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Evidence-Based Resource Summary

Strength of Evidence: 
4 out of 4
4 out of 4
Year Published: 

Music Therapy for Depression

Description of Resource: 
Depression is a common problem that causes changes in mood and loss of interest and pleasure. Music therapy, an intervention that involves regular meetings with a qualified music therapist, may help improve mood through emotional expression. This systematic review aimed to assess the effectiveness of music therapy for depression compared to treatment as usual (TAU) or psychological therapy. It identified 9 studies involving 421 people from adolescence to older age. It found that music therapy in addition to TAU is more effective than TAU alone. Music therapy seems to reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety, and helps to improve functioning (e.g., maintaining involvement in jobs, activities, and relationships). It is unclear whether music therapy is better than psychological therapy. Future trials should study depression in children and adolescents, and future trial reports should thoroughly describe music therapy interventions, other interventions, and the person who delivers these interventions.

Evidence-Based Resource Details

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Developed By: 
Cochrane Review
Developer Type: 
Non-Federal Government
Healthy People 2020 Topic Area(s): 
Mental Health and Mental Disorders
Healthy People 2020 Objectives: 
Resource Type: 
Systematic Review
Aalbers S, Fusar-Poli L, Freeman RE, Spreen M, Ket JCF, Vink AC, et al. Music therapy for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2018 Feb 28];(11). Art. No.: CD004517. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004517.pub3. Available from: