Monday, November 1, 2010
Source: Miller-McCune magazine. August 2, 2010. Classical Music an Effective Antidepressant. By: Tom Jacob
Retrieved from: http://www.miller-mccune.com/health/classical-music-an-effective-antidepressant-20226/#idc-container
A newly published study from Mexico reports repeated listening to certain classical works — including one by Mozart — helps ease the debilitating symptoms of clinical depression.
“Music offers a simple and elegant way to treat anhedonia, the loss of pleasures in daily activities,” the research team, led by Miguel-Angel Mayoral-Chavez of the University of Oaxaca, reports in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy.
Following up on a small number of recent studies, the Mexican team conducted an experiment on 79 patients of an Oaxaca clinic. The 14 men and 65 women, ranging in age from 25 to 60, were diagnosed as suffering from low to medium levels of depression. They were not taking any medications for their condition.
All participated in an eight-week program. Half the group took part in a 30-minute weekly counseling session with a psychologist; the other half listened to a 50-minute program of classical music each day. Their recorded concert featured two baroque works (Bach’s Italian Concerto and a Concerto Grosso by his contemporary, Archangelo Corelli) and Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos. Each week, participants reported their levels of depression-related symptoms using a standard scale.
“We found positive changes at the fourth session in the music therapy group, with the participants showing improvement in their symptoms,” the researchers report. “Between the seventh and eighth weekly sessions, we observed improvement in 29 participants, with a lack of improvement in four. Eight abandoned the group.”
In contrast, among those who had experienced talk therapy, only 12 subjects showed improvement by Week Eight, compared to 16 who showed no improvement. Ten abandoned the study.
“Our results show a statistically significant effect for music,” the researchers conclude. “(They) strongly suggest that some baroque music, and the music of Mozart, can have conclusive beneficial effects on depressed patients.”
The researchers point to several possible reasons for the participants’ improved mental states, including the fact music “can activate several processes which facilitate brain development and/or plasticity.” They note that depression is often associated with low levels of dopamine in the brain, and/or a low number of dopamine receptors. Previous research has found listening to music can increase dopamine levels.
Given the overhyping of the Mozart Effect, it’s important to note these results do not mean (a) that talk therapy is unimportant, or (b) that people should throw out their Prozac and put on some Prokofiev. But as Mayoral-Chavez puts it, they do suggest people suffering from low- and medium-grade depression “can use music to enhance the effects of psychological support.”
The researchers aren’t claiming that Mozart’s music is uniquely magical; they note that different types of music “may have different effects on different people.” But the music they chose — complex, upbeat, stimulating — was clearly effective. And the patients even enjoyed it … after a while.
“At the beginning of the study, many of the chosen patients did not show a good disposition to listen to the music,” they report. “But later on, they not only proved to be interested parties, but also asked for more music of this type.”
We all have experienced the effect of music on our mood in both negative and positive ways. I am amazied by the way that a piece of music can affect the amount or reuptake of "serotonin", a nourotransmitter in brain which it's deficinecy can lead to depression symptoms, such as sadness, anhedonia, loss of concentration, anxiety,sleeping and appetite disorders, and in severe cases suicidal thought and attempts. Does music directly modulates the amount or reuptake of this neurotransmitter, or does it affect the mood indirectly by the way it makes us feel?
Surprisingly, not many psychiatrist sna dpsycologist introduce this option to their patients. Since depression is a very common chronic and " not easy to cure" psychiatric disorder, more commercialization about the therapeutic effect of music on depression and other mood disorders should be done.