Goths 'at greater risk of depression'

Survey of 3,694 young people in Bristol finds link between goth subculture and depression in teenagers

(Image credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Teenagers who identify with the goth subculture are three times more likely to experience depression as non-goths, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers found that the more a young person identified with the goth subculture the higher their likelihood of self-harm and depression.

The study, which was published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, asked 3,694 Bristol-based 15-year-olds how much they identified themselves with eight different social groups: "sporty", "populars", "skaters", "chavs", "loners", "keeners", "bimbos", and "goths".

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The study found that people who saw themselves as part of the goth group were more likely to have been bullied in the past and to have shown signs of depression prior to the age of 15.

But according to the study's lead author, Lucy Bowes from Oxford University, it is not possible to tell whether being a goth causes depression or whether people who are depressed are simply more attracted to the subculture.

"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," Bowes said.

Speaking to the BBC, Nattalie Richardson, 29, said that she was depressed prior to becoming a goth.

"I personally think that kids who are depressed or have mental illnesses are drawn to 'alt' style as a way of appearing as different on the outside as they feel on the inside," she said.

"I know that was the reason I started dressing differently and became alternative. That and the image went with the music I listened to that seemed to speak to the jumble that was inside my head and help me realise I wasn't the only one who felt the way I did as a teenager."

Richardson concludes: "I was depressed and ill before I was a goth".

Of all the social groups, people who identified as "sporty" were the least likely to self-harm or have depression by the age of 18, the study found.

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