Music Therapy May Be An Effective Depression Treatment For Children and Young Adults

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kids-listening-to-musicA fair amount of previous research has shown that music therapy is an effective method of helping individuals deal with physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs through the creation and singing of, moving to, and listen to music. Now, a group of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have taken these findings further.

A recent study, lead by Professor Sam Porter from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University, showed that music therapy can also be an effective treatment for depression in children and adolescents who exhibit emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems.

“This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs,” said Porter in a statement.

The team of researchers from Queen’s University partnered with the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust to recruit 251 children and young adults with emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems to participate in a study spanning from March 2011 to May 2014. The participants were split into two groups, including 128 individuals who were given traditional treatments for depression, and 123 who were treated with music therapy along with usual care.

Those who received musical therapy showed increases in self-esteem, communicative and interactive skills, and reduced depression symptoms compared to those who were only given traditional care. Follow-ups also showed that the positive results of music therapy were long lasting.

“Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomized controlled trial in a clinical setting,” said Ciara Reilly, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust.

“The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option,” Reilly added. “For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects.”

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