Treating Depression With Music Therapy (and Lifting a Funk With the Dave Matthews Band)
I was in a horrible mood the day before I emerged from hibernation. Disgruntled, “a state of sulky dissatisfaction,” according to the Visual Thesaurus, is too mild a word, but combined with gloom and self-hatred it paints the picture. I made it through the day OK, but was out of my mind by evening. Hart had a work dinner, so he wasn’t around to break me out of my funk.
I considered turning music on, but craved silence. When my mood hadn’t lifted by 8:30 p.m., I was willing to try anything to break free from my self-imposed cage. Perhaps the Dave Matthews Band could cheer me up.
A smile blossomed as soon as I hit play. Duh, Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band have never failed to make me happy. Except when I need to wallow in bleak lyrics and feel sorry for myself. Actually, I feel better after listening to them then, too.
Recent research indicates that music can be an effective depression treatment. The study was of listening to or creating music with trained music therapists, not simply turning on your iPod. Still, the power and potential of music is undeniable.
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.
Two findings really jumped out at me: Music therapy is appealing to many people who aren’t interested in conventional depression treatments, like teenagers. Also, people less likely to drop out of music therapy than other therapies.
My only question is if playing Rock Band qualifies as making music.