Finding words for emotions: The reactions of patients with major depressive disorder towards various musical excerpts

Ehud Bodner, Iulian Iancu, Avi Gilboa, Amiram Sarel, Avi Mazor, Dorit Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study aims to show that the specific use of sad music in patients with major depressive disorder can circumvent the verbal barrier they typically experience when asked to express their emotions. We examined the effect of four emotionally distinctive types of music (i.e. happiness, fear, anger, and sadness) on 14 hospitalized patients with major depressive disorder (MDD group) and 31 healthy controls (HC group). Participants were asked to choose emotional descriptors that expressed the feelings that were induced in them by each excerpt. We hypothesized that in the specific case of sad music, patients with MDD would describe the music more vividly than HC participants. Patients with MDD chose fewer emotional labels than controls in response to angry, scary, and happy excerpts. Patients with MDD and controls chose similar emotional labels in response to sad music, but patients with MDD chose more labels in response to sad music than to any other excerpt, while controls demonstrated the exact opposite pattern. These findings are in line with clinical descriptions of patients with MDD as demonstrating difficulties in verbalizing their emotions. Their intensified response to sad music is in accordance with their focus on sad cues. The use of sad music in psychotherapy is thus recommended as means of bypassing the verbal barrier experienced by patients with MDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

Keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • Cognitive bias
  • Depression
  • Music therapy
  • Sad music

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Finding words for emotions: The reactions of patients with major depressive disorder towards various musical excerpts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this