Experts Say Best Depression Treatment Remains Having Coal-Covered Street Urchins Sing About Dancing Troubles Away

Illustration for article titled Experts Say Best Depression Treatment Remains Having Coal-Covered Street Urchins Sing About Dancing Troubles Away

NEW YORK—Adding to a growing body of evidence in support of the approach, Columbia University psychiatrists published research Friday that confirmed listening to coal-covered street urchins sing a song about dancing your troubles away was still the best treatment for clinical depression. “In 90% of cases, the most successful intervention for major depressive disorder was having a young ragamuffin tap the subject on the shoulder and say, ‘Hold on, guv’nah—’ow is it you got a frown on this most splendiferous of days?’” said lead researcher Alfred Evans, describing how the moods of severely depressed individuals improved when a gang of dirt-caked, hardscrabble chimney sweeps and newsboys appeared one by one from nearby alleyways and started into a high-spirited, irresistible song-and-dance number. “Even the worst-off patients, those who exhibit no response to antidepressants or talk therapy, experienced decreased symptoms after exposure to the sprightly steps and carefree ditties of a chorus made up of 5- to 10-year-old orphans with names like Skimble Flintwich, Humsy Wumsy, and Lil’ Tom Wopsle. People who have suffered for decades from a sense of inherent worthlessness not only smiled as these impish ruffians in knee pants and suspenders performed a choreographed routine with their horsehair brooms, but actually joined in for the final rousing chorus of a tune called ‘Chin Up The Livelong Day!’ By the time these knockabout youngsters smeared boot-polish mustaches beneath their noses and mimicked a group of indignant businessmen, most cases of depression had been completely cured.” Evans hypothesized that the effectiveness of the treatment might stem from patients concluding that if these penniless guttersnipes were able to smile their way through the hard times, then, well, perhaps anyone could.