Dancing and Art Therapy Could Be Key In Improving Depression and Anxiety Symptoms, Study Shows

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A recent study has found that group-based performing arts therapies can effectively alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. The research published in the BMJ Open journal involved 669 participants diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression from nine countries.

Dancing has positive impact on anxiety and depression

The study examined various factors such as symptom severity, quality of life, overall well-being, social participation and functional communication. The findings highlight the positive impact of dancing with others on mental health, debunking the idea that dancing alone is the best approach.

The study covered various performance art forms including music therapy, dance therapy, art therapy, theatre and martial arts-based therapy.

Researchers reviewed 171 studies conducted between 2004 and 2021 and selected 12 studies for further analysis. Most of the studies focused on severity of anxiety and depression with around 25% of the studies examining the well being aspects and the role of arts in enhancing social interaction skills. However only two studies focused on quality of life.

Dance therapy enhances mental health symptoms

Five studies examined the effects of dance and art therapy on mental health and found notable enhancements in depression and anxiety levels among participants. on the other hand three studies focused on advantages of art therapy, including clay art therapy. All of these studies documented significant reductions in depression and anxiety levels following the therapeutic interventions.

Although the findings highlight the importance of performing art therapies in enhancing mental health, there is adequate scope for more research to get more insights in the field.

University of Exeter Medical School’s Dr Max Barnish who was the study author said that depression and anxiety are major health challenges in the world today that need non-drug treatment s to manage symptoms. He added that their findings demonstrated real promise across different studies despite the research field having stagnated. Barnish concluded that researchers should now focus on performing arts to compare group therapies so that they can establish which is the most effective activity in reducing mental health symptoms.

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