The New York Times, January 24, 2008, 10:38 am
Tara Parker-Pope on Health
Using Music to Lift Depression’s Veil
Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Now new research shows that music therapy — either listening to or creating music with a specially trained therapist — can be a useful treatment for depression.
The finding that music therapy offers a real clinical benefit to depression sufferers comes from a review by the Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit group that reviews health care issues. Although there aren’t many credible studies of music therapy for depression, the reviewers found five randomized trials that studied the effects of music therapy. Some studies looked at the effects of providing music therapy to patients who were receiving drug treatment for depression. Others compared music therapy to traditional talk therapy. In four out of five of the trials, music therapy worked better at easing depression symptoms than therapies that did not employ music, the researchers found.
“The current studies indicate that music therapy may be able to improve mood and has low drop-out rates,” said lead author Anna Maratos, an arts therapist for the National Health Service in London. “While the evidence came from a few small studies, it suggests that this is an area that is well worth further investigation….We need to find out which forms have greatest effect.”
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Click here to listen to a podcast about music therapy with the study author.