Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Craig Bowman

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© 2016 Oliver Mausner


Depression affects over three million people in the United States every year, with that number increasing drastically as we look at the entire global scale. Depression is described as “a brain disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life” (Mayo Clinic). Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological, and stress factors. One explanation that psychologists have found includes some abnormal activity by neural circuits in the brain. Depression is characterized by a continuing feeling of sadness and loss of all interest in daily life. Depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. Some of these symptoms include trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, decreased energy level, inability to concentrate, changes in daily behavior, and low self-esteem (Mayo Clinic). In more serious cases, depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide. Usually, doctors and psychologists will prescribe medications to hopefully combat the feelings of depression and help the patient get out of their altered state. Other forms of treatment include consistent therapy sessions with a psychiatrist or psychologist, during which the patient talks and vents their feelings. Some medications and talk therapy have been proven to be very successful, while others have not. A possible treatment that not many have considered may be the use of music therapy with depressed and lonely individuals. A main issue facing many people with depression and loneliness seems to be a need and desire for connection. What if music could be that connection they are missing? Many studies show that sad music can be used as a therapeutic tool to help cope with sad feelings, but the song and the patterns of sound within may also be giving the patients something else; a connection that they may not have had in the past. Because of this, music can give these individuals a reference point and a new outlook on their situation. If they struggle to find a strong connection with another human, music could be something for them to identify with and an outlet that could help change the way that they see their situation. Sad music can be a positive influence and a coping mechanism for depressed individuals, due to the fact that it provides them with feelings of happiness and gives them a connection and vantage point that they may not necessarily have seen before they listened to the music.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.