Study says heavy metal fans more at risk for mental illness

Dr. McFerran is here somewhere conducting research. © Yahya Diwer Diwer / Demotix/Demotix/Demotix/Corbis

Got a case of the blues? It might not be from, uh, the blues. According to a new study conducted by the University of Melbourne, teens exposed to heavy metal music are more susceptible to depression and other forms of mental illness.

Dr. Katrina McFerran examined the effects of certain types of music on 50 young people between the ages of 13 and 18 (as well as a national survey of 1,000 people), and concluded that heavy metal music was used by a percentage in a negative way.

"Most young people listen to a range of music in positive ways; to block out crowds, to lift their mood or to give them energy when exercising, but young people at risk of depression are more likely to be listening to music, particularly heavy metal music, in a negative way," she said.

Examples of using music negatively include "when someone listens to the same song or album of heavy metal music over and over again and doesn't listen to anything else. They do this to isolate themselves or escape from reality."

If the behavior persists over a period of time, Dr. McFerran said, it might indicate that someone is "suffering from depression or anxiety, and at worst, might suggest suicidal tendencies."

Interestingly, Dr. McFerran concluded that other music genres including rap, rock and pop did not have the same results as heavy metal.

While you ponder Dr. McFerran's findings, we're off to listen to Death's Leprosy album for the 30th time in a row. Hey - it makes us feel good. Go figure.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.