Study Shows Link Between Goth Culture and Teen Depression

Although there was no cause and effect relationship, a recent study done by the University of Oxford reveals that some teens who identify with the Goth culture may be more vulnerable to depression and self harm.


The Goth culture began in England in the 1980’s, as an offshoot of the post-punk genre. Today, it is a lifestyle among teens known around the world. Typically, teens who dress in this fashion wear dark clothes, dark makeup, and dark hair. Their style of dress can include Victorian types of fashion as well as punk styles. They also tend to share a collective type of music. Most parents and teens are familiar with the word Goth and have an image of what a person associated with that culture dresses like.


A recent study done in England attempted to see if their dark look brought on any negative consequences. Indeed, the researchers were able to find an association. However, they were also quick to point out that there was no cause and effect type of relationship, but simply an association. This connection between the Goth culture and teen depression might indicate that some Goth teens might be more vulnerable to depression.


The study found that 15 year old teens who strongly identified as Goth were three times more likely to be depressed at 18 years old, compared with teens who did not identify as Goth. Furthermore, they were five times more likely to have had an experience of self-harming such as cutting or overdosing on medication or drugs. The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on August 27, 2015.


Researchers collected data from nearly 4,000 teens who took part in a many-year study. When teens were 15 years old, they were asked about any self-harm, depression, and Goth identification. They were also questioned about other cultural identifications, such as being sporty, popular, loners, antisocial, etc. Three years later, at age 18, they were questioned again about self harm and depression. The findings mentioned above help up even after researchers took into account other factors such as the presence of any early emotional or behavioral concerns, psychiatric disorders, and a history of bullying or being bullied.


Lead researcher of the study, Lucy Bowes, commented to parents that the results of the study shouldn’t concern them, despite the results, emphasizing again the lack of causal relationship. She continued to say that those teens who are already vulnerable and who feel marginalized may be more attracted to the Goth community. The Goth subculture has been traditionally accepting of those who mainstream society tends to marginalize. And so there is an overlap of a particular teen population that might be more vulnerable to depression and self-harm in the first place.


There is an advantage of parents and mental health workers knowing the results of the study. It provides them with information about who might be more vulnerable to depression and self-harm. School psychologists and counselors can also be on the lookout for teens who identify with the Goth culture and potentially provide support if needed.