Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Goths and depression?


There has been much talk on the dark side of the net about a recent study supposedly claiming Goths are more depressed than other Subcultures.

Here are some good responses online to this study:




What follows is only my opinion and personal experience. However it should be taken into account that persons such as myself that have been in the subculture for quite some time might know a little more about it than researchers who may just lump all dark alternative kids into the same box or view the culture as the cause of depression rather than a way for lonely outcasts to find a place where they feel at home.

I have had bad anxiety and been a bit obsessive since I can remember. Even as a kid I was eaten up by anxiety. For a long time I assumed this was normal. Even after that I was afraid to seek help because being a Goth is often misjudged as a cause of depression by the mental health community. I was lucky to eventually find help without judgement, and urge anyone who is judged by their doctor or counselor to seek a second opinion.

I didn't get into Goth because I had anxiety, although the ability to look at death with humour and without fear was a definite relief for someone who made elaborate plans to escape the house in case of a fire and suchlike since childhood. I was always expecting something bad to happen to me. Goth let me have a sense of humour about death.

I have always liked the elegant past, elaborate architecture, etc. I grew up rather like a child in the past, with rather strict overprotective parents. Books were my main friends, I was always socially awkward and said the wrong things. In my first year or high school, my "friends" literally ran away from me and hid at lunchtimes.

I discovered Poe when I was around 11 or 12, reading The Black Cat in a story collection. For some reason I thought it was a true confession of a murderer. I soon found out it wasn't, but I was hooked. In my second year of high school I discovered Into the Dark by Victor Kelleher (a retelling of Dracula) and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. I fell in love with lush Gothic literature. I also had older friends I only saw in school who played Vampire The Masquerade, which piqued my interest, although I never played.

But this article isn't about my Goth journey, it's about whether Goth is related to depression.

I really identified with what the lady said in that video, I too already liked the art, literature, architecture, loved the past and a sense of Goth romance, finding there was a culture that embraced them was like coming home.

It was also a relief that Goth did not make us hide our emotions like I was often taught, but express sadness through poetry, art, stories, things like that may make goths seem more depressed, but are actually a great outlet for those feelings. You also aren't made to feel bad or weird for having those emotions which is often not the case in everyday life. It can nurture your creative side as creativity is often highly valued in Goth society.

I have always been someone whose emotions were close to the surface, I cry easily, I take cruel words to heart. Goth helped me see there was nothing wrong with me. I was stronger knowing I had a tribe of like minded folk. My kindred.

The thing that can make teenage goths more depressed is the bad reactions of friends and family, even professionals. My family definitely made me feel like the black sheep and that made me quite depressed. If anything any study based around young goths should focus on convincing parents to find things in common with their children and not isolate them because of misconceptions. Since I was a Goth teen more sources have come out doing this like Gillian Venters, I only wish she had been around back then! Maybe my parents would have listened to her.

There also needs to be understanding in schools as alternative kids are more likely to be bullied and they need to be supported by staff. I was lucky to never be discrimated against for being goth, just being socially awkward. Teenagers should not be told that changing themselves to suit the mainstream is the answer, Goth teaches us that we should express ourselves, no matter what everyone else thinks of that.

As with everything else, of course, it should be noted that some people can get too obsessed with being "Gother Than Thou" and if your friends become like that you should nicely mention it to them. There was a time when I cared too much what other Goths thought of me, but I got over it. There will always be negative people in every group but I have found the majority of Goths to be welcoming.

In case anyone who might have read some of my recent mentions of my current bad anxiety and depression but not have read my posts last year when I talked more about it:

I have had depression and anxiety quite badly for over a year that was probably mainly triggered by the stress of finishing a three year degree, countless job applications and interviews, only to find that there was very little employment in my area and that I was considered overqualified for many jobs and could not even get a look-in. Unfortunately it triggered a breakdown, feelings of worthlessness and very bad social anxiety. Although I have definitely improved since then my social anxiety is still quite bad. The anxiety and depression have nothing whatsoever to do with my involvement in the Goth subculture.

To finish off the post on a positive note, here is another study that apparently proves black makes us sexier!



  1. I recognise myself in how you felt and still feel. My problem in school was that I really tried to fit in, but that just made things worse, I should have just been quiet instead, because that is what I really wanted. ^^

  2. Oh the world of LABELs ......I won't bore you with what I know, but just say this.
    You are a clever, articulate young women, the world is yours....once was a clear rule book of civilization , society and protocol NOW a blithering mess....so do what you do best.....I don't know what your degree is in, but I have observed a compassionate soul....role model to many of today's youth who are marginalized. Group together with your friends, discuss what is lacking in your area....where is the IN YOUR face need ...please, don't take no for an answer...it's coming from a disposable world.
    It was from reading others accounts of anxiety, that I learned why my throat closes when I am overwhelmed.....You see, all information is readily available now.,,our / mine, parents perspectives are just that....kids now challenge this, and in most homes, is a good thing.
    Wow, this old crone does rant on !! Be You and Shine On! xo

  3. I totally get this, you are quite right on all pointers. Depression and anxiety are very common illnesses, and like you said, just because goths may express themselves in a darker fashion doesn't make them more depressed than the rest of society. I bet there are more "normal" people with depression and anxiety than goths with these conditions, they simply don't express it or talk about it. Which I think is deeply unhealthy. I think the goth subculture is better for the mental health of it's members than pretending to be normal

  4. I also read that article and was quite fascinated by the view that common press reporters offer. I downloaded the actual research which sounds much more goth positive! The analysed goth only as a part of rebellious subcultures, so the conclusion about depression is not focused on goth but includes punk as well. I think on the contrary that depressed teenagers might be more attracted to goth subculture than to mainstream! And another thing that is not discussed is that goths tend to have higher income and eduction. Higher intelligence on the other hand is associated with risk of depression. So maybe, just maybe - is the interpretation of the study by mainstream media oversimplified?! ^^

  5. Yeah, I've been seeing discussion about this too. Parents probably worried about their kids going back to school. Maybe they should. I know I wasn't a happy kid when I discovered industrial/metal. Even goth was a prettier place than where I wanted to be. I know I'm the minority here, but sometimes things get ugly fast when you embrace the dark side of things. I know I'm happy where I am...now...but there are some people who aren't. Overall, the scene is a lot more positive now though, I feel. Almost straight-edge

  6. I think too many people believe that the outside of a person (or what they understand of that outside) tells them who and what the person is. Well, that's an enormous load of crap. I'm not Goth, but you know I love the dark and bloody bits (and my sexy black). Often, many people have said that my appreciation of the death rituals and the macabre is some sort of defense mechanism, which I supposedly employ to hide my fear and inadequacies. That's idiotic. I'm fascinated by death and dark and the things most people rather not talk about because I'm curious. I like learning in the open... and what a large amount of the general population refers too as "normal" bores me.

    Most Goths I'm known shroud themselves in their emotions. The shrouds are black and bright, full of glitter and bones, with the red of life and passion and the smiles of well-lived skulls. Some things most be felt in order to be understand. I believe, that's one of the main reasons why so many "experts" have no idea what they are talking about.

  7. "I have always been someone whose emotions were close to the surface, I cry easily, I take cruel words to heart. Goth helped me see there was nothing wrong with me. I was stronger knowing I had a tribe of like minded folk. My kindred."

    This, many times over. Thanks for articulating a difficult subject so well Laura.

    Jane (BTA)

  8. I really love that everyone is adding their opinion on this topic lately, sadly mainstream society will not read a lot of them I guess (and if they do they won't take it much serious) but you made some really great points here with a bit of your personal story to prove it. Great post!