later, people forget that just growing up can increase/decrease anxiety and depression, especially around your teens and stuff. Coincidences!
    awsomebadas5
    theres a lot to really say about this. metal is quite varied,from tool to morbid angel and maby metalheads, see that life is more than just partying and sex, that higher concuisness is perhaps a valid reason for stress or maby its like MJkeegan said once: anger is a constructive emotion and my music is a constructive channel, and a medium for that emotioin, but many pepole fail to see the diffrence between anger and hate i myself am feeling pretty good, and metal only helps me in any situation
    jasperik
    so basicly metal is music with meaning and depth and actually helps people cope
    justtryme90
    Depressed and angry people find comfort in heavy metal...I'm not always happy, but I'll tell you what, a couple blast beats and I'm cheered right up. Thanks METAL!
    Deflection
    It should state: People suffering from anxiety and depression may be attracted to heavier and more emotional types of music. They've got this study in reverse.
    bonjidonk
    I get much angrier listening to pop music because I find it so f***ing annoying.
    Izzy-Sweet
    Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Heavy metal is aggressive and in many cases depressing music, true, but it doesn't cause depression moreso than it provides an outlet for those who have depression. I'd consider myself one of those types, I used to suffer from depression but metal made it so much easier to cope with, not to mention that headbanging and moshpits are a fantastic way to vent anger... given that you don't go too far with it and realise it's only a bit of fun, not a fight.
    Flibo
    The study doesn't imply metal music causes depression. If you listen to metal music to cope with depression, you're still the majority the study talks about. Moreover, it's not really justifiable to debunk the study just because it doesn't apply to your personal experiences. The study might apply to other people: it might help us to find the people who are depressed or anxious and need help.
    tume
    Listening to my favourite metal music always makes me feel better.
    ATOMICUS
    1. NOT "IRONICALLY." The word you were looking for is "coincidentally" 2. This is correlation, not causation. Heavy metal probably appeals to people who are depressed for the same reason the Jack Johnson appeals to people who are high.
    LaughingWater2
    Its no surprise that metal and rock fans suffer from depression. I don't get whats so bad about that. People that are depressed listen to music that relates to them that does not mean metal will make you depressed.
    Benjumanji
    "57 percent of the population sample declared themselves as metal fans, putting metalheads in the clear majority." There's your problem. Besides a metal concert, where else in the United States will you find any population where over 50% of the people consider themselves fans of metal? I call biased sampling.
    theScapegoat
    funny how we creep out of our holes when the night begins, to gather in giant castles to worship our gods that give us these beautiful noises through the night, and the next day youre the weirdo metalhead again.
    Skodward714
    I love metal, but I'm also one of the friendliest and happiest people I've ever met.
    Shun1010
    they're not depressed because they listen to metal. they listen to metal because they're depressed.
    grungerocker90
    its quite literally impossible to get depressed when you're headbanging to a classic black sabbath tune....
    yuyinyu
    The research is crap. Listening to metal music doesn't depress me, it pumps me up instead especially when I am listening to power ****ing metal!!!
    RUs1
    Listening to Technical Death pumps me up(Decapitated etc.). I will not say I am the happiest person on the planet, I also am not the saddest, but I definetly am not depressed. Depression is a disease not a state of brief sadness. Everybody is sad sometimes, that is where metal comes in in my case =)
    Kueller917
    Your own personal experience doesn't somehow mean that taken statistics of multiple people are wrong.
    RUs1
    I am not saying that the taken statistics of this study is wrong. But a certain group is not represented in the sample of people which makes it one sided.
    Deathriken
    Listening to metal gives you depression, and listening to R&B will give you aids, it is all true of course *cough* bullsh*t *cough*
    RUs1
    Listening to Hip-Hop will make you rich and you will get all the bitches. To the rapmobile!
    lodimas123
    Realistically they should investigate the causal link not just collect statistics. I would propose that people who find them selves with higher levels of depression and anxiety tend to gravitate towards heavy metal as an outlet or coping mechanism.
    majd.atrouni
    this article is rediculous, metal makes me feel a sense of euphoria and has made life a thousand times better for me
    Damascus
    Hey bro, you could see a study saying 99.999% of Xbro's are Ybro's and there will be 10,000 Xbro's that are not Ybro's even if you only count bro's from China. Bro
    Jmoarguitar
    Correlation is not causation! Just gonna leave this here, for all those depressed and angry metal heads...
    Xplorer58
    I have never been depressed and listen to all kinds of metal and rock. In fact thats probably the reason I have never been depressed.
    Dr. Knox666
    Great study and so true! I was a metalhead some time ago and became very aggressive, depressed and sometimes even suicidal. But nowadays I listen to pop and christian music only and it became much better!
    50fitty
    My depression got better once I stopped listening to pop-esque music.
    K33nbl4d3
    Well the downvotes on this clearly disprove the "metalheads are more intelligent therefore more depressed" theory...
    JelloCrust
    First off; it does not say that there is causation. Secondly, the data shows that there is a correlation, so everyone, stop being so anti-intellectual. There is truth in this study. Third; since it doesn't say there is causation, they are not implying that listening to metal depresses you. It may mean that depressed people listen to metal, or it might mean nothing. Yay anti-intellectualism on UG!
    Shavyi
    57% of MetalHeads in the sample ? Where the hell is that country I'll have to move in ? Seriously, I often get depressed when I realise how the world is shitty, mostly because I ask myself to much questions and put on me to much pressure. And I listen to metal, because I like music with instruments, really played and not full made by computers. Are both linked ? Well, maybe yes. Metal is mostly about sad subject, war, darkness, the clich-things, but it's true. Whereas the shitty electro-club stuff is about making party... One thing is sure, there is a relation between your IQ and the music you listen to...
    theScapegoat
    i was once happy and in love, it made me angry and i hated it. Two words: Black Sabbath. The world is not a happy place, it is full of hatred, anger, murder and war. I cant watch the news without realizing that this world isnt a great place to live in. i love Heavy Metal, i play thrash and im aware of myself and what happens around me. I am not an angry person, yet am i depressed, but i dont feel happy when i hear happy songs, because the real world isnt. Metal is a great way to let out emotions whether your happy or not. everything metal is about is how the world actually is. black sabbath wouldnt be black sabbath if this wasnt true.
    QuantumInfinity
    No shit, they are depressed. They go to university in the United States and unless they are uberly-talented jocks, they won't get a scholarship and thus most likely are in... oh, I dunno... huge-ass debts? Also: I gravitated towards metal because I am a melancholic piece of shit, not the other way around
    ETID666
    I'm seeing anthrax, exodus, municipal waste and shadows fall tonight I've been excited all week and I know tomorrow after the show I'll be hung over but still happy from getting my face rocked off, there's nothing like live music its one of the best experiences in the world
    Senor Kristian
    I'm not sure what they are trying to do with this study... the way they're presenting their hypothesis, they are just expecting a correlation. What the hell are you going to use that for? If the metal band in question explores the themes anxiety and anger then is it really that surprising that the listener has a personal experience with it? Here's another hypothesis: Teen movies tends to be seen by teens.
    l0ld4v3
    Most are confusing sadness with depression. Also, the sample is representative for the American society, but if it was taken from Sweden or Norway none would be claiming it "unrepresentative".
    deadsmileyface
    They studied adolescents and they are surprised that they had some anxiety and depression? of course they do, theyre teenagers!
    Asmithe
    I've noticed emo's are the happiest, most social people I have ever met. They cant wait to tell random strangers about their problems with a shit-eating grin. Strange how people think they are depressed.