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Music eases schizophrenia symptoms

Listening to music might help ease depression, anxiety and emotional withdrawal symptoms of schizophrenia.

Music eases schizophrenia symptoms

Listening to music might help ease depression, anxiety and emotional withdrawal symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of people in Britain and the United States. The illness usually begins in the late teens and early 20s and is characterised by hallucinations, delusions, hearing voices and changes in behaviour. It is known that psychological treatments can help people with schizophrenia, but these have only been used when people are fairly stable. The current study shows that music therapy provides a way of working with people when they are acutely unwell. Treatments such as atypical antipsychotic drugs focus on eliminating the symptoms. But the drugs can cause side effects such as weight gain, an increased risk of diabetes and sexual dysfunction. Researchers from the Imperial College London conducted a study of four hospitals and found that encouraging patients to express themselves through music seemed to improve their schizophrenic symptoms. The patients in the study received standard therapy alone or with the musical component, which consisted of 8 to 12 music sessions. They were encouraged to express themselves with a range of musical instruments. After measuring the symptoms in the patients, greater improvements were found in the music therapy group. Although other factors like severity of the illness could not be ruled out, therefore the researchers warrant further study and a larger trial. Music therapy may provide a means of enhancing the effectiveness of in-patient treatment by reducing some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that respond least well to drug treatment.
British Journal of Psychiatry,
November 2006
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