Music Therapy Helpful for Depressed and Anxious Patients

Music therapy sessions may be more useful than standard counseling for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety.

According to a recent study performed in Finland, music therapy sessions may be more useful than standard counseling for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety.

Participants of the study who received music therapy for three months showed a greater improvement in scores of anxiety and depression than patients who did not receive music therapy.

“We found that people often expressed their inner pressure and feelings by drumming or with the tones produced with a mallet instrument. Some people described their playing experience as cathartic”, reported Professor Jaakko Erkkila, lead researcher of the study.

The research was conducted by Erkkila and fellow researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla. The study was performed on seventy-nine adult participants who had all been diagnosed with depression, all between the ages of eighteen and fifty years old.

Erkkila administered forty-six of the participants regular counseling, anti-depressants, and psychotherapy. The other thirty-three participants were given the same treatments, but also received twenty music therapy sessions with a trained music therapist on top of the regular courses of treatment.

The researchers discovered that, after three months, participants who were given music therapy exhibited decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression in comparison to participants who did not receive music therapy.

After six months, however, there was no statistical improvement.

Mike Crawford, who specializes in mental health services at Imperial College London, reported in a journal editorial, "The results suggest that [music therapy] can improve the mood and general functioning of people with depression.”

The study has been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.