Drumming beats depression

We all know the drummers make the best dancers (after all, they’ve got rhythm), but now a new study from Royal College of Music (RCM) has found drumming also improves your mental health. A 10-week programme of group drumming reduced depression by 38 per cent and anxiety by 20 per cent.

A second preliminary study found that the same programme can also improve social resilience by 23 per cent and mental wellbeing by 16 per cent. In other words: if you want to feel good, you’d better get drumming.

‘Our study shows that making music can be a powerful tool for promoting mental health and contributes to a wider evidence base around music and wellbeing,’ said Aaron Williamon, professor of Performance Science at RCM.

76 people took part in drum workshops led by a professional RCM player and supported by students, before completing questionnaires that evaluated their mental health. The benefits of playing were still evident three months after the workshops finished, suggesting it could be an effective long-term treatment.

Recent research has shown that many mental health conditions, including depression, are linked to inflammation in the immune system. Drumming is an effective treatment because it helps decrease this inflammation.

The study, published in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, was the first project of the Centre for Performance Science, a partnership between RCM and Imperial College London that is funded by UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council.