Goths Depressed?: Young Goths Depression

Published: August 28, 2015

Goths Depressed?: Young Goths Depression, Teenagers who identify as goths have a three times higher risk of depression than non-goth peers, researchers have said.

But they could not be sure whether it was depression leading young people to join the subculture – most readily identified by its members’ black clothes and make-up – or being caused by it.

“Our study does not show that being a goth causes depression or self-harm but rather that some young goths are more vulnerable to developing these conditions,” said Lucy Bowes from Oxford University, lead author of the study.

In a years-long study of more than 2,300 British teens Bowes and a team found that 15-year-olds who identified very strongly with goth subculture were three times more likely than their non-goth peers to be clinically depressed by age 18.

They were also five times more likely to physically harm themselves, the researchers reported in The Lancet Psychiatry.

At 15 the study participants were asked to what extent they identified with a variety of subcultures including sporty, popular, skaters, loners and bimbos. Three years later they were reassessed for symptoms of depression and self-harm.

Skaters and loners also presented an increased risk but not to the extent of goths, the researchers found.

“Young people who self-identified as sporty were least likely to have depression or self-harm at age 18,” said a statement.

It was possible, the team said, that “peer contagion” within the goth subculture was responsible for the link, but it could also be that the group attracted the depressed.

“Teenagers who are susceptible to depression or with a tendency to self-harm may be attracted to the goth subculture which is known to embrace marginalised individuals,” said co-author Rebecca Pearson from the University of Bristol in Britain.

Teenage goths should be closely monitored, the authors said, so that those at risk could be offered support.


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