A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that singing might help mothers to recover from post-natal depression more quickly.
Looking at 134 mothers with post-natal depression, researchers found that those women that took part in group singing sessions with their babies experienced a much faster improvement in their symptoms than those who did not.
Singing has been credited with helping the mental health of older people and those with dementia in previous studies, but this is the first time its effects have been tested on those with post-natal depression.
The mothers taking part in the study were divided into three groups: one took part in group singing, the second in creative play sessions and the third received their usual care (which would normally include mindfulness, antidepressants and/or family support).
The mothers in the singing workshops would learn lullabies and songs from around the world with their babies, and it was this group that reported the fastest improvement in symptoms. While all the groups improved over the 10 weeks, the singing group reported an average 35% decrease in symptoms within the first six weeks.
The research is something of a breakthrough, as a lot of new mothers don’t want to take depression medication while breastfeeding – and symptoms really need to be tackled as quickly as possible. Post-natal depression is thought to affect as many as one in eight new mothers and most commonly develops in the first three months postpartum.
Since the study, Breathe Arts Health Research has started running singing workshops in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust for women with post-natal depression across the South London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.