Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Musicians Seeking Psychiatric Help: A Preliminary Study of Psychiatric Characteristics

Esther van Fenema, Jolien E. Julsing, Ingrid V. Carlier, Martijn S. van Noorden, Erik J. Giltay, Nic J. van der Wee, Frans G. Zitman
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 28 Number 1: Page 9 (March 2013)

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Abstract: Musicians are at increased risk for mental disorders, in particular performance anxiety. Likely causes are high levels of occupational stress, special personality traits, and coping skills. In this cross-sectional study, routine outcome monitoring (ROM) data on clinical and psychosocial characteristics were collected from the first 50 musicians visiting our outpatient psychiatric clinic for performing artists and were compared to those of a large sample of psychiatric outpatients (n=1,498) and subjects from the general population. Of the musician outpatients, 82% (n=41) met the criteria of an Axis I psychiatric disorder. Performance anxiety could not be accurately diagnosed with the MINI-plus, and in a few cases it masked different psychiatric disorders. Musician outpatients scored significantly better on functional scales despite their Axis I disorder, with equal scores on scales measuring distress compared to general outpatients. Musicians displayed significantly higher mean scores on the DAPP-sf subscale measuring narcissistic personality traits than general outpatients and non-patient controls (p=0.001). Diagnostic challenges, in particular regarding performance anxiety, of musicians seeking psychiatric care are thoroughly discussed. Musicians with psychiatric disorders may constitute a group of patients with specific characteristics who may benefit from specialized psychiatric care, and health professionals should be aware of the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in musicians.

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