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Depression: How Music Therapy can help the most common illness of the future

There are many modern ways of putting it: burnout, exhaustion, stress, mental fatigue. All have roots in depression. Depression affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide, and by 2030 the World Health Organisation predicts that more people will be affected by it than any other illness.

Someone can receive a diagnosis of depression after experiencing five or more symptoms over a two-week period, including depressed mood, less interest in activities and things that would usually bring pleasure, feelings of worthlessness and a marked lack of energy.

There are also times in life where many of us experience a change in mood due to a life event or a particular area of life - burnout is the most current example of a condition bearing depression-like symptoms that is specifically related to work.

How can music therapy help?

The evidence suggests that music therapy can provide beneficial effects for people with depression. At the moment we can say this with certainty in the short term, and more research will enable us to know whether the effects can last on a longer basis. It has been tested the most when working alongside other treatments, such as medication and other kinds of therapy.

The biggest advantage music therapy has, over other types of therapy, is that it bypasses language. Using musical interventions, such as live music making and songwriting, the work can get to the heart of an issue much more directly. For someone with depression, who may find talking openly extremely difficult, using music may provide a way into therapy that might not have been possible using other means.

For more information on exactly how music therapy works, this article gives an excellent overview of the many ways musical interventions can be applied.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depressive symptoms and could benefit from music therapy, get in touch with NLMT here.

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