Anti-Depressive Music: Can It Help People with Depression?

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Music sparks the emotions and can be either uplifting or soothing – depending upon what you listen to. But can it ease depression too? There’s some evidence to suggest that “anti depressive music” has some of the same benefits as conventional therapy for depression. What are the benefits of anti depressive music – and is there any science behind using music to treat the symptoms of depression?

Does It Really Help Depression?

The Cochrane database, a respected, evidence-based medicine site that analyzes the results of clinical trials, looked at five different randomized, controlled studies designed to determine how music therapy affects depression - and how it compares to other forms of treatment for depression.

Based on their analysis, they couldn’t definitively say that music relieves depression since so little research is available, but they did conclude that people who listened to music improved their mood and overall outlook, at least based on these five studies.

Even more surprising was four out of five of these studies suggested that music was more effective than traditional therapies for depression – and a lot less expensive too.

Benefits Over Traditional Treatments for Depression

Listening to anti-depressive music to ease the symptoms of depression could have some advantages over drug therapy - particularly conventional anti-depressants. Prescription anti-depressants have side effects, and some studies show they increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. If anything, listening to music is heart-healthy, because it reduces stress and lowers blood pressure levels. Anti-depressive music is also an inexpensive form of therapy since almost anyone can afford a radio or CD player.

Listening to anti-depressive music could be an especially good form of therapy for teenage depression since teens are more likely to embrace the idea of listening to music as an alternative to seeing a therapist or taking medications - and are likely to be compliant with this type of treatment.

Which Type of Music is Best to Relieve Depression?

Obviously, it’s important for a depressed person listen to music they enjoy. Even though some types of classical music are soothing, relaxing, or uplifting, it won’t be very effective if the person listening to it hates classical music. A person who suffers from depression and feels tense and nervous much of the time may benefit most from relaxing new-age music, while a person with depression-related fatigue and lethargy may feel better listening to fast-paced, uplifting tunes.

There are other ways that music may have anti-depressive effects. Some depressed people have problems expressing their true feelings but can articulate themselves through music. Playing an instrument or even writing their thoughts down in the form of song lyrics may be therapeutic as can dancing to fast-paced tunes.

The Bottom Line?

There haven’t been a lot of studies looking at the role of anti-depressive music for treating depression, but the small number of studies that are available show benefits. Of course, it’s important for anyone who’s depressed to seek medical attention since more severe forms of depression may require medication or counseling – but music could be therapeutic for some people with mild depressive symptoms.


The Cochrane Collaboration. “Music therapy for depression”

Web Md. “Antidepressants May Raise Stroke Risk”