In another example of the healing power of the arts, a group of researchers in Iran released a study (chronicled on Scientific American’s blog a few months back and again last week in The New York Times) that suggests regular listening to Beethoven piano sonatas can significantly reduce the effects of depression on people. The aforementioned blog post explains:
… A group of researchers, noting that music therapy has already been shown to reduce pain, improve sleep quality, and improve mood in cancer patients underoing therapy and multiple sclerosis patients, wondered if music might alleviate depression as well. It does. They took 56 depressed subjects, had them listen to Beethoven’s 3d and 5th piano sonatas for 15 minutes twice a week in a clean, otherwise quiet room — and saw their depression scores on the standard Beck Depression Scale go up signficantly. No side effects! And music is cheap — a lifetime of Beethoven for the price of a couple weeks of Prozac.
Some have repeatedly argued that more “soothing” forms of music and visual art can often have that effect, but there hasn’t been much actual published research. Music therapists and art therapists will readily support the study’s findings, I’m sure.