Alzheimer's DementiaAnxiety (Panic)/DepressionArt, Music, DanceElderly

Accumulating evidence supports music therapy for depression

Researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla, in Finland, studied the benefits of music therapy when added to standard care among working-age people with depression.

First, the details.

  • 79 people with an ICD-10 diagnosis of depression were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Individual music therapy + standard care (20 bi-weekly sessions)
    • Standard care only
  • Changes in depression, anxiety, general functioning, quality of life, and alexithymia (inability to identify or describe emotions) were recorded at 3 and 6 months.

And, the results.

  • Participants receiving music therapy + standard care showed greater improvement than those receiving standard care in depression symptoms and general functioning at the 3-month follow-up.
  • The response rate was significantly higher for the music therapy + standard care group compared to the standard care only group.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Individual music therapy combined with standard care is effective for depression among working-age people with depression.”

Recently published studies that support these findings include the following.

  • Among elderly depressed patients
    • Researchers at the National University of Singapore reported, “there were statistically significant reductions in geriatric depression scores and sleep quality at week 4.”
  • In older people with dementia
    • Researchers at Griffith University, in Nathan, Australia, reported that more than half of those in the music group reported improvements in self-esteem over time.
  • In patients with Alzheimer’s type depression,
    • Researchers at Inserm, in Montpellier, France, reported significant improvements in anxiety and depression in the music therapy group from week 4 and until week 16.
      • Furthermore, the effect of music therapy was sustained up to 8 weeks after discontinuation of sessions between weeks 16 and 24.

4/16/11 18:14 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.