Music Therapy May Reduce Depression in Dementia

Music therapy reduces depressive symptoms in patients with dementia but has little or no effect on agitation or aggression, results of a new meta-analysis suggest.

The analysis also found little or no effect of music therapy on emotional well-being or quality of life, overall behavioral problems, or cognition. Effects of the therapy on anxiety or social behavior were unclear from these data.

"The take-home message for clinicians is that they can prescribe a musical therapy intervention as a way to improve depressive symptoms in dementia patients," lead author, Jenny T. van der Steen, PhD, associate professor, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands, told Medscape Medical News.

While there's no cure for dementia, it's "good news" that a nonpharmacologic intervention such as music therapy can improve the well-being of patients with dementia, said Dr van der Steen.