Treating Depression With Music Therapy


Studies have shown that music therapy paired with standard care can be an effective treatment for depression.

A 2011 Finnish study randomly assigned depressed adults into two groups: one that received standard care, which consists of antidepressant medication, individual psychotherapy sessions and psychiatric counseling, and another consisting of standard care plus 20 sessions of music therapy.

Improvement in Symptoms

The results aligned with previous studies’ results: People who received music therapy in addition to standard care experienced significantly greater improvement in depression than those who just received standard care.

Professor Christian Gold, study leader of the study on the subject said, “Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way – even in situations when they cannot find words to describe their inner experiences.”

But like clinical therapy, music therapy can have different results for different people. It is important to understand what music therapy is in order to see if its right for you.

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the clinical use of music interventions by a credentialed professional in therapeutic settings. It is an established health profession that addresses physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals by allowing them to express themselves in ways beyond just words. A qualified music therapist will provide treatment by allowing the client to create, sing, move to and/or listen to music.

Music therapy has been applied by health care professionals to aid people with mental health needs, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, brain injuries, physical disabilities, substance abuse problems and Alzheimer’s disease.

How It Works

A music therapist can prescribe you with at least 20 minutes per day of listening to music while focusing on feelings involved with your depression. Music triggers feelings in both the mind and body. The music you listen to may vary in order to see what music triggers certain emotions. Sessions can also have patients participate in song writing, lyric discussion and music performance.

Music Therapy Can Alleviate Depression

People with depression can enjoy music therapy because it allows them to express themselves and explore different forms of expression. Other benefits of music therapy in treating depression include:

  • Positive changes in the depressive state
  • The patient’s sense of success in treatment
  • Ability to open up during therapy session
  • Development of coping skills
  • Improvements in thought process and feelings

It is important to remember that all studies so far have shown that music therapy has only been effective when used in addition to standard care when treating depression.

“People haven’t always been there for me but music always has.” ~ Taylor Swift

Sources: Surviving Depression, Music Therapy, Medical News Today


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