Music Therapy For Treating Depression In Children

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How Music can Help Reduce Depression in Kids

Dealing with depression is difficult enough in adults but when your own child is suffering from this condition, it can be heartbreaking. It can seriously affect their development and the way that they relate to other children. Thankfully there is now a potentially new and ‘fun’ way to treat this condition and it’s all about the music. This article looks a little closer at how musical therapy could help young people with depression to beat this condition and offers both hope and positivity to their collective futures.
music happy child

What We Know So Far?

So the original study that unearthed this ground breaking discovery was originally carried out at Queens’ University in Belfast Northern Ireland. Essentially, they divided a group of 251 children who were between the ages of 8 and 16 years old. This study was also carried out at Bournemouth University in England. One group of 128 kids was treated for their depression by the traditional methods whilst the second group of 123 children received musical therapy. The results were somewhat surprising because the second group displayed a much higher sense of self-esteem and their depression was noticeably reduced compare to the group who received traditional treatment.

What Does This Mean?

kid playing guitar
To put it quite bluntly, these results turn the traditional methods of treating depression in children firmly on their head. Of course, it is an amazing turn of events because these findings also suggest that the results will be sustained into the future. According to Valerie Holmes from the University of Belfast’s Centre for Public Health, it was the largest study of its kind and the test subjects were considered to be extremely vulnerable. The musical therapy for depression was so effective that surely this strategy needs to be rolled out into a larger stage? Musical therapy has long been associated with offering a calming influence for people of all ages, but these findings are nothing short of astonishing.

What is Music Therapy?

According to research and extensive studies, music therapy works best when the patient’s favorite choice of music is selected. Essentially, music can act as a stimulus that causes a specific response in the brain. Provided that the chosen music is actually appreciated by the listener, it can evoke positive emotions as well as happy memories along with some vivid imagery. On the whole, many of us are actually happier to listen to music instead of dealing with emotional issues in a verbal form. It has been known to increase the happiness in dementia patients as well as those who are suffering from mental health issues. As far as children are concerned, musical therapy works very well indeed, especially when connected to a physical type of activity such as dancing. For musical therapy to work best, it is necessary to speak to the patient first so as to select the type of music that they prefer. As we all know, musical taste can be incredibly selective and this is why it evokes different emotions in whoever is listening.

How it works

children and music
So we have already established that music therapy seems to work for depressed children and that the results are already speaking volumes, but let’s take a slightly deeper look at this phenomenon. According to experts, the type of music technique can be key in the success or failure that the therapy realistically has. By assessing each child’s individual needs, the musical therapists can then choose the most appropriate method. For some children, the best way to teach them is by involving them in actually playing an instrument. For others, the best results are found when they are creating their own lyrics to a tune. The therapists must also look at the individual’s issues and underlying problems before formulating the best plan. Children are known to find this type of therapy to be non-threatening and very inviting. They feel that they can express their inner feelings without being judged. After some time, this type of therapy has also been proven the help the child develop their prosocial skills and trust issues can also be overcome in some cases. Essentially, children always associate music with a form of fun and freedom so this basically gives the therapists a vital head start when communicating with them.

The future?

As with any pioneering treatment for any health issue like depression, musical therapy also needs to be further tested on a larger stage, before it can be heralded as the next big thing. However, signs are very likely that the findings from these studies are positive enough to get very excited about. It’s also important to remember that children are the future and whilst this treatment may prove to be an invasive way to treat their depression, whenever possible, we should always do our utmost to prevent them from becoming depressed in the first place.

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About Author

Dr. Vidhi Jain

Dr. Vidhi Jain has over 7 years of experience as a Physiotherapist. She has a Masters in Physiotherapy in Orthopedics and is currently practicing at Vinayak Physiotherapy in Noida as HOD of the Physiotherapy Department. She has been nominated as 'Best Physiotherapy Consultant' in Noida & firmly believes in health care that is based on a personal commitment to meet patient needs with compassion and care. She also writes for Medlife International Private Limited, an online pharmacy store operating in India offering home delivery of authentic prescription medicines at discounted prices.

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