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The psychological reasons why you don’t forget the songs you listened to as a teenager

The psychological reasons why you don’t forget the songs you listened to as a teenager

There's a reason you love that Throwback Thursday playlist.

There’s a reason you love that Throwback Thursday playlist.
  • People tend to enjoy listening to songs they heard while growing up.
  • It may be more than just nostalgia.
  • As teenagers, our bodies are full of hormones and intense feelings.
  • This means we can latch on to songs more than we do when we’re older.
  • But there could also be an evolutionary explanation – being popular helped our distant ancestors survive.
  • The result is never forgetting a song you heard when you were young.

When I think back to being a teenager, music is a vivid part of the memories. Certain songs and artists take me back to school, friendships, parties, and even remind me of the intense, angsty emotions I left behind long ago.

Not only did I leave behind strong feelings in my youth, but also, apparently, the ability to appreciate new music.

Earlier this year, a survey by Deezer found that people tend to stop listening to new songs and artists by age 30. One reason for this is because between the ages of 12 and 22, our brains go through a lot of changes. We’re incredibly hormonal and sensitive, so if we hear a song we really love, it’s more likely to stay with us forever.

When we hear songs we like later in life, it might not elicit the same strong response because we aren’t such sponges anymore.

We also often turn to music when we want to shut off from the world. And this can happen when we’re particularly angry, upset, or generally having a lot of feelings. During puberty and the devastating relationship woes that come with growing up, music was likely a big part of helping you through it all.

Read more: Scientists finally figured out why you get goosebumps when you hear your favourite song

When economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz analysed Spotify data, he found that if you were in your early teens when a song was first released, it will be more popular among your age group a decade later. Radiohead’s “Creep,” for example, is a favourite among 38-year-old men, but it doesn’t even reach the top 300 songs for those born 10 years earlier or later.

Similarly, an article in Quartz explains why people in my generation – the millennials – will always remember Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe.”

“We’re evolutionarily primed to take in a lot more social and emotional information during our teenage years than in other part of our life,” wrote author Katherine Ellen Foley. “It’s why your ultimate throwback playlist really depends on when you were in the throes of adolescence.”

Earlier on in human evolution, the teenage years were where people tried to find mates. Behavioural adaptations we make to be popular and liked at this age may be strongly linked to that.

For example, listening to the same songs as everyone else helps to solidify your social standing in the group.

I never particularly liked “Call Me Maybe.” It didn’t stop me hearing it everywhere. Sometimes, it’s just easier to pretend you like something that everyone else is singing, wearing, or watching.

We tried to fit in with a group back at school, so we collected as much social ammunition as possible to make sure everyone else knew we were relevant.

Although it seems less important in adulthood, when you’ve had more time to work out who you are, the connection is obviously hard to shake.

An influential group of doctors says all teens should get screened for depression — here are some of the questions they ask

An influential group of doctors says all teens should get screened for depression — here are some of the questions they ask

Daiana Lorenz/Youtube
  • In new guidelines released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all young people over age 12 get screened for depression.
  • Many people, including adults, are not properly diagnosed with depression or other psychiatric diseases.
  • If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from depression, seeing a medical professional should be your first step.

The teens are not alright.

That’s the premise behind a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the largest groups of doctors of its kind. In its new guidelines, released Monday and published in the journal Pediatrics, the group says all young people over the age of 12 should be screened for depression every year – potentially as part of their annual check-up.

The statistics suggest that the group is onto something important.

Only about half of all young people who have depression are diagnosed before they become adults, and as many as two-thirds of adolescents with depression do not get treated. Those numbers are not that different for adults: Of the roughly one in five Americans with anxiety, depression, or another psychiatric disease, close to two-thirds are estimated to have gone at least a year without treatment.

“It’s a huge problem,” psychiatrist Rachel Zuckerbrot, the lead author behind the guidelines and an associate professor at Columbia University, told National Public Radio.

And it appears to be getting worse.

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of American teens who frequently experienced high levels of depressive symptoms like joylessness rose 33%, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. The same study suggested that deaths by suicide among teenagers went up 31%.

In 2011, for the first time in more than two decades, suicide began killing more teenagers than homicide.

The new guidelines emphasize the need to identify young people who are at higher risk of developing depression than their peers. These are adolescents who may have experiences of trauma or substance abuse, have experienced depression previously, or have a family member with a history of depression or another psychiatric disease.

The best way to identify someone with depression typically involves asking them a series of questions, which are usually given either on paper or electronically on a tablet.

But many people – not just teens – have trouble identifying that they are depressed. So the questions are often designed to get at symptoms of depression, which can include trouble sleeping, a lack of appetite, or a disinterest in doing things that once brought the person pleasure (like hanging out with friends, going to a regular fitness class, or cooking).

Here’s an example of some of the questions featured on one of the most widely used depression screenings, which you can access via the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Many questions assess how frequently a person experiences potential symptoms – from “not at all” to “nearly every day.”

depression screening questions

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Importantly, these questions aren’t exhaustive.

Even with these surveys, some people without depression are wrongly diagnosed and given medications they don’t need. Other times people with depression go undiagnosed and don’t get the right treatment (this appears to be the predominant issue).

If you’re concerned that you or a young person in your life may have depression or another psychiatric disease, going to a physician or doctor should be the first step.

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