by Jones P

Music Therapy May Help Relieve Symptoms of Depression

Depression and anxiety disorders are common and the symptoms can be debilitating. There are treatment options that may help you cope with these disorders and get your life back on track. Most treatment plans include a combination of medication and therapy. Therapy may include a variety of approaches. Each type of therapy may have its own focus such as skill training, behavioral modification, or use unique tools to encourage you. Music therapy has been used for many different health conditions and has been shown to provide motivation, communication pathways and emotional support.
Researchers from Norway examined whether music therapy, when added to standard care, decreased symptoms of depression or anxiety in depressed patients. The study, published in British Journal of Psychiatry, found that music therapy did reduce depressive symptoms in adults.

About the Study

The randomized trial included 79 adults who had been diagnosed with depression. The patients were split into two groups. The first group received standard care plus music therapy and the second group had only standard care. Standard care included short-term psychotherapy sessions led by a nurse specialist, medications, and psychiatric counseling when needed. Music therapy sessions occurred twice per week for 10 weeks.
At three months after treatment, people participating in music therapy had greater improvements in depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and general functioning. By six months there were no significant difference between the groups.

How Does This Affect You?

Randomized trials are considered one of the most reliable study designs. This trial was small and only followed patients through six months which limits its reliability. However, a previous systematic review found similar benefits with music therapy, namely decreased depressive symptoms and improved daily function. The more studies that have the same results the more likely the results are true. This one trial also suggested that music therapy was most beneficial in early treatment. More trials comparing different types of therapy may help clarify the timing of benefits from music therapy.
Therapy for depression varies from person to person but is often a combination of therapies. If you are struggling with depressive symptoms talk to your doctor or therapist. Changes to you current plan or the addition of an alternative therapy like music therapy may help you reach your goals.


American Music Therapy Association
The National Mental Health Association


Erkkila J, Punkanen M, Fachner J. Individual music therapy for depression: randomized controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;199(2):132-9.
Gold C, Solli HP, Kruger V, Lie SA. Dose-response relationship in music therapy for people with serious mental disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2009 Apr;29(3):193-207.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.

There are many approaches to chronic fatigue syndrome treatment that may include physical, mental, and educational aspects. But, are any of these approaches more effect...

Adhesive capsulitis is a tightening in the shoulder joint. It decreases the range of motion in the shoulder and causes pain. This condition is also known as frozen should...

12 Oxygen Therapy procedure

Oxygen therapy is a method of passing extra oxygen to the lungs. It is done to increase the level of oxygen in your blood....

13 Exercise natural & alternative treatment - alternative therapy
14 Types of Prenatal Testing condition indepth
15 Laceration Repair procedure

A laceration is a tear or cut in the skin, tissue, and/or muscle. They can vary in length, depth, and width. A laceration repair is the act of cleaning, preparing, and cl...

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing 100% oxygen in a sealed chamber. This concentration is 5 times higher than the normal air we breathe. The chamber is a...

17 Massage Therapy lifestyle - alternative health

There is no doubt that massage relieves pain and induces relaxation at least temporarily; and even better, it feels good! Whether it offers any lasting benefits, however,...

18 Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment natural & alternative treatment - alternative therapy
19 Electromyography procedure

Electromyography (EMG) measures and records the electrical activity of a muscle. The test can record a muscle's electrical activity at rest and during a muscle contractio...

20 Stuttering Can Be Stopped lifestyle - men's health

Stuttering is up to 4 times more common in men than in women. Learn how speech therapy can help stop you or your child from stuttering....