The effectiveness of music listening in reducing depressive symptoms in adults: a systematic review

Complement Ther Med. 2011 Dec;19(6):332-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.08.003. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


Objectives: We aim to review trials of the effectiveness of music listening in reducing depressive symptoms in adults, and identify areas requiring further study.

Background: Little is known about the efficacy of music listening in the mediation of depressive symptoms.

Methods: We systematically search 9 databases and reviewed 17 studies included randomized controlled and quasi-experimental trails of music listening in reducing depressive symptoms in adults. The Joanna Briggs Institute-Meta Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument was used for quality assessment of included studies.

Results: Music listening over a period of time helps to reduce depressive symptoms in the adult population. Daily intervention does not seem to be superior over weekly intervention and it is recommended that music listening session be conducted repeatedly over a time span of more than 3weeks to allow an accumulative effect to occur.

Conclusions: All types of music can be used as listening material, depending on the preferences of the listener. So, it is recommended that the listeners are given choices over the kind of music which they listen to. There is a need to conduct more studies, which replicate the designs used in the existing studies that met the inclusion criteria, on the level of efficacy of music listening on the reduction of depressive symptoms for a more accurate meta-analysis of the findings and reflect with greater accuracy the significant effects that music has on the level of depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Music / psychology*
  • Music Therapy*