Help Musicians U.K., a leading charity in Europe for struggling professional musicians, recently published the results of a survey which reveals that musicians can be up to three times more likely to suffer depression than non-musicians.

The global study, “Can Music Make You Sick” is based on the results of 2,200 participants, which makes it the largest survey of it’s kind.

After tallying up and analyzing the results, the largest consistencies found were that:

  • an outstanding 71% of respondents believed that have experienced anxiety and panic attacks.
  • 65% of respondents reported they have suffered from depression.

According to ‘Help Musicians U.K’:

This suggests musicians may be up to three times more likely to suffer from the illness compared to the general public.

Majority of the responses point towards poor work conditions as a major contributing factor. Some of the cited conditions include: Anti-social work hours, unsustainable wages, exhaustion, and inability to plan for their future.

To cite one of the notable respondents:

“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”.

On top of the poor work conditions, 54.8% of the participants feel that there is a gap in the provision of services for musicians, and 46.6% of the surveyed want to see counseling services for musicians.

In the words of one of the participants:

“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””

As far as the surveyed demographic goes, the majority of respondents (66.2%) were between the ages of 18-35 (55.2% male, 43.9% female). The largest group of respondents described themselves as musicians (39%) and worked across a wide variety of genres. Other participants included music management professionals, DJs, Audio Producers, and other music related professionals.

The study definitely presents a grim fact. Musicians seem to be highly under-appreciated in the professional world. If these numbers are accurate and 65% of musicians experience depression at some point (compared to the US national average of 6.7%), there is a definite problem.

Either way, this is an interesting study that yields results worth listening to.

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