Researchers in Finland have claimed that music therapy could be used to improve the treatment of people suffering from depression, in the short-term at least. A study of 79 individuals showed a greater improvement in those patients being treated with music therapy, compared to those receiving standard therapy.
The findings have been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, with experts claiming that music might be able to engage people in ways that words cannot.
Music therapy is often employed to help children who find it difficult to communicate and is featured as a tool used by the NHS. Being given the opportunity to play an instrument or sing with a trained music therapist is supposed to allow children to express themselves in a way they had not before.
A specialist in mental health services at Imperial College London, Dr Mike Crawford, said, “Music-making is social, pleasurable and meaningful. It has been argued that music making engages people in ways that words may simply not be able to.”
In the study carried out by the team from Finland, all the patients being treated for depression received the standard practice of counselling and suitable medication. Of the 79 participants, 33 of them were also given twenty sessions of music therapy, which involved things like drumming and singing.
After the first three months, the patients that had been having the meetings with a trained music therapist began to show a greater improvement in scores of depression and anxiety, compared to those that had not. However, over the course of six months, that was no statistical improvement.
Professor Christian Gold, from the University of Jyvaskyla, said, “Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care helps people to improve their levels of depression and anxiety. 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 the words to describe their inner experiences.”
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