New Study Shows Singing Treats Post-Partum Depression in 6 Weeks

New Study Shows Singing Treats Post-Partum Depression in 6 Weeks

For women with post-partum depression, a new study[1] finds singing could help them recover faster. Women who participated in group singing sessions with their babies experienced a 40% reduction in symptoms. This is significant for 1 in 8 mothers who shows signs for post-partum depression.

Singing decreased post-partum depressive symptoms in affected mothers by 40%

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, assigned 134 mothers with post-partum depression to one of three groups. Group one enrolled in a weekly singing workshop—learning and singing songs that spanned the globe, as well as creating new songs specifically about motherhood. Group two participated in weekly ‘creative play’ workshops focused on craft projects with their babies. Group three followed normal postnatal care, functioning as the control group.

While all three groups showed improvement in symptoms over the course of 10 weeks, the singing group reported a 35% decrease in depressive symptoms in just six weeks, and the percentage increased another 5% by the study’s end. While other studies prove singing improves the mental health of people with dementia, this is the first study to show its effects on women with post-partum depression. It’s valuable because as lead study author Dr. Daisy Fancourt points out, “Many mothers have concerns about taking depression medication whilst breastfeeding and uptake of psychological therapies with new mothers is relatively low,” she said. “Something as simple as referring mothers to community activities could support their recovery.”

To ward off depression, sing to tune your vagal tone

These findings support a related study[2] that shows choral singing promotes well-being due to the fact that singing lowers your respiration rate. Tuning into your breath and slowing it down helps control heart rate variability (HRV) – the change in space between each heartbeat. When you’re stressed, your heart races and the time between each heartbeat quickens. By using heart rate variability training, you can teach your body to have less of a physiological response to stressors, which will keep you calmer and less anxious over time. Not to mention, you’ll recover to a normal heart rate more quickly when stress does hit. Singing is a type of heart rate variability training that tones the vagus nerve — an essential part of the nervous system that’s responsible for calming organs after the stressed, ‘fight-or-flight’ adrenaline response to danger. The more you can shape your vagal tone, the more control you have over your nervous system. Read more about the connection between emotional health and your vagus nerve here.

In the meantime, you can take these steps to help control your stress response and improve your well-being:

Read Next: How to Fight Depression Without Medication

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