Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Music therapy may help depression

In Brief

Music therapy may help depression

A review by the international Cochrane Collaboration concluded that music therapy may help some people with depression to alleviate symptoms and remain healthy. In four of the five studies the reviewers included in their analysis, people who participated in some type of music therapy reported a greater reduction of depressive symptoms than people who received other types of psychotherapy.

Because there are many types of music therapy available, the reviewers only examined those studies that involved music therapy carried out within a structured therapeutic framework that involved some type of musical interaction with a therapist or other patients. Mood symptoms were assessed through standardized instruments, such as the Beck Depression Inventory.

Duration of therapy varied from six to 10 weeks, and the type of interventions varied. For example, some included guided imagery along with the music, while others encouraged patients to listen to music and then discuss it. Most enrolled adolescents or older adults.

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