The Benefits of Music Therapy for Depression

Music for Depression Treatment

The Benefits of Music Therapy for DepressionYou have tried therapy for years with limited results. You have tried more medications than you care to remember with no success. You changed your diet, your sleep patterns and cut caffeine out of your life completely with no change. You mediate, journal, do yoga, volunteer weekly and you even took up running because you read that exercise is really good for you. After all of this, you remain depressed.

When depression strikes, it can come on all at once, or it can nibble away at you over time. Left untreated or without effective treatment, depression will debilitate the sufferer. You will feel lowered mood, less motivation, less energy, lower self-worth and changing sleep and appetite. You worry because you want to stop the development of depression as soon as possible. If nothing else has worked, what can you do?

Have you tried music for depression therapy yet? The field of mental health treatment has been paying a lot of attention to music therapy lately. In recent months, there was a study published from Northern Ireland about the efficacy of music therapy for people with depression. The study took 251 people under the age of 18 with emotional and behavioral problems and split them into two groups. The first group received standard mental health treatment. The second group of participates received the standard care combined with music therapy. The researchers learned that participants that received the additional music therapy were more likely to report reduced depression and improved self-esteem.


What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a type of expressive arts therapy. Music is used in the therapeutic relationship to address the needs and improve the well-being of the client. A trained music therapist will assess the strengths and goals of the client to build a treatment plan. The plan may include singing, playing or moving to music. Music therapy also involves creating music through writing lyrics or composing original pieces of music. The goal is that music provides the client with abilities and strengths that are transferable to other aspects of life.

A music therapist is a trained and credentialed professional that has at least a bachelor’s degree. They can be found in a range of settings including hospitals, schools, personal care homes and outpatient therapy. They work with a number of physical and psychological issues including depression, anxiety, autism, dementia, mental retardation and prematurity in infants.

When working to understand what something is, it is equally important to note what it is NOT. Activities that include music but are not necessarily music therapy include:

  • Someone listening to his favorite song
  • A concert at a school
  • A guitarist in a nursing home
  • A piano player in the lobby of a hospital
  • Nurses playing background music for patients

That’s not to say that these things are not beneficial, but they are not considered music therapy. True music therapy must be done under supervision of a music therapist.

Next page: outcomes of music therapy and more.

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