Drumming in groups may help with depression and anxiety, one study finds

by Dereck Sinclair

If you’re someone who uses Prozac regularly, you might want to consider ditching the drug and joining a drumming group instead.

A new study has discovered that group drumming can have significant positive effects on a person’s well being, including improvements in their depression, anxiety and social confidence.

To test this, UK researchers tasked the treatment group in their study with 90-minutes of group drumming every week, over 10 weeks. The size of these drumming groups consisted of about 15 to 20 people. Each member of the treatment group was given a traditional African djembe drum, and were asked to sit in a circle with the other drummers.

The participants engaged in about 20% instruction and talking, and then made music with their drums for the other 80% of the time. 

What they found is quite remarkable. The control group, which was tasked with attending social community events, like quiz nights, women’s group meetings and book clubs, made no significant improvements in depression, anxiety or social resilience. The drumming group, on the other hand, made drastic improvements. And, these positive changes were still seen 3 months later during a follow up.

What’s even cooler is that there was a noticeable shift in the immune profiles of those who participated in the drumming group. They went from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory responses.

The implications for such findings are quite significant. They let us peer into a world of treatment that does not revolve around pharmaceutical drugs. One that promotes side-effect free benefits and treatment options that do not focus on simply suppressing symptoms, but getting rid of them.

If you’ve been depressed, anxious or struggling to cope in social environments, you might want to search for a local drumming group to join so you can start making music, and possibly change your life in the process.