When music listening is desired almost nonstop, it’s most likely due to a problematic mood found in any of the U.S.E. moods. For example, a soothed mood may be the target feeling to avoid feeling anything else. So soothing music ONLY is chosen, and all other music (and situations?) are avoided. There are other several other examples listed in these two research studies.  Two research reports are important to understand how prescriptive listening can move you into a space of intentional listening as opposed to 24/7 self-medication that may cover up repressed or suppressed emotions.

This first study focuses on music-listening habits using MP3 players by a group of adolescents including Major Depressive Disorder.

Using Ecological Momentary Assessment to Determine Media Use by Individuals With and Without Major Depressive Disorder (Primack et al, 2011)

The purpose of this study was to assess if there was an association with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and the type of media used by adolescents. Ecological Momentary Assessment [EMA] techniques were used to gather real time data on context behavior and mood in natural environments. The participants were 106 adolescents who were participating in a larger neurobehavioral study of depression being conducted in Pittsburgh from 1/1/03 – 12-31-08. 46 of the 106 participants in this EMA were experiencing MDD and the remaining 60 participants had no history of psychiatric disorder.

Telephone based brief interviews were conducted by trained staff. Data was collected using a modified answer only cellular telephone on which participants received a set number of calls each week over a period of eight weeks. Of the 6360 possible calls, 5677 were completed.

During the calls, participants were asked which type of media: TV, music or movie, video games, internet or print media such as magazines, newspaper and books they were using at that time. Data indicated that the average participant was watching a movie or TV on 26.3% of calls. Audio was being used 9.1% of the time, 6.1% for internet, 6% for video games and 0.02% of the time for reading nonelectronic media.

Results showed a possible association between popular music exposure and MDD. There was a trend toward more audio exposure in those with MDD. Use of audio-based media ( eg, MP3 and CD players) was linearly associated with the likelihood of an MDD diagnosis. There was significant bivariable association between TV/movie exposure and MDD. While the association was not present initially there existed the possibility that overtime it may become more strongly associated with MDD. Use of print media was significantly inversely associated with having MDD and associations with other electronic media were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: it lends additional support to previous theoretical concepts and empirical studies linking MDD with increased popular music use.

Music4Life recommendation: The Music Medicine Pill can move the listener into a space of intentional listening as opposed to 24/7 self-medication that may be covering up repressed or suppressed emotions.


This second study targets self-selected music and its effect on risky behaviors.

Music-Listening Habits with MP3 Player in a Group of Adolescents: a Descriptive Survey (Pellogrino et al, 2013)

The purpose of this study was to explore adolescent behaviors displayed while listening to music using an MP3 player and while in attendance at gatherings where music was played at a high volume.

1276 students attending a Florida secondary school during the 2009/2010 terms completed a descriptive survey. Results were used to identify sociodemographic characteristics, listening habits and some factors identified as risky or protective regarding possible development of health disorders.

88.2% of the sample were MP3 player users. 27.4% of these users engaged in the risky behavior of exposure to nonstop high volume listening.  44.6% of those using an MP3 player did so while driving.

Further analysis of results indicated that MP3 users showed a sort of addiction as evidenced by increased time and occasions of exposure to maximum or medium volume music without taking a break from it with the recommendation to better inform youngsters about the spread of risky behavior in music listening to achieve specific preventive interventions.

Music4Life recommendation: Music affects emotions and with guided affect regulation, mood disorders can be positively supported mood music listening strategies. Music4Life psycho-education training informs parents and therapists about these strategies to support positive outcomes for loved ones and clients. 



Pellegrino, E. et al. (Sep-Oct, 2013). Music-listening habits with MP3 player in a group of adolescents: a descriptive survey. Annali di Igiene, 25(5), 367-76. At https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24048175/

Primack, B. et al (April, 2011). Using Ecological Momentary Assessment to Determine Media Use by Individuals With and Without Major Depressive Disorder. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 165(4), 360-365.  At https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/384518


Today’s article was written by our Guest Blogger:

Judith Pinkerton, LPMT, MT-BC

Licensed board-certified music therapist

Founder/CEO, Music 4 Life® Inc.