Reading Helps Teens Beat the Blues

The Power of a Good Book




Books stimulate the mind in more ways than previously known, and may even help reduce the risk of depression in teenagers, according to a new study published in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers report adolescents that spend more time reading books are less likely to experience a major depressive disorder than those listening to contemporary music.

Participants were called up to 60 times during five extended weekends over two months and asked if their attention was currently devoted to television, movies, music, video games, the Internet, magazines, newspapers or books. Teens that spent the most hours listening to music were 8.5 times more likely to be depressed than those that spent the least amount of time absorbed in tunes. In contrast, adolescents that read the most (primarily books) were 10 percent as likely to be depressed as those that read the least.

Major depression is thought to affect one in 12 teenagers, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Brian Primack, the assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics who led the study, remarks, “These findings may help clinicians and parents recognize links between media and depression. This is worth emphasizing because overall in the United States, reading books is decreasing, while nearly all other forms of media use are increasing.”

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