Music Therapy Reduces Depression in Children and Youth


In what was reportedly the largest ever study of its kind, music therapy significantly reduced depression in children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems, according to a press release about a Queen’s University Belfast study presented at a recent conference.

“251 children and young people were involved in the study which took place between March 2011 and May 2014,” stated the press release. “They were divided into two groups – 128 underwent the usual care options, while 123 were assigned to music therapy in addition to usual care. All were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioral problems.”

“The researchers found that children who received music therapy had significantly improved self-esteem and significantly reduced depression compared with those who received treatment without music therapy,” stated the press release. “(T)hose who received music therapy had improved communicative and interactive skills, compared to those who received usual care options alone.”

Ciara Reilly, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust that was also involved in the study, said in the press release that, “Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomised controlled trial in a clinical setting. The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option. For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects.”

Music Therapy Reduces Depression in Children and Youth (Queen’s University Belfast Press Release on EurekAlert, October 23, 2024)


  1. About time music was recognised as a standard therapeutic tool, safer and more effective than drugs for a range of mental problems, including anxiety and depression at all ages. I would like to see some studies where music alone is compared with drug treatment – but it needs to be good music therapy. A lot of the ‘music therapy’ that goes on in hospitals is not more than a mediocre musician visiting the ward once a week and strumming a few popular songs and good time oldies for drugged-up patients/prisoners. Then they say that it’s not been shown to be effective.

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