Electronic Music and Depression

Depression and anxiety are topics frequently broached within the EDM community, with producers and ravers sharing personal anecdotes of how music has helped them cope with these difficulties.

Working in the music industry can be extremely fulfilling and fulfilling; however, it also comes with unique risks and pressures. Alcohol and drug consumption is commonplace within dance culture (known as rave) which may exacerbate mental health issues.

It’s Addicting

Many ravers become addicted to electronic music. The combination of bass thump, high-energy beats, and mesmerizing melodies can put one into an altered state of consciousness where time seems to stand still – creating feelings of euphoria, bliss, happiness, relaxation and even numbness – which ravers often share inspirational anecdotes about using electronic music to overcome depression and other mental health conditions.

Mental health has increasingly become an issue within electronic music culture and an urgent need to increase awareness and support among musicians is evident from recent deaths such as DJ/producer Avicii’s who was reported to be struggling with alcohol/substance abuse as well as depression; numerous artists have shared their struggles and experiences through public statements or interviews.

Musicians may be susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse as a part of dance and party culture (also known as “rave”); moreover, these substances have long been accepted by many within the music industry as normal ways of getting work done. Furthermore, their late nights characteristic of working in electronic music industry can contribute to sleep deprivation, fatigue and increased feelings of stress, loneliness and isolation which exacerbate feelings of stress, loneliness and isolation further.

All these factors combined can create an unhealthy cycle in which an artist feels pressured, depressed and anxious; overdrinking to cope; experiencing turbulent relationships and experiencing long-term creative block. If left unchecked for too long this could result in decreased creativity resulting in negatively affecting both quality and popularity of their music productions.

Not-for-profit organisations AFEM, Help Musicians UK and Music Support recently unveiled a guide to mental health in the music industry specifically targeted towards electronic music artists. The guide includes topics like anxiety, depression, work/life balance issues, substance abuse recovery programs, self-care strategies for recovery as well as supporting staff trained to handle mental health first aid cases – something similar should exist within businesses as with physical first aid first aiders.

It’s Fast-Paced

Since 2015, we have seen numerous electronic music artists, from DJs to producers, struggle with mental health issues ranging from depression, drug use and suicide. These high-profile cases have raised awareness of the need to address mental health in the music industry; not-for-profit organisations like AFEM, Music Managers Forum and Help Musician UK have released guides designed specifically to educate and provide further support for people working within electronic music production environments.

An electronic music artist’s job can be extremely stressful. From long hours spent alone in front of the computer and unhealthy touring schedules to fickle fans and career insecurity – not to mention no social interaction at all – becoming even more stressful over time. Therefore, maintaining a healthy balance of physical fitness, work-life-play balance and sleep is crucial for an electronic musician’s wellbeing.

electronic music can be especially challenging for those suffering from depression due to the speed at which it is played and mixed, particularly techno music, as its rapid pace can quickly raise heart rate, blood pressure and trigger adrenaline and anxiety responses. Therefore, it is vitally important that when listening to this type of music it be monitored closely in terms of blood pressure monitoring as well as seek medical advice if symptoms become problematic.

Fast-paced music has the same effect of shifting our attention back and forth as vocal music or radio stations with commercial breaks, which may become distracting and potentially counterproductive to studying or other tasks. If electronic music makes it hard for you to focus, consider switching up genres.

Though mental health may seem like an unfamiliar subject to some, many ravers have spoken openly about their struggles and shared touching anecdotes of how EDM has helped them cope and feel better. It’s important to keep in mind that depression and anxiety can affect anyone regardless of the music they enjoy or how they spend their free time.

It’s a Feeling

Electronic music’s fast tempos, repetitive beats and melodic patterns can induce feelings of euphoria and happiness due to its interaction with certain parts of the brain, stimulating pleasure centers that stimulate feelings of pleasure. Furthermore, electronic music may trigger endorphin and dopamine releases which boost feelings of happiness and joy – thus helping reduce stress levels while relieving symptoms associated with depression or anxiety.

Electronic songs can express so much emotion when created by artists who have struggled with mental health. One such artist is deadmau5, who has candidly discussed his battles with depression in the past and his difficulty finding meaning in his work, yet knows it must continue in order to feel fulfilled as an artist.

Working in electronic music can be extremely rewarding, yet it does come with its own set of challenges and pressures. This is particularly true for musicians who may be more vulnerable than other members of the workforce to mental health issues. Recently there has been increased attention paid to supporting and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices among electronic music artists through many organizations taking steps such as offering professional mentoring.

Beatport in particular launched a campaign called Music Connects US to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health in the music industry, joining forces with organizations like AFEM, Silentmode, How Mental and Tom Middleton to interview 140 electronic and dance music artists about their experiences with mental illness.

The results of the study demonstrated that approximately 30% of artists experienced symptoms of depression/anxiety; however, most still maintained moderate levels of well-being and functioning. A substantial number reported sleep disturbance, an indicator of negative mental health outcomes. According to this research study, addressing sleep disturbance as well as increasing resilience and social support may be crucial strategies for improving electronic music artists’ mental wellbeing.

It’s a Connection

Electronic music’s upbeat melodies and energetic beats can generate feelings of happiness and euphoria, as well as reduce stress levels, ease depression symptoms, and enhance memory retention. Electronic music engages multiple brain regions through rhythmic patterns, melodies, and harmonies in producing these effects.

Electronic music emerged following technological developments between World Wars I and II. This includes audio frequency technology such as synthesizers; sine, square, sawtooth-wave generators were created as were amplifiers, filter circuits, loudspeakers, loudspeaker amplifiers etc. With these innovations musicians were enabled to create many different sounds, leading to the formation of many new musical genres and styles.

Mental health has recently become an important topic within the electronic music community, and many notable artists such as Deadmau5 have spoken publicly about their own struggles with depression and anxiety, including Avicii’s late father, John Timperley. Such conversations have helped remove stigma surrounding mental illness in music industry environments and increased awareness of needs within this genre.

Study conducted among musicians working in electronic music found that 29% exhibited signs of sleep disturbance due to frequent late-night performances that are common within this scene. Furthermore, sleep disturbance was directly correlated to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety in these musicians.

Mind and Help Musicians UK have joined forces to produce a guide to mental health for those working in electronic music industry. This guide serves to inform, offer practical support, and destigmatise discussions regarding mental health struggles within this genre. Topics addressed by this document range from anxiety/depression/alcohol dependence through work/life balance issues and sleep quality. Furthermore, key contacts of all countries where AFEM members exist are listed to offer assistance or advice should they require any.