The power of music in depression

Depression could be overcome through the use of music therapy, according to the findings of research conducted by Professor Christian Gold from the University of Jyvaskyla, which was founded 75 years ago.

The study, which looked at 79 people and was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found levels of anxiety and depression was lowered when people made music.

"Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way - even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences," Professor Gold said.

In a journal editorial article printed alongside the research, Dr Mike Crawford, a Specialist in Mental Health Services at Imperial College London, suggested making music can improve the general functioning of a person who is affected by depression.

He explained music has the ability to bring out feelings in people, which writing words down is not able to do in the same manner. 

Philip Johnson, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "In all the years I worked in mainstream psychiatric services, art therapy and music therapy were an accepted part of the service provision. The idea that music enables another form of personal expression, is supported in my view, as it assists self-value and self belief to develop, and literally resonates with physical feelings that can trigger or remind a person of positive as well as difficult and indeed traumatic times in their past.

"Symbolically, singing can help create a voice for someone for whom depression has left them feeling unassertive, and with a view they do not 'have a voice'.

"Music does create emotional responses, which are often associative and can be positive and uplifting, as well as triggering a range of thoughts and feelings. In my work with athletes and teams, I encourage singing (to music) as a means of them developing their voice, their group and individual identity, given the demands of communication in sport.

"Music has also the capacity to do this and assist in recovery from depression for some people, as indeed music helps to define identity as many of us might recall in those years of personal development through our teenage years and later."