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June 21, 2011


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The music used for the music therapy in the depressed individuals consisted of electronic mallet, acoustic drum and percussion instruments. I would agree that this type of music is better for depression compared to some classical music, since it will create excitement. The biological relation is interesting, what type of hormones are secreted more in the depressed ? Do serotonin levels increase?

I can definitely understand how music would have the potential to positively effect someone's mood. I am wondering exactly what the music therapy in this study consisted of. Did they actually play instruments, or only listen to music? Also, what kind of music, and did it depend entirely on the person's preference?

While I think that this study is encouraging as an adjunct treatment, I would caution against alternative depression treatment being limited to the studies we have available. Depression is a state of mind that affects each person individually. While there are great studies out there like this one that show the benefit of music therapy, I think that treatment options need to be individualized to the patient. Sure if the patient doesn't know what direction to go in, an option with a backed study would be a fine choice. But I would encourage health care providers to delve into patient preferences. Perhaps the patient prefers something else such as volunteering, actively participating in their religion, owning a pet, baking, joining a support group, etc. I think that when a person feels their life has purpose, they are able to see value in themselves and depression symptoms can be reduced. There are many avenues to achieve this, thus I feel patient specific options should be priority even though a study may not be available for them.

I think that ALeal makes a good point about including other types of art therapy in the discussion in addition to music therapy. Art therapy is Natural Standard evidence grade B for quality of life in the elderly, caregiver training, suicidal adolescents, and transitional stress in children. In my personal experience writing poetry and drawing comics, I find art to be very helpful in handling any type of stress.

I have volunteered at a children’s hospital before but never thought about incorporating poetry into my visits with the patients. Maybe I will try that in the future.

I noticed that music therapy also has an evidence based grade of B for adjunct therapy for pain. I agree that music not only helps improve mood but it also helps decrease pain. Whether its psychological pain (depression, loss of a loved one, a break up, etc) or physical pain (injury, chronic pain, etc.), music tends to distract the individual from the pain that they're experiencing and it allows them to enter a different state of well-being and comfort.

Music is a great way to relieve stress and take your mind off things. The type of music should be based on personal preference however. For depression, I would think that positive and uplifting music would be more helpful as well. Now I am in the mood to listen to some music!

I love that this study was conducted. I have been a dancer my whole life and I've always found that the combination of music and moving can be so uplifting. Gina, I completely agree, depending on what I am doing I choose different types of music to listen to. I think it's wonderful behavioral health experts are looking into something so simple and readily available as music to improve their patients moods and quality of life.

I agree with kc on music therapy being individualized. I am curious though if there are any studies showing specific styles of music for the general population and the effect each music style elicits. For example, classical may help memory/cognition or calms people whereas heavy rock may increase blood pressure, etc.

As others have commented on, I think it would be interesting to see a larger study with different types of music to see how people would respond. It also seems that music therapy needs to be very individualized, considering one type of music may relax one person but give another person anxiety. That could also be one downside to some studies, as it may be hard to generalize the findings to other populations. But it's very interesting and it's great to see that people are taking the time to study it.

If you want to see this first hand, volunteer at your local hospital's "arts in medicine" (or the like) department. I had the most accomplished moments in my health care advocacy (twice now) when I "Holiday Caroled" around the Cancer Center where I live. To see patients' eyes and faces light up so quickly when they heard us singing and walking in the hallways, having them follow us and request more and more, singing along and laughing, calling us all "angels"... was absolutely a life-changing experience. Going onto the children's floor(s) is certainly an amazing experience, too!

If you play an instrument, bring it along with you! If you USED to play an instrument, pick it up again and make use of your secret talent or get better at it! Even if you aren't any good anymore -- bring it anyway! You'll be sure to brighten SOMEONE's day there. If you can't sing or play an instrument, paint or draw with them. Even if you can't draw or paint, try it out anyway!

I really encourage you (obviously) to jump on even just an hour to see this for yourself, where ever you live.

Music therapy has an evidence based grade of B on the Natural Standard website. It has some positive results but there can still be some more studies to support it.

Another Grade B therapy people can try is yoga. Yoga has many uses as well.

Its great to have scientific evidence behind therapies that are not drug related and it is even better there is positive evidence for these therapies. Depression is all around the country and world.

I think when I use music as a stress-reliever or if I'm trying to lift up my mood I tend to do it through connecting with lyrics of songs. If I am working out or want to feel energized I connect more with the tempo of the music. I have heard that classical music tends to help people concentrate and think more clearly but I have not experienced this myself. I think that music therapy is underrated in the clinical setting and I would like to see it used more because I think it has great potential for mood disorders.

I think music has the potential to change mood based on my own experience, but I wonder whether the genre of music used in the therapy affects a patient’s response. Classical music renders me less anxious, whereas a classic rock tune energizes me.

The intervention in this study was bi-weekly music therapy sessions which involved electronic mallet and percussion instruments and an acoustic drum. Before reading about the intervention I had thought that music therapy would involve some kind of classical music with a harmony and melody. It sounds like this type of music therapy is more about percussion, which seems like a great way to channel stress.

A meta-analysis done in 2011 looked at a different type of music therapy for preterm infants (who obviously cannot use percussion instruments) in various settings. Clinical improvement was found in the infants who had musicians come to the hospital and play music for them.


Music can actually lift our mood, touch our souls and give an immediate cure to most of the problems we are facing.

Thanks for this interesting and educative article about music therapy.

This study is very interesting!

I can see how music can help improve an individual's mood. Music tends to help me feel productive when I work. It also relieves stress and makes me feel more energized.

Perhaps a study with a larger patient population would help convey this even further.

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