Music is known to have a strong effect on the human psyche. Now, a new study has found that it may help lift depressed people out of the dumps more than common antidepressant medications do.

Researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland found that depressed patients receiving music therapy showed a greater improvement than patients receiving standard therapy.

“Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care helps people to improve their levels of depression and anxiety,” said lead researcher professor Christian Gold.

“Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way — even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences,” professor Gold was quoted as saying by the BBC.

For the study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers selected 79 people with depression. All patients received the standard practice of counselling and appropriate medication, while 33 of them were also given 20 sessions with a trained music therapist, which involved things such as drumming.

After three months, patients receiving music therapy showed a greater improvement in scores of anxiety and depression than the other set of patients. However, there was no statistical improvement after six months.

Dr. Mike Crawford, who specialises in mental health services at Imperial College London, said in a journal editorial: “The results suggest that it can improve the mood and general functioning of people with depression. “Music-making is social, pleasurable and meaningful. It has been argued that music making engages people in ways that words may simply not be able to.”

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