Elderly woman streching during a dance class. LEHTIKUVA

Health & wellbeing

A recent study, funded by Kela (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland), has shown that dance movement therapy, when combined with conventional treatments, significantly reduces depression symptoms more than conventional treatments alone. The researchers suggest that Finland should consider expanding the use of this therapy based on these promising results.

The study involved 157 participants, all diagnosed with depression posing a threat to their work or study capabilities.

During the research, the participants, divided into a study group and a control group, continued to receive their usual depression treatments. The study group, comprising 109 participants, received 20 dance movement therapy sessions over 10 weeks, each session lasting 75 minutes.

Before participating in the therapy, many participants felt a lack of energy in their bodies, discomfort in their physical selves, and were concerned about others' perceptions of their bodies and actions. They often viewed their own capabilities and physical presence negatively.

The findings align with previous research indicating the effectiveness of physical activity in treating and preventing depression. However, Riitta Luoto, the Chief Medical Officer at Kela involved in the study, cautions that while exercise is a powerful tool, it does not replace other forms of treatment.

The use of dance movement therapy varies across Europe. In Finland, it is currently utilized in psychophysical physiotherapy and occupational therapy, while countries like Germany and the Netherlands have recommended it as a rehabilitation method for depression for several years. Hungary has recently added this therapy to its treatment options.

Given the positive results, Luoto suggests that Finland should explore expanding the application of dance movement therapy. The study's encouraging outcomes open the door for broader utilization of this therapy in treating depression, potentially offering a new dimension to mental health care in Finland.