Music therapy helps reduce depression in kids and teens

Music therapy helps reduce depression in kids and teens

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 11 percent of adolescents have depression.

Depression can have life-long negative impacts on children and adolescents, but a recent study says music therapy can be a solution to help reduce symptoms.

The study was led by Professor Sam Porter from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University-Belfast in Northern Ireland. Researchers from the university partnered with Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust to discover that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems.

Between March 2011 and May 2014, 251 children and adolescents were involved in this study. As a result, each individual was treated with music therapy to improved their self-esteem and reduce depression in their everyday life.

Certified music therapist, Kara Ryan from Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., explains several techniques that are utilized in sessions when helping with children and adolescents experiencing depression:

  • Music assisted relaxation: This technique is used to decrease physiological symptoms of depression such as heart rate and respiration rate.
  • Lyric analysis, song writing and recording: The music therapist can select lyrical content that may be useful for the child to explore and the child/teen can play an active role in music composition to express feelings. In a group setting these interventions can improve self -esteem as music creations are acknowledge by peers or collaboration takes place that can reduce feelings of isolation common in depression.
  • Improvised music making: This technique is used between the therapist and client or in a peer group setting to promote reduced isolation and increase expressive communication skills. The therapist may choose affective themes and participants can use music to express and modulate different emotions.

Clinical psychologist, Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, also from Advocate Children’s Hospital, explains that depression can occur as the result of difficult life circumstances; which include problems at home, the loss of a family member, school problems or a series of difficult situations.

“There are a number of circumstances that make cause a child or teen to experience depression and children can develop depression despite strong family support and close relationships,” Dr. Roberts says.

Dr. Roberts also states that parents sometimes blame themselves when they have done nothing wrong or did not realize that there was a problem.

“Blaming is not helpful. What is helpful is addressing the problem once it is identified,” Dr. Roberts says.

Dr. Roberts provides the following tips for parents on how they can help their child or teen if they have depression:

  • Listen and be supportive: Make sure your child or teen is not alone.
  • Improve their mood: Encourage and help your child or teen to a plan a fun activity to do each day.
  • Reach out to others: A school personnel or other family members are great resources who can provide additional support to the child or teen throughout the day.
  • Seek treatment: If the symptoms of depression persist, parents should seek help for the child or teen from a psychologist or other mental health professional. It is always better for a parent to have a child or teen evaluated if the parent is unsure of whether the child needs help. Parents can always consult the pediatrician or school counselor for a referral to a mental health professional.

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  1. Music therapy sounds like a very positive approach to depression in children and teens.

  2. Lynn Hutley

    Music can play such a role in health and healing. I think this is evident from newborn lullabyes to end of life care.

  3. 11% of adolescents having depression is too high! If playing music can help decrease these numbers, I am all for it!

  4. Teenage depression is one of the major problems that affects deeply in most of the teenagers. This.This depressions may lead to the usage of drugs, alcohol, violence and even have tendency for suicide. Lack of concentration, tearfulness, Irritability, sadness, change in habits, anger etc. are the main symptoms of depression. There are plenty of treatment options for depression including therapy treatments, yoga and meditation. The therapeutic massage from Erin Mills wellness center is one of the alternative therapy treatments for depression. Many scientists proved that massage therapy is not only used for improving physical health but also to improve our mental health and reduce the symptoms associated with depression and other health disorders.

  5. Music has been proven to help in many ways. It is helpful to facilitate communication, particularly with children who struggle with speech and social reciprocity. It also helps kids with ADHD and Autism spectrum to navigate transitions… through songs that create a story, or narrative about the transition. In addition, because it integrates many areas of the brain it helps kids improve focus, concentration and improve learning abilities. It also is useful to manage mood. Certain songs/rhythms can energize and others can calm. I have used it in therapy to help kids learn to regulate themselves…. such a wonderful tool!!

  6. Thanks for your lovely post, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post on Music Therapy. I love best steel drum.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.