Does EDM stand for Extremely Depressed Musicians?


Well, it seems it does!

From international sensations like Adele, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Zayn Malik to our very own Yo Yo Honey Singh, each of them have fought their battles with Mental Illness. It seems quite ironic that those who are the closest to music, which can provide natural relief to anxiety and reduces depression, are the major sufferers of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression.

Creative Artists are fifth-most likely to suffer from depression, with around 9% of them reporting a major depressive state in the past few years. It appears making a career as a musician isn’t just difficult when it comes to earning your livelihood, but it can also cause harm to your physical and mental health. A study, completed by the University of Westminster which investigated 2,211 musicians reveals that 71.1% of them had suffered from panic attacks or anxiety, with 68.5% saying they had struggled with depression. Researchers Sally-Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave highlighted a few major issues including money insecurities and dealing with perilous and unpredictable pay, and poor working conditions. The study also reveals that musicians were more likely to be subject to sexual abuse, bullying, and discrimination including antisocial and unsympathetic working environments.

Let’s try to find out when music is so good for our health then why these musicians are suffering so much?

It’s not that difficult to understand, how unexpected or sudden fame or a lifestyle change while creating music and doing live shows can lead to serious health issues among these musicians. Zayn Malik, who overnight became one of the most talked-about people in the world after One Direction came second in a reality show, has anxiety so severe that it ultimately forced him to cancel several solo tours. Sharing his experience in an interview he said, “When I was in One Direction, my anxiety issues were huge, but within the safety net of the band, they were still manageable. But as a solo performer, I was much more exposed, and the mental stress of performing had just got to be too much for me to handle”.

Not just that, but the act of trying to break into the industry at an initial level can be so stressful that it can have a massive impact on an artist’s health. Today, Nicki Minaj is regarded as one of the best rappers around, but in 2011, she recalled to in an interview how she had suffered from suicidal thoughts after being turned away from time to time and having doors slammed on her face during her initial career in the music industry. Lady Gaga told The Mirror in 2016 that she has literally whipped out the memory of rising to fame: “It’s like I’m traumatized,” she said. “I needed time to recalibrate my soul.”

One of the major reasons for anxiety and mental depression among musicians is the stress of failure or rejection. There was a time when a person who can perform in front of around 20,000 people was scared of even 4-5 people with him, that’s what mental illness did to the Indian Rapper, Honey Singh. All his fans were dancing to his beats, while he just silently disappeared! For nearly 2 years. He talked about suffering from Bipolar disorder and how scary those 2 years were for him. This was the time when his career graph was in the downward direction. In an recent interview, Joe Tilson, an English pop art painter revealed, “Being a musician has the impact of any other self-employed job, you never switch off, everything is connected to your success graph; your relationships, your friendships, and your social life,” With the change in your success graph, your relationships, friends, everything changes and that is what the ultimate fear and depression looks like.

In addition to the artists who speak publicly about these issues, there are a number of others who have addressed it via their music. In 2017, Logic released his Grammy-nominated collaboration with Alessia Cara and Khalid, “1-800-273-8255” (the contact number for the American National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), which addresses feelings of severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

Maggie Rogers, an America musician addresses her personal experiences of anxiety and depression into her new album Heard it in a Past Life, with the song “Back in My Body” describing the moment she “almost ran away” in Paris while on her European tour in 2017. 

With so many cases reported in the recent past, it’s highly important for the industry to help each other in dealing with these issues. Music performs a significant role in improving health and wellbeing. It’s for everyone in the industry to promote the help that is out there for all those people who need it – and to work across the industry and with policymakers to improve that support and to help lift the stigma.

© 2019 One Song Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

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