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Music or books? Teen's choice linked to depression: study

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Teenagers who whittle away their time listening to music are far more likely to suffer from depression than those who spend more time consuming other media, including books, say the authors of a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The researchers called 106 adolescents - 46 of whom had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder - approximately 60 times over two months, asking them to report what kind of media they were consuming: Internet, video games, TV, movies, music, magazines, newspapers or books.

Teens who listened to the most music were 8.3 times more likely to be depressed than those who listened least.

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Does that mean playing, say, Interpol on repeat could spark depressive episodes, or does it suggest depressed teens find solace in Interpol? Researchers say the cause and effect is not yet known.

"It is not clear whether depressed people begin to listen to more music to escape, or whether listening to large amounts of music can lead to depression, or both," Brian Primack, lead author and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, said in a release.

Still, Dr. Primack said, "These findings may help clinicians and parents recognize links between media and depression."

The link was far less pronounced with other forms of media, such as reading: Those who read most were one-tenth as likely to get down as those who read least. (No word on whether the young respondents were reading the Twilight series.)

Still, Dr. Primack said the reading versus music results were crucial, particularly since "overall in the U.S., reading books is decreasing, while nearly all other forms of media use are increasing."

The findings are published in the current edition of the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

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