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Listening to Music can Reduce Chronic Pain and Depression by 25%

Listening to music can reduce chronic pain by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%, according to a paper in the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.*

These stats continue to impress me even after all these years of being a music therapist – they are statistically significant and are based on people being prescribed just one hour of specific music a day.

Although most of our sessions are weekly (typically .5 to 1.5 hours per week)  my experience suggests that our clients feel a minimum of 5% better after every session – and for some of our clients 5% is the lifeline they need.

One of the reasons I have remained in the profession of music therapy is because of how effective music can tap into the part that has not been affected by mental or physical illness and help anyone feel less disabled by their condition.

Researchers reviewed data from eight trials involving 213 patients who were undergoing stressful procedures in the hospital.  Patients, who had various conditions, including lung disease, cardiac disease and trauma injuries were all receiving the stressful experience of mechanical breathing support via mouth, nose, or tracheotomy. In several trials, patients were visited by a trained music therapist who provided live music with a tempo matched to the respiratory rate of the patient. On average, listening to music reduced anxiety compared to standard care with no music. It also reduced heart and breathing rates.


* (Effect of music on power, pain, depression and disability. Sandra L Siedlecki, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio, and Marion Good, Case Western University, Ohio. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Volume 54.5, pages 553 to 562).